I think too many people write memoirs/autobiographies/what-have-you, only to brag about their achievements. It’s not a bad thing, accomplishments should be celebrated and talked about and echoed to the heavens because it’s a proud moment. But too many of those memoirs/autobiographies/what-have-yous offer little to the public besides knowledge (at times secretive) of their lives behind doors. This is why I’m not a fan of this genre and often steer away from it. I had no expectations when beginning Amy Poehler’s first book Yes Please and was shocked, utterly shocked, when I came out of it knowing I had learned not only about the craziness that is Poehler’s acting, comedy and daily life, but even a bit about my own.
But then again, and I’ll just come out and say it, Yes Please is special. Not just a memoir. Not just essays. Not just spontaneous advice of varying seriousness. This is the foundation of the stew that is Yes Please and I have to say, ‘yes please I’d like some more’.
So funny. Before finishing ten pages I had already laughed out loud and smiled like a fool. It felt so Amy. I could tell this wasn’t going to be a dry rehashing of a life featuring critically thought out punchlines to end each sentence to bring a width of humour to the setting. Don’t think it’s a joke book that can’t handle a serious topic. Poehler can and does in chapter ‘Sorry, Sorry, Sorry’, ‘Plain Girl vs. The Demon’ and well, most chapters to be honest.
General topics include: apologies, shame, self-esteem, pregnancy and birth, divorce, technology, careers, advice on all topics, and then some. Poehler never lectures. She doesn’t write to prove her superiority of comedy, writing, or living. She wants to share everything she can and if it benefits a life, well that’s an added bonus.
Keep in mind, advice given isn’t always by Poehler. Instead it comes from guest writers in specific chapters and from her parents. It’s sweet and respectable and to be greatly admired. It left me feeling warm and snug, as sappy as that sounds, but I’m just telling the truth. An example of the gems are, “you don’t want to be the creepy dad”, “Monty Python is funny”, “love your work”, and “everything in moderation”.
Very story-like. Perhaps this is why each chapter was captivating, no matter the moral, the message or the poem (yes, poem). Poehler gives a glimpse into the world of comedy, more specifically her world of comedy featuring big names, small towns, ex-junkie cooks and a misfits of other characters who were (and are) real life people. How can one person have so many experiences? Know so many people? Be such a great freak’n person too?
“Women really are at their most dangerous during this time. Your hormones are telling you that you are strong sexy, everyone is scared of you, and you have a built-in sidekick who might come out at any minute.”
I can only answer the first one. Poehler worked hard to achieve all she has. Extremely. Reading the book provides more knowledge on her work ethic without you even knowing about it. Luck has played a part, as it often does with comedy, but she has struggled her way up the ladder. But she loved the struggle. She felt alive when she was living with a group of people, performing shows that weren’t exactly selling out (unless friends, family and a couple of strangers count), and swallowed in debt. Most importantly, she learned something from every tiny experience she had. Poehler may very well be the definition of “living and learning”.
Poehler and Writing…
Yes, she can be serious. She balances gracefully on the line of serious advice on self esteem to laughing with herself about herself including but not limited to her “crazy smile” and “fantastic tits”. While reading I couldn’t predict what would come next and was often pleasantly surprised by the unexpected.
The photos of her childhood were a personal touch. The poems were creative if not interesting. The advice from guest writers was warming. The letters were hilarious. Each chapter was unique as well as relatable.
“What’s that Hollywood? It’s a weird idea and also you don’t do movies with female superheroes? Copy that.”
Jabs are made. Harmless, but effective. Full of humour but spot on. But don’t think Poehler is the only one making the jabs. Seth Meyers also contributes to Yes Please via a chapter. He introduces himself within the first line and I had a worry he may just mess up the really good thing Poehler is doing here because as she has stated a couple times already, writing ain’t easy. Trying to continue a flow set by one writer by another? Even less easy. But Meyers is (and I can’t say “just as” because I wouldn’t want to insult the star of the book) witty and funny. Perhaps it’s the years working beside her showing, but Meyer’s matches Poehler’s style exceptionally well.
Poehler has lived multiple lifetimes. She never runs out of experiences. She never runs out of stories starting from when she played Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz in a childhood school play to her doctor dying the day before she gave birth, all the way over to visiting Haiti in 2012 after the earthquake devastated the island and everything in between (trust me, there’s a ton in between – an entire book full). I absolutely loved Yes Please. It’s an experience you haven’t been introduced to before — that I can promise you.
And (possible spoiler) I’m greatly looking forward to her second book A Great Face For Wigs!