The New York Times’ review of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please is not a very good one. I never let reviewers deter me from reading a book or seeing a movie, though, so that coupled with my enjoyment of Poehler’s her best pal’s book Bossypants and their fellow comedienne’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me led me to believe that, at the very least, Yes Please would be good for a few laughs. I was wrong — it was good for a whole lot of laughs. I LOVED it!
The Times reviewer is right in that the book is self-deprecating and all over the place, but isn’t that Amy Poehler in a nutshell? And when you’re writing non-fiction as opposed to fiction, isn’t it supposed to jump around a little bit? Like, it doesn’t have to go in order of her life from birth until present time. (In fact, it probably shouldn’t.) Poehler is not a conventionally attractive person, nor is she as funny as other comedians, but she comes off as entirely self-aware and completely secure in her insecurity. I like that about her. I also like her stories about New York City in the old days — as in the 90s — and I am fascinated by just how many comedy troupes and shows and improv groups and projects she has been part of over the past few decades, and how many comedians’ paths have crossed before they became who we know them to be today.
The funniest parts of the book — according to me, not the Times reviewer — are Amy’s birthing plan letter to the hospital in which she gave birth to one of her sons and an acceptance speech she forgot to use when she won an award. It is not clear to me if either of these items are “real” in the sense that she actually sent them to the hospital staff/had it folded up in her clutch at the show, but does that really matter?
[Hospital Letter Excerpt] The birth environment is very important to us. For that reason we ask that the lights be kept dim, noise be avoided, and the door be closed for privacy. We would also like people to stay ‘chill’ and not ‘bring their own sh!t’ into the room with them. It’s really important we feel ‘cool.’ Please decorate the room with Nan Goldin prints and leather beanbag chairs. We would love it if you could bring in a silk Persian rug for us to destroy. Think Chateau Marmont if it was closed for repairs. Or the set of MTV Unplugged.
[Acceptance Speech Excerpt] Now on to politics. What’s the deal, guys? Seriously. I mean, come on. Get it together. It’s like, when are we going to wake up? It’s all crazy. Who’s with me? Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. What else? Oh, I am launching a jewelry line and my pieces are in the lobby and available for sale. Euros only! This is also a good time to mention my album is dropping. By dropping I mean someone is dropping it and I need someone else to pick it up and make it. Thank you in advance, Diplo.
Other than laugh-out-loud parts such as the above, I really enjoyed reading about this woman’s life. I find I like nonfiction more and more — specifically autobiographies of people I wasn’t even all that interested in to begin with. And I’m sure this was part of Poehler’s subliminal intent with the book, but I will almost certainly be watching Parks and Recreation after my fiancé and I finish Breaking Bad.