Brief synopsis: Yes Please is a memoir composed of pivotal moments that shaped the life of comedian and actress Amy Poehler. Born from a need to challenge herself, the book becomes more than just an autobiography as Poehler passes on advice that helped her in times of need. In her essays she talks about divorce and being a mother of two, how her time as an improv actor prepared her for the lead role in Parks and Recreation, and why growing older has never felt better.
Rating: Island collection
Long story short: I’m a fan of Poehler’s comedy so naturally Yes Please was high on my TRL, and I’m happy to report it didn’t disappoint. As it is whenever I have a lot to say or feel overwhelmed about a particular subject, I’m going to write up my thoughts in bullet-points:
- The book was funny in the right places and at the right times. Poehler is a natural entertainer and I thought the book was well-balanced when it came to humor. Not all of it is ha-ha funny, and it’s not really meant to be. I also liked that while she mentioned the sad or not-so-fun moments in her life, she didn’t dwell on them for too long but used them as learning tools.
- I was reading the book in her voice. I know I’m fully immersed in a book when I read words and dialogue in the characters’ voices. When it comes to celebrity memoirs/autobiographies I always wonder how much of the book is actually written by the famous person and how much is filled in by a group of hired guns. Yes Please definitely channels the real-life Poehler.
- She acknowledged her privilege. As a heterosexual Indian-American woman born in a middle-class family and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I see the world through a particular set of lenses. I try my best to recognize my privilege and be an ally for others when I can, so I appreciated that throughout her book Poehler made efforts to do the same.
- The book was as much about Poehler as it was about the people who shaped her. She talked a great deal about her coworkers from her time in improv, SNL, and Parks and Recreation. Her praise and love for everyone she connected with both in front of and behind the camera are so genuine that you feel really, really sad that she isn’t your friend too. It was also exciting to read about other celebrities in the context of Poehler’s life, since most of the information we hear about them can be so one-dimensional.
- It takes hard work to be famous. While this isn’t necessarily true for all famous people, Poehler had a lot of shitty jobs before her SNL break, something I wouldn’t have known had I not read the book. She lived in a rat-infested basement apartment, was living paycheck-to-paycheck (that’s when she had a stable job), and didn’t get any real recognition for decades. It’s nice to think that meeting the right people is all you need, but you need to have something to show them when the time comes. Louis Pasteur said it best: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Whew, that was quite the mini-brain dump. If you’ve read Yes Please, what did you think? If you haven’t, is it on your TRL?
P.S. Shout-out to Sam who let me borrow this book too!