I’m going to be honest. I sat down to write this review about 45 minutes ago, and have been online watching clips of Amy Poehler ever since. I can’t help myself—she’s addicting. Aside from being one of the most talented comedians to ever grace the earth with her presence, she’s also an entrepreneur who co-founded the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater; a mother of two; an actress, writer, producer, and director; an inspirational YouTube success; and now, an author. And her book is good. Really good. So good, in fact, that I sat for an entire day—eight hours—reading it and doing nothing else. My butt went numb in the process, and I had to sleep on my stomach that night to re-inflate it, but the experience was worth it because I got a glimpse into the genius mind of comedy goddess Amy Poehler. Yes Please is Poehler’s 329-page memoir, filled with glossy pictures from her youth (and also glossy pictures not from her youth; see photo on left), on-point observations she’s made about life, such as “Doing sketch comedy on live television while pregnant is like wearing a sombrero; you can pretend to be a serious person but the giant hat gives you away,” and deep life truths, including “It’s important to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo.” She approaches her story non-linearly, jumping within chapters from topics as varied as divorce and childbirth to stories about professing her love to Ashton Kutcher and sitting on George Clooney’s lap at the 2013 Golden Globes. Although sporadic at times, Poehler’s refusal to stick to a sequential timeline give her vignettes a more realistic, conversational flow; it is as if she is sitting in front of you and dishing about her life, skipping from story to story as certain memories bring to mind others.
For the most part, Poehler is candid about her life. She openly discusses her recreational drug use in a chapter entitled, “Obligatory Drug Stories, and Lessons I Learned on Mushrooms,” freely discusses her reliance on nannies in “Every Mother Needs a Wife,” and offers her “World Famous Sex Advice” in a chapter under the same title. She does, however, shy away from the details of her divorce from Will Arnett, admitting it is “too sad and too personal.”
Fleeting mentions of the divorce do appear numerous times throughout her writing and show a side of Poehler that I wasn’t quite expecting. Even though her memoir’s pages are glossy, I never expected Poehler to gloss over the gritty parts of her life. I did, however, expect her darker recollections to be coated in classic Poehler comedy. Instead, certain vignettes showcase a very real, very vulnerable Amy Poehler sans much humor. For instance, the chapter “Bad Sleeper” underscores Poehler’s struggles with anxiety and exhaustion, “Sorry Sorry Sorry” offers an apology for an offensive Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch she performed, and “My Boys” addresses both a perspective-altering trip she took to Haiti and the challenges of motherhood. I found “I’m So Proud of You” to be one of the most interesting chapters, as it tackles the difficulties faced by women in a male-dominated industry. While all of Poehler’s seriousness was initially unexpected, her displays of vulnerability made me fall even more in love with her; she can turn on the comedy and charm one minute and then switch to a serious, no-nonsense attitude the next. This was enlightening to see, and, while immersing myself in Poehler’s stories, I came to view her more as a person and less as an untouchable Hollywood entity.
As a crazy SNL fanatic, my favorite part of Yes Please is the chapter Poehler devotes to her favorite SNL memories. I wish she had written more about her seven years on the show, because “Humping Justin Timberlake” is chock-full of hilarious anecdotes. Among the many entertaining tales, she recollects doodling explicit images with Will Forte during an NBC sexual harassment meeting and breaking character while shooting “Debbie Downer.” I couldn’t stop laughing as I read this chapter and could totally feel the spirit of Lorne Michaels in these pages. It was great.
I so recommend Yes Please. Whether you’re searching for answers to the meaning of life, wanting to experience the human condition through the eyes of a blonde Bostonian comedian, or just trying to get the scoop on this Seth Meyers guy, this book is for you. And, after you’ve finished, I suggest you hop onto YouTube and watch every single Amy Poehler clip, because by the time you’re done reading Yes Please, you’ll feel like she’s your new best friend.
** Fun Fact: I had the opportunity to attend one of Amy Poehler’s book publicity events in New York this summer, and she used these to encourage people to buy her book:
YES. THAT IS A PINK FORTUNE COOKIE. This is just once again proof that Amy Poehler is a genius.
Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!