Yes Please (2014) – Amy Poehler

Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
Date published: 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have loved Amy Poehler from the very first episode of Parks and Recreation. I just knew there was something profoundly special and unique about her, and that watching that show was going to be a rather pleasant experience. Six seasons later, and it was more than just pleasant, it was truly one of the most well-written and perfectly timed shows I have ever had the privilege of viewing. After the show ended it became imperative that I should watch everything this woman created because she is brilliant, but I think most of all, Amy Poehler is relatable, and that is her superpower.

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Born on the 16th of September of 1971 in Newton, Massachusetts, USA, AP first discovered her love for performing in her Elementary School production of The Wizard of Oz. She had the lead as Dorothy, and she claimed that this is when she fell in love with ‘improv’ (improvisational acting). Improv would dominate her career choices as she went on to join the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) in the nineties. Performing on stages across New York they were eventually picked up by Comedy Central and ran for a few seasons. During her time spent in New York Amy was also meeting up with fellow comedians such as Seth Meyers and Tina Fey, who would later become her dearest friends and would become her co-hosts on a little show called Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Poehler writes with unbridled passion, and not just about her love for comedy. She is passionate about her family, her friends, her work, sex, drugs and yes even rock n’ roll (though I am not really sure if Bryan Adams counts). Her complete and utter honesty regarding her feelings about being nominated for awards and not winning are so relatable, and so refreshing. As someone with both an insider’s view, and a perfectly relatable approach to meeting ‘celebrities’, Poehler is also not afraid to occasionally ‘name drop’. She makes no secret of the fact she is constantly overwhelmed by fame, but without a hint of pretension. Her humanness is even more visible in the fact that throughout this memoir-of-sorts Poehler often contradicts herself, and I am pretty sure she is aware of it. Not wanting to name-drop, but doing it anyway, because dammit she worked hard to get to this point in her career where humping Justin Timberlake is just part of the grind. {Note to reader: ‘Humping Justin Timberlake’ is actually the title of one her chapters}.

Amongst the memories and the madness, Poehler has also included special chapters written exclusively by her parents, Bill and Eileen Poehler, who sound perfectly nice and perfectly normal thank you very much. There is also a chapter from her SNL: Weekend Update co-host Seth Meyers who knew her when. We are also allowed the privilege of viewing some of her private photographs from her childhood and her early career in comedy. The photos are very random, but this reader appreciates Amy sharing these moments in time with us. Even the random photo of that guy from The Wire.

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Amidst the comedy Amy also writes about her love for her sons and discusses frankly the pain of her divorce (she was married to fellow actor/comedian Wil Arnett for 10 years), and gives some very valuable and relatable (there’s that word again) opinions on the matter in the form of self-help book titles such as: “Get Over It! (But Not Too Fast!); “The Holidays Are Ruined!” and “Hey, Lady, I Don’t Want To Fuck Your Husband!”

As I very briefly mentioned earlier I am not entirely sure if Yes Please is in fact a memoir, or an autobiography, or a book on life lessons. There appears to be no real linear structure, and the timeline is all over the place. The book is dotted with random chapters, and posed photographs of Amy wearing wigs and leggings. This book is definitively Amy Poehler. It’s as real as we can expect from a small Bostonian blonde with the power to make the world laugh and laugh. She is a woman with a huge heart, and an ability to admit when she is being a douche-bag, and it is at her own admittance that she was responsible for saying some pretty ‘douchey’ things. What makes me want to hug AP is that she admits it. She admits to being a work in progress, an evolving human being and a damn truthful one at that.

Well done Amy Poehler of Newton, Massachusetts! You did good!

My review of Tina Fey’s book:

Bossypants (2011) – Tina Fey

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