Seth Meyers

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!

DCF14: Heel Turn

5903468The act I'm most excited to see at the Dallas Comedy Festival is Heel Turn. This Oklahoma City-based troupe was formed in 2013 by members Ann-Lisette Caveny, Kellen Hodgeson, Tim Huckeby, and Kelly Lawson out of "a shared sense of humor and a love of sports entertainment." As a lover of all things sports-entertainment, AKA pro-wrestling, I enjoy seeing it influence other art forms. The members of Heel Turn took the time last week to speak as one voice about great sketch, the virtues of patience, and Ric Flair. - Ryan Is your troupe named after the popular pro-wrestling form of betrayal? YES! YES! YES!

What are the similarities between pro-wrestling and improv? Pro-wrestling and improv both take a lot of showmanship. There is also a unique give and take relationship between the performers and the audience. Pro-wrestlers, like improvisers, have to take care of their fellow performers, make them look good, and always be prepared to lose.

Who would be the Four Horsemen of Comedy? We'll give the Four Horsemen of Comedy title to the guys working late night: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers.

Who influenced you growing up? Who excites you now? Growing up we were all big fans of sketch comedy like SNL, MadTV, The State, Kids in the Hall, even All That. Right now we're really loving how much great sketch is on television. We're very inspired by Key and Peele, Kroll Show, Portlandia and Comedy Bang! Bang!

Do you thrive off the energy at a festival? Oooohh yeeeaaahhh! There's nothing like the feeling of performing at a festival. It's a very exciting atmosphere, everyone is jacked. It's like our version of a WWE Pay-Per-View.

What's the best comedy lesson you learned recently? Patience is key. We love to play fast. We also love when improv captivates an audience with slower play and high emotional stakes. We've been working on a happy mix of the two. You know you want to see Hulk Hogan hit that big leg drop, brother. But its so much better to see him get beat down then battle back to overcome the odds with the help of the Hulkamaniacs. Then that leg drop means something.

How is the sketch show coming along? Our sketch show is a work in progress. We're writing scripts based on scenes we've improvised in shows and rehearsals. There isn't much sketch comedy happening in OKC right now, so we're excited to bring it to the stage later this year.

You can form an improv troupe of pro wrestlers and comedians from all eras. Who is in this troupe? What is the troupe's name? This troupe would be insane. We'd go with Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Dolph Ziggler, and CM Punk teaming up with Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Will Forte, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. They'd be called WrestleBrainia.

See Heel Turn perform at The Dallas Comedy Festival on Friday, March 21st at 7:00PM. Get your tickets here.