Did this book leave me with a smile on my face or looking like I just finished the world’s longest board meeting?
I read Bossypants by Tina Fey a few months backed and really enjoyed the light-hearted humor. But something was missing. I mean, what is Tina Fey without Amy Poehler? I had to pick up Yes Please as well and give it a read.
Here is the Amazon summary:
Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?
If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.
What I Didn’t Like:
First, the summary is pretty misleading. I really wouldn’t call this book “inspirational.” Smart, witty, and creative: yes. Inspirational? Not quite. In Yes Please, Poehler talks often about how long it took for her to break through into the world of comedy (and how, when she first did, was often the only woman in the room). I think that subject could have been quite interesting and really inspirational to other hopeful comedians. But, this book really isn’t about any of that. Poehler gives an overview of her background but, as she points out, no one really wants to hear about the tough times when she didn’t have two quarters to rub together. What they do want to hear about is all of her famous friends and stories (preferably funny) about each of them. But even then, Poehler really doesn’t deliver on this. She spends a lot of time namedropping, but there isn’t much substance to these chapters.
She wrote extensively about Parks and Recreation or the Upright Citizens Brigade. For Parks and Recreation, she spoke about the characters, and even included audio clips from her favorite scenes. Considering I have never been a fan of Parks and Recreation or The Office (which the filming style is modeled after), this didn’t appeal much to me. But I am probably just a one-off.
While I love that she gushed over the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), I wish she had written more about Saturday Night Live (SNL). This was a huge part of Bossypants, but in Yes Please is brought up mainly in reference to her pregnancy. When hearing about Poehler’s comedic upbringing, I was hoping to hear 50/50 about SNL and the UCB, but it was much more 20/80, respectively.
She also talks extensively about how hard it is to write a book. It was the subject of the whole first chapter! By the time I had finished that section and the joke was still being repeated, it was a little like, “OK, we get it. Writing a book is hard. So…why did you?”
Well, maybe because she wanted to let her fans get to know her better and is willing to share a thing or two about her personal life?! Psych. She keeps her private life very…private. I can 100% respect anyone’s desire to do so, but isn’t the point of writing a memoir to open up publicly? Poehler seems like a really sweet person and I was hoping to get more of a glimpse into the woman “who has a face made for wigs,” as her makeup artist once told her.
But she does open up about two specific things: her volunteer work in Haiti and a time she publicly and unknowingly made fun of a disabled girl. Both chapters felt self-serving. One was to make her feel warm and fuzzy, and the other was to offer an excuse of her limited involvement in a skit and explain how she made a large donation to the girl’s college fund years later to make up for it. What is the take-away here, Poehler? I love that you did volunteer work in Haiti, but where do we go from there? How can your fans get involved? Why was this work personally important to you? Are you still offering support or was this just a press trip? I think it is really important to talk about your mistakes, but why is there a whole chapter in your book about how you didn’t know the doll represented a real girl? Are you telling us to fact check? That it is never too late to apologize? That if you piss someone’s rich friends off really badly, you can make a donation to clear the air? Both sections left me wanting. It was the only time I felt Poehler starting to open up, and right when I was about to walk through the door, she closed it gently in my face and suggested that I find my sugar elsewhere.
What I Liked:
Don’t worry, I plan on ending this review on a high note. I enjoyed her chapters on pregnancy (props to her for working right up to the day she delivered), sex advice (it was so funny I shared the section with my best friend), and awards shows (something she calls “wanting the pudding”), to name a few. Especially with the award show chapter, Poehler lets the reader into the backstory behind the skits we saw while watching the Golden Globes and talks about how she never wanted the puddin’ until she knew she could have it. Finally, some insider knowledge and comedic life advice!
Poehler is obviously a talented comedic writer and, at a basic level, Yes Please delivers on that. You can read it in a day (I personally listed to it while driving from Southern California to Central Oregon) and it will provide you with some solid laughs, perfect for a summer day. But…there are better books on the market. Since I started this review with a comparison between Fey and Poehler, I am going to bring things full circle and end it with another. If you only have time (or the desire) to read one, I would go with Bossypants. But if you choose Fey, Poehler, or both, definitely get the audio book version read by the author! The delivery of their spoken jokes far outweighs the pictures that accompany the hardcopies.
What did you think of Yes Please? Let us know below.