08 Oct Book Recommendation: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Have you ever been asked that dinner party question? You know, someone puts you in this fictitious scenario in which you’re hosting a prestigious dinner party, and you can invite 2, 3, maybe 5 famous people whom you’ve actually never met to come over to your house, eat a meal, and sift through rigorous discussion topics that allow you to pick these celebrities’ brains? Sure it’s a ludicrous and impossible idea, but it’s something that’s really, really fun to think about. That dinner party is one of the first thoughts that popped into my mind when I decided to pick up Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please. Now, I can’t give you a complete list of celebs I’d eagerly be awaiting an RSVP from (mostly because I haven’t actually gotten around to finalizing my guest-list yet); however, I know exactly who I’d be mailing my first invitation to.
I went into Yes Please as a fan of Amy Poehler’s work eager to learn more about the woman behind the hilarious variety of characters she has portrayed throughout her career. What I got was a series of profound and poignant vignettes documenting different stages of Ms. Poehler’s life, organized in a bit of a non-sequential fashion, but enjoyable and life-affirming all the same. The thing about memoirs is that not only does the story itself have to be sound from a literary sense, but the subject of the story needs to be likeable, or at the very least interesting as well. Luckily for the reader, Amy Poehler excels in both of these facets of her book with her ever-conversational tone and undeniable admirability.
Yes Please often reads like a self-help book, but it is Poehler’s no-bullshit attitude and easily accessible sense of humor that carries the disjointed narrative through some of it’s slower sections. Her general worldview is pretty inspiring, and if I were to describe Amy Poehler’s personality in just a couple words, I would call her a positive realist. She’s aware of her own limitations and tendencies, but appears to have always been the type of person to tackle any kind of adversity head-on with the confidence in knowing that her determination will continue to drive her towards bigger and better things. Poehler embodies a great deal of her Parks and Rec character Leslie Knope’s can-do attitude in her everyday life, as well as her warm and loving demeanor. She has a tendency to do some serious name-dropping throughout the book, but it doesn’t come across as pretentious in the slightest when viewed in the context of probably the greatest lessons instilled here; “no one can do it alone.”
Poehler writes extensively about the people she idolized coming up in the Chicago improv-comedy scene from her time with the Upright Citizens Brigade, her cometic tag-team partner Tina Fey, the supportive Saturday Night Live cast and their slew of guest hosts, and of course, her fellow co-stars from the wonderful series Parks and Recreation (and let’s be honest, even if it does come across a little braggadocious, we bought this book to hear about all that shit anyway). Poehler is overtly kind, and has no problems praising any these people or giving credit where credit is due. In fact, I’m fairly certain the only person mentioned in Yes Please she didn’t have something nice to say about was Chris Rock. She even commented on how her ex-husband, Will Arnett is a great father to her young boys Abel and Archie; and if she still has any animosity towards Arnett, she doesn’t feel compelled to write about it, which is very refreshing and just another reason to love Amy Poehler.
The memoir Yes Please is an incredibly honest depiction of Poehler’s life, career, and who she is as a person. With help from former Weekend Update co-host Seth Meyers, her own parents, and several others, Poehler gives us a first hand view of her life from her humble beginnings in Newton, Massachusetts, through her career at SNL, to motherhood and beyond as if we are getting to peek behind the curtain. Poehler tells her story with short anecdotes, personal essays, speeches, lists, and however she sees fit; keeping it loose and hysterical throughout. I’m sure it’s an easy read, but I’d suggest splurging on the audiobook version so you don’t miss out on all the subtle nuances of Ms. Poehler reading the Yes Please to you herself. She is relentlessly funny and the audiobook experience feels almost like a one woman show. This memoir is a good-read for even the most casual of Amy Poehler fans, and I promise, after you check it out you’ll most likely want to make room at your dinner table for Amy.