Let the autobiographies of funny famous people keep rolling in! I continue to be entertained and enlightened by these memoirs (including those by Neil Patrick Harris, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Rob Delaney). Amy Poehler’s memoir is a combination of autobiography and essay compilation, a choice that frustrated me until I accepted the decision and found myself really enjoying her book.
The chapters are not chronological, nor is this anywhere close to an attempt to share her whole life. Sometimes she digresses from her main point to share a particularly funny or juicy anecdote. Although this is not the best from a writing standpoint, it makes the book feel more like a conversation. Reading Yes Please is like talking to an excited Amy Poehler who wants you to know about this, and oh yeah, this thing happened too!
I wound up really appreciating her bids for privacy. In her chapter about divorce, I was definitely amongst the people who wanted to know everything and why and how and what was she going to do now? She wittily and wisely informed me (in the form of books that ought to exist about divorce) that this was none of my business. And she’s right. I liked the balance she struck between sharing and withholding, though my nosy side occasionally wanted more.
As a huge Parks & Recreation fan, I especially liked the last chapters about her experience in the show. The cast always seems like they enjoy each other, and it was nice to find out that this really is true. A true improv master, Poehler knows that the secret to success is a supportive ensemble, whether in work or in life. Throughout her book, she reveals the importance of having people around you who will pick you up when you are down or simply sit in anxiety with you. It was a lovely glimpse into the life of one of my favorite comedians, and I’ll respect her wishes to only share what she did.
In a perfect world…we’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy–someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.
Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haiku from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.
Release Date: October 2014
Want another opinion? Try these reviews by The Guardian and NPR.