Saturday Night Live

"Book Review: 'Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story' by Alan Zweibel" by Jamé McCraw

Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story written and illustrated by Alan Zweibel is a tender and very personal glimpse into the relationship between a writer and performer who meet in summer 1976 during the freshman year of Saturday Night Live. Zweibel is responsible for penning scripts to the sketches featuring outrageous and memorable original characters such as Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella for Radner.

A series of dialogues and simple line drawings tell the story of the duo’s delicate friendship. A friendship cut tragically short after 14 years when Radner passed away from complications with ovarian cancer on May 20, 1989.

Sparse vignettes recreate moments of tension, fear, and confrontation but do not feel overly voyeuristic. Zweibel lovingly paints himself as the “asshole” during times of conflict. Gilda is his champion and closest ally. The pair have a profound love for one another that endures during times of uncertainty.

When she is instructed by Zweibel to hold onto casino winnings he could use to pay credit card debt, Radner has hotel security escort him away from her hotel room door when he comes begging out of the arrangement. There is a playfulness to this gesture and her apology the day after the incident comes in the form of a letter, which is hidden in the lavatory of his aircraft during his flight home.

This secret is revealed to Zweibel by a stewardess who tells him: “I was so touched by how warm and funny and loving this person was that I felt like I knew her my whole life and would’ve done anything for her.”

Fame is inevitable for the beloved performer who is approached by strangers so fond of her that they feel she is a familiar friend and call her by name. It is at this point that she asks Alan to call her Gilbert.

A romantic affair between the two of them nearly causes a rift as things fizzle out and they begin to explore the possibility of other partners. The picture Zweibel paints during these passages are stark. Small-talk on elevators and in hallways is painful to witness after knowing how well they are able to communicate with one another. This period of estrangement is resolved when Gilbert tells him, “I need you in my life because I trust you more than anyone and I don’t want to lose that.”

When Radner discovers Zweibel is in the grips of cocaine addiction, she confronts him directly. She tells him what he is doing is not only dangerous, but especially unwise for someone as “naturally insecure and paranoid” as he is. She encourages sobriety. At this time, she encourages him to clean up his act if he is serious about pursuing a relationship with a woman named Robin Blankman. The advice from his champion, Gilbert, is taken to heart. Zweibel and Blankman were married in 1979.

Over the next 10 years, Zweibel and Radner’s conversations appear to be spaced further and further apart as their lives take new paths. They did, however, manage to fulfill the role of a touchstone for one another in instances ranging from hilariously mundane to life-altering.

I am thankful to be privy to moments from such a special friendship. I have read Bunny, Bunny at least a dozen times over the past 13 years. Every month, I think of Radner telling her dear friend Zweibel that saying “Bunny, Bunny” as soon as you wake up on the first day of the month would bring good fortune. It is a sweet fairy tale that I have incorporated into my life. That being said, June 1 is just a week away.

Bunny, Bunny.

Jamé McCraw is a current student at DCH and performs with Watermelon. She enjoys watching squirrels through the windows of her little old house while holding hands with her cat, Stanley.

(Image: LIFE)

Over The Line

Over the Line “I’m so glad Kennedy finally got it through his head that we don’t want him in Dallas.”

Too soon? Over the line?

Ah, but here is the million dollar question. What is “the line”?

We fall into bad habits sometimes. One of those bad habits, a consequence of immersive language learning and a not so great education system, is that we sometimes say things we understand the general meaning of, but not really the specific meaning. We know context better than language, because we’re Americans, and by definition, are lazy.

Just think about the emotions attached to the line. What’s on either side? Well obviously, not “over the line” probably means something is funny. So, “over the line” means not funny, right? Well, sort of…

Our reaction to things that aren’t funny is usually mundane. The shoulder shrug and barely audible “meh” that signifies utter boredom. But when we say something is “over the line,” that’s not usually how we respond. That response is usually something akin to anger, disgust, appalled, etc. It’s not just two sides of a coin.

The opposite of funny is not un-funny. Think of it in terms of “comedy.” And, the opposite of comedy is tragedy.

A short disclaimer: This is a blog on a website for an improv club. Therefore, you probably expect to laugh. But, in this particular article, we’re talking about the art and science of comedy. Asking the big questions.

E.B. White (who wrote Charlotte’s Web, among other books), once said, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested, and the frog dies of it.”

So someone strap Kermit to the table, and let’s look at the stuffing.

There was a guy named Kenneth Burke. He was a literary theorist, hence not funny. But, that didn’t stop him from coming up with the idea of the comic frame.

What’s that? Basically, we all go through our daily lives with this imaginary frame around us. That frame encompasses our accepted reality. What we’re cool with. The things that we understand and ascribe some sort of meaning to. Beyond that frame is the Real, the ineffable, things we have not encountered yet and thus have no way to conceive.

And the line between these two planes, that frame, that’s the line we’re talking about when we say something is “over the line.” This is the realm of comedy.

Comedy - or, good comedy - exists on that edge, at that line. Think about some of the currently great comics right now. Amy Schumer shatters traditional gender roles and stereotypes with a crude sledgehammer of funny. Louis CK says out loud a lot of our weird inner thoughts. Key & Peele (RIP that show) took the very real dramatic and often violent struggle of race relations and race identity in America and used laughs as their artillery. Patton Oswalt is the nerd culture spokesman, who helped an entire generation/social classification emerge from their moms' basements and into Hall H at Comic-Con. Doug Benson similarly brought pot culture and movie nerd-ness into the mainstream. And then, of course, Anthony Jeselnik is there to tell all the morbid jokes you’re definitely not supposed to laugh at.

We could take it even further back to Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, etc. But that’s an article (the standup revolution of the 1960s and 1970s) that deserves its own column (comimg soon, maybe).

Humor has to exist on that boundary, but it’s a thin line between humorous and horrifying, between comedy and tragedy.

A good joke challenges an audience by presenting a situation that is outside of their reality. So technically, it starts over the line. But, if it’s close enough to that line (reality), the reaction is that the audience readjusts that line, moving it incrementally out so as to now include that joke and comic. It has been accepted. And that tension created by the joke is released in the form of laughter. Everything is good with the world.

But, if someone takes it too far, the audience is horrified and does not adjust that line. The comic fool becomes the tragic hero (in Burkian terminology) and is left alone in the wasteland. Think of Michael Richards’ n-bomb laced rant, or when Bill Maher got kicked off of ABC for saying the 9/11 terrorists were brave.

Likewise, all of the people listed above have experienced controversy as well. Schumer takes flack for embracing her liberal sexuality. Key & Peele caught some heat for their brilliant “Negrotown” sketch. Oswalt has become a go-to social media critic, often getting into battles with “news” sites like Salon. Benson is a marijuana ambassador, which still plays poorly with some people.

Key and Peele

Then there’s CK and Jeselnik. CK’s comedy, at its core, is a blend of storytelling and observational humor. It’s pretty standard. But, as much as comedy is about reflecting on the absurdities of life (What is the deal with airline food?), CK is willing to go to more taboo places. In his most recent monologue, closing out Saturday Night Live (SNL) last season, he admitted to being mildly racist, compared his daughters to Israel and Palestine, and tried to reason why people are child molesters. He also joked that this was probably the last time they’d ask him to host. I doubt it. The episode was generally considered to be very strong. And, for a show that has become desperate for any sort of ratings, they can’t afford to keep CK away. He’s just too good. He raises the level of that show, because he’s willing to push those boundaries. Another great sketch had him pretending to “talk black” for five years in order to cover an offensive impression he was doing of Leslie Jones. That’s the kind of stuff SNL has been too scared to do for some time. But, CK isn’t afraid to go to awkward, dark places. And, that’s why he’s so beloved.

Jeselnik takes it a step further. He’s built his entire career on making jokes that you’re absolutely not supposed to make. For example, he basically opens his new Netflix special, Thoughts and Prayers, with dead baby jokes. In that same special, he talks about why his former TV show, Comedy Central’s The Jeselnik Offensive, ultimately didn’t last past season two as he constantly fought the network and further upset them with his habit of specifically subverting the “too soon” charge by making jokes about tragedies - the Boston Marathon bombing specifically - the day they happen.

He’s a good example of this principle because he’s actually been bitten by it on more than one occasion. Whereas Key & Peele just voluntarily ended a highly successful five-season run of their titular sketch show on Comedy Central, Jeselnik was unceremoniously cancelled after two seasons. Comedy Central cited low ratings, despite the fact that no one has ever expected a show that comes on at midnight to have great ratings.

Despite our love for pushing it, there is a line. And comedians occasionally cross it, which has the tragic quality of ostracizing the comedian. Jeselnik has risen above it because he’s simply that good. But many others have failed. Kevin McFarland of the A.V. Club put if perfectly when he wrote, “Jeselnik and his writers prove that the key to making jokes about touchy subjects is actually being funny instead of simply trying to be edgy.”

That’s a big distinction to make. Even when facing controversy, many of the comics listed above survive because there’s a genuine honesty in what they’re saying. They’re not necessarily trying to shock so much as they’re shedding light on a truth. We can empathize with them. Even Jeselnik. Who hasn’t made a joke at a funeral before? There’s always someone. Humor - and laughter specifically - is our reaction to stress. Laughter breaks the tension created by a situation. A comedian’s job is to exploit that by using tension to challenge perception. Set up shop just outside that line and then let audiences know it’s OK to join. Then that frame/line gets readjusted and we now accept a new truth - or are more comfortable with a previously hidden truth - and we confirm this discovery with our approving laughter.

And to that end, I’ll leave you with a perfect example from Dallas’ own adolescent comedy sensation, 10-year-old Saffron Herndon: “Online dating is tough. Every time I meet someone new, they end up in jail.”

Laugh. You know you want to. It’s OK.

Five really good examples from the above comedians:

  1. Anthony Jeselnik - Shark Party
  1. Patton Oswalt - Gay Marriage and Green Lantern Rings
  1. Key & Peele - Negrotown
  1. Amy Schumer - Black Guys and Asian Vaginas
  1. Louis CK - Offensive Words

Kris Noteboom is a Level 2 student at DCH. He is working on his PhD, with a focus comedy. He went on a mini tour this summer performing his comedic one-man show, And Then I Woke Up.

(Top image: Namelas Frade/Creative Commons)

The DCH Diaries: The Audition – Part Deux

Michael Jordan As I write this, the Golden State Warriors are one game from winning the NBA championship over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Michael Jordan never played for either of those teams, but over his 15 seasons in the NBA, his Chicago Bulls won six championships.

So, what does Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, have to do with Dallas Comedy House Ewing team auditions? I'll get to that, but I have a story to finish first.

As I was saying last week, I participated in the latest Ewing team auditions. (To read about the audition process itself, please read Part One.) After the audition was over, I thought I had done okay for a Level 3 student. Not brilliantly, but I held my own, I guess. Then again, I also thought the other members of my group were in top form. I was impressed with the level of competence I saw across the board. I could not imagine how the judges would narrow the field down.

We hung around until Amanda Austin emerged to tell us that the judges did not need any call backs. She also provided comforting words for those who would not make a team this go-round. I paraphrase: “We’re not looking for a particular type. Age, gender, and color don’t matter. We’re looking for a group we think will work well together. That doesn’t mean that you’re not good. In the entertainment business, sometimes you have to audition many times before you make it.”

Did I say comforting? We all know that the words are true. The test is in what we do with them.

Two days later, the email came. The judges had formed two Ewing teams, but my name did not appear on either one.

You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you wanted something until you find out that you can’t have it? Honestly, I can’t exactly say that I grieved, but I was definitely disappointed that I did not make a team. It took me a little while to process it. Remember, I've never been on any kind of audition before. I went from thinking

“The judges do not think I had the right qualities to mesh with the pool of candidates.”

to . . .

“The judges do not think I am ready.”

to . . .

“The judges think I suck.”

to . . .

“Maybe I ought to give up this crazy idea that I could actually learn to do comedy improv, stop traveling so far out of my comfort zone that I am in danger of falling off the edge of the earth, give up my super cool new friends, and let the world continue to believe that the joy of being goofy on stage is just not appropriate for anyone over 40.”

Ummm, that sounds a little over the top, right? Gotta regroup, I thought. Being a compulsive list-maker, I ticked off all the things that I’d miss if I walked away:

  • all those super cool new friends
  • fun classes
  • the Jams
  • my blog posts
  • being on stage
  • future Ewing auditions
  • learning and doing new things and taking chances
  • getting that email with my name on a Ewing team list

In the end, I knew that it was just not yet my time. But, that doesn't mean my time won't come. I thank the judges for considering me. I will audition again in July. Count on it.

In the meantime, I will console myself by printing out the following list and taping it to the bathroom mirror:

  • Twelve publishers turned down J.K. Rowling’s manuscript about a boy wizard.
  • Of Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the MGM casting director wrote, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”
  • The list of extraordinary talent who unsuccessfully auditioned for Saturday Night Live includes Louis C.K., Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Lisa Kudrow, John Goodman, Kevin Hart, Kathy Griffin, Marc Maron, Geena Davis, Dave Foley, Richard Belzer, Zach Galifianakis, and many more.
  • Harvey Keitel auditioned for the Actor’s Studio for eight years before he was finally accepted. Now he serves as its co-president.
  • Steven Spielberg applied three times to USC Film School. They never let him in.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school freshman basketball team. Yeah, that Michael Jordan.

We close with one of my favorite quotes, conveniently supplied by the great MJ:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Next time: The Audition, Part Trois (the Notes) (yes, I’m milking this audition).

Carron Armstrong is currently in Level 3 and has been obsessed with improv and DCH ever since she discovered that someone can actually take classes to learn this stuff. She is currently negotiating to purchase the naming rights for the brand new stairs added to ease access to the stages of DCH’s Main Street theaters (Thank you, Amanda and Kyle). During the day, she’s a lawyer.

Book Review: "Girl Walks into a Bar" by Rachel Dratch

Girl Walks into a BarYou may know Rachel Dratch as Saturday Night Live (SNL) characters Debbie Downer or Zazu, the female component in The Boston Couple sketches alongside Jimmy Fallon. Or maybe you know her as a main stage Second City actor or from her two-woman show, Dratch & Fey, with someone named Tina Fey. If you still don’t know who she is, then I want to know what rock you lived under in the early to mid 2000s. My rock was called Waco, and, yes, we got NBC there. Although Dratch has not been inactive in the comedy community, in Girl Walks into a Bar (2012) Dratch tells us that the most prevalent FAQ that’s thrown her way is, “What happened to you?!” As well as talking about her childhood, how she broke into the comedy world, and an “Unofficial Guide to Being on SNL,” Dratch talks about falling into fame obscurity. She follows up this discussion about how she is only offered roles as “The Unf@#!ables” and the reasons why. The rest of the story is about being a single woman in New York City, calling to mind how possibly insane Sex and the City is.

I liked Girl Walks into a Bar, because she earnestly tells us what it is like to fail and then try again. She twice tried out for Second City classes and auditioned for SNL. Dratch concludes that the second time is the charm and dubs herself “Ol’ Two Time Dratch.” She is a wonderful example of working hard and being persistent to get where you want to be in life—something that many people need to be reminded of. However, Dratch admits that she does not have it all figured out, rarely doles out advice, and constantly wonders how the universe works. “Universe!” My favorite chapter is “Body by Shtetl,” which any woman of Eastern European descent can appreciate.

I’ll admit that if you don’t want to hear about relationships or babies, you might not like the last half of the book (I would never advocate reading only part of a book that isn’t poetry, essays, short stories, or a textbook, so read it all or not at all. Seriously.). I do think that anyone who is struggling with his or her life goals would enjoy this book. It is not a self-help book, but a story of a woman living her life and overcoming obstacles.

Because I am fairly new to improv, my favorite quote from Girl Walks into a Bar, of course, has to do with improv:

“How did I think of that?” I wondered. I didn't feel like I had thought of it. It's a sort of flow that happens when you are completely in the moment and not getting in your own way. Not trying so hard, not planning ahead, just getting out of your own head and letting the magic happen. You could apply this to any activity, of course. You could apply it to life.

Thumbs up, ma’am. Thumbs up.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.

What We're Loving: Aural Pleasures, Pleasant Surprises, Overwhelming Choices

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison drops science, Jonda Robinson makes a shocking admission, Rachel Hall can hear words, and Ryan Callahan sets a hook for next week. radio dial with lightsWell my name’s rapping David And I’m here to say I like listening to rap music on the radio like e-ver-y day

Oh, didn’t see you there! Sorry about that, I was just trying out the new skills I’ve earned after listening to rap on the radio for the last week and a half. For all you uncool listeners still checking out “rock and snore” music on the other stations, let me tell you about the awesome music of 93.3 and 94.5. What they do is take a fresh beat, lay down an informal poem, and voila, rap music!

Radio stations 93.3 and 94.5 changed their programming on 11/15 to exclusively play hip hop from the nineties, aughts, and today. Obviously hip hop stations have been around forever, but this is the first one that I’ve seen that combines the nostalgic fun of listening to songs from your childhood and rap. I’d highly recommend giving the station a listen.

So next time you’re in a car check out rap music it’ll take you far- away from here back in time to a yesteryear so just to recap my name’s David I like to rap and realize nothing rhymes with David - David Allison

bb9271ceee885807c899b0a98b406f3b[1]I’m about to use a phrase I don’t get to use very often as of late: I really enjoyed the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live. This season has been a little rough, but I faithfully tune in, like a sports fan who knows her team will probably blow the game but watches anyway, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Well, this past Saturday the team at SNL pulled out a win in my book with their Thanksgiving episode, featuring Cameron Diaz as host and musical guests Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

First of all, anytime Lil’ Baby Aidy is on the scene, I know I’m going to enjoy it. She and her girls were back with “Back Home Ballers,” touching on all the perks of coming home for the holidays--having access to a stocked fridge because your mom went to Costco, doing a load of laundry for just one sock, and your mom putting out “bowls, bowls, all type of bowls.” My favorite part is when Aidy has to deal with the neighborhood paparazzi and make small talk with Jean, because her reaction is about the same as mine in that situation.

Another highlight for me was the “High School Theater Show,” and I can’t even really explain why. Maybe it was the fact that it reminded me of the seriousness with which I took not-so-serious things in high school. Maybe it was the biting commentary on the death of Main Street, censorship, and our addiction to social media. Or maybe, just maybe, it was all those boxes. Either way, it made me laugh, and I enjoyed seeing so many members of the cast on stage together.

I enjoyed a lot of other parts of the show as well--the "School House Rock" cold open, Kate Mckinnon’s Angela Merkel on Weekend Update, Kenan’s poetry interpretation of Friends, the Night Murmurs ladies, and the always entertaining Bruno Mars. If you haven’t been checking out SNL lately, I’d recommend you give this one a chance. - Jonda Robinson

Innovo_Audio[1]Growing up I was always very voracious reader. Getting me to read was never an issue for my parents. I always read above my reading level, and by the time I was in seventh grade I had already Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Twice. Not to brag (even though I totally am) but I was incredibly smart. My parents never forced me to read so I’m not sure what fueled my adolescent love of hard books and libraries but I think I’ve narrowed it down to two extremely important moments in my life.

1) Watching I Love Lucy for the very time as a kid. The very first episode of Lucy I ever saw was “Lucy thinks Ricky is trying to murder her.” In this episode, Lucy is captivated by the murderous novel she is currently reading. She gets so caught up in the book that her reality becomes distorted causing her to believe that Ricky is trying to kill her. Being that into a piece of literature, minus the part where you think your husband is going to kill you, is pretty awesome. If you haven't seen this episode immediately drop what you're doing and do so; or stop being my friend.

2) I really wanted to be a lawyer. Again, I have no clue why but it even at the tender age of four I knew being a backup dancer for MC Hammer probably wasn't going to happen.

Unfortunately around the time I became a teenager, joined the band, discovered Saturday Night Live, and realized that the no one would ever love me the way the Backstreet Boys would, reading fell by the wayside. In fact, if someone told to read a cool article in whatever girl magazine was popular in the late 90s or early 2000s , I would proudly proclaim I didn't know how to read. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a few since then but it’s definitely not something I make a habit of. I am not proud this at all. I’ve admired those with bookshelves full of worn books due to the amount of times their owner has read them. My bookshelves are just full of DVDs, vinyl records, and textbooks from school. Not cool.

This would have remained true if it wasn't for a very late, but oh so on time, discovery. Books on tape. Where have they been all my life? For the record, I know audio books have been around for quite some time; I just never paid it any attention. Books on tape have shown themselves to be the greatest invention since the scrunchie. Yes, I believe the scrunchie is up there with wheel, fire, and the stoplight. If you’re a girl/boy who has long hair, has ever had long hair, or a man with daughters, you will agree with me. Books on tape are the equivalent to that strange piece of advice you get from an uncle but always brushed off until something big happens and you realize he was right.

Who came up with this beautiful idea? Does he or she have a Pulitzer or whatever other great literature awards there are yet? They should. It is because of this super hero of knowledge that I have “read” the most amount of the books ever. Literally, I feel like I have listened/read so many books right now that I could successfully take down Ken Jennings in double Jeopardy. Three-to-five collective hours of listening to someone read to you throughout your drive to work, getting ready for the day, or preparing for sleep and you’re done. This is amazing. Never again do you have to worry about having the proper lighting or your eyes getting tired. Audio books are the answer. Now all I have to do is buy the actual book to place on my bookshelf. That way I’ll have a visual representation of how learned I am. - Rachel Hall

100bullets[1]Choosing only one thing to love this week is simply beyond my abilities. There are too many entertainments pulling at my heart. The penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy was so good that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat. Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice beguiles me with its flaky charm and barrage of jokes,. The comic book adaptation of Frank Miller's Robocop 2 screenplay has kept me company on a few cold New England nights. A visit back home for Thanksgiving rekindled a passion for Azzarello and Risso's 100 Bullets and led me to their other works, like Spaceman and Jonny Double. To praise one would be to slight the others.

December also brings the annual tradition of best of lists. Also know as "Hey, Ryan, here's a bunch of stuff to buy. Immediately. Why are you waiting?" These lists often serve to remind me of all the great things I've read and watched this year, while simultaneously shaming me for not having watched or read everything that someone might be considered good. You know, in case someone mentions a book or movie at a party and they ask what I thought of it, and I have to say I don't know of it, like a idiot. I live my life to avoid moments like that. Not-knowing is the worst. I can only assume you live the same way. That's why, starting next week, and for the rest of the year, What We're Loving will take a look back at 2014. Hopefully we cover all the bases of goodness so you won't be left feeling like an idiot on New Year's Eve because you never heard of Elect H. Mouse  State Judge. - Ryan Callahan

 

Book Review: "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

Yes PleaseI’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. Amy PoehlerYes 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 Please fortune cookie

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!