For all the Amy Poehler Fans out there – Yes Please!

In terms of the genre of Yes Please, it is a funky mix of comedic memoir written by Amy Poehler about her life combined with motivational advice from her experiences, and humorous (and dark) references to the business of improvisation in NYC. It is a book with a delightful scrapbook quality, adding pictures and report cards, haikus and letters to break up the rambling spiels that Poehler tends to go on.

As a longtime fan of Poehler’s comedy, first on Saturday Night Live and then her lead role as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, I bought her book immediately hoping to find her snarky, quick-witted voice embedded in the text. Fortunately, her book is chockfull of humorous nuggets of advice and her frank honestly on sex and drugs. “I think sex is great,” she says starting off her chapter “My World Famous Sex Advice.” “I love it and I am here to say I am good at it” (183). Poehler writes just as she speaks. Short and to the point at times, and then rambles off in a hilarious manner when you least expect it, and ending in an exclamation point! She is a true queen of enthusiasm on and off the page.

Her book is split up into three parts: Say Whatever You Want, Do Whatever You Like, and Be Whoever You Are. Before she dives in, she has a preface titled, “instructions for how to use this book” where she explains her reasoning for the content.

“[Let’s] just call this book what it really is: an obvious money grab to support my notorious online shopping addiction. I have already spent the advance on fancy washcloths from Amazon, so I need this book to really sell a lot of copies or else I am in trouble. Chop-chop, people” (21).

We immediately get a taste of her humor in this section, the book is supposed to be funny, and it really is—but there are definitely some moments of light emotional sharing and earnest advice she wants her readers to know.

My favorite parts of Yes Please were Poehler’s recounts of memories on and offstage of Saturday Night Live and her journey to stardom as a female comedy actress. Because of this, I feel like the reader who enjoys her work as much as I do will enjoy the book just as much. Some don’t have the same taste in comedy or haven’t been able to experience Saturday Night Live or Parks and Recreation. I would advise readers be aware of her onscreen works before reading the book to get the full enjoyment (or not) out of it. Nobody wants to be left out, and knowing her coworkers and other names in comedy gives the reader more amusement out of it.

There are so many wonderful name-drops and recounts of popular celebrities that makes the reader feel like they’re getting the in on the lives of Hollywood. My favorite bits include:

“Colin Farrell was super hungover and super nice. Hugh Jackman was incredibly kind and sent everyone a case of Foster’s beer. Jessica Simpson was the prettiest host I had ever seen without makeup. Bernie Mac was the sweetest and the kindest. Matthew McConaughey wore a sarong in Lorne’s office, I danced at a club with Christina Aguilera, and Antonio Banderas smelled the best of any host” (168).

These are the tidbits of information the audience of SNL have always wanted to hear, and I believe it was the recounts of backstage moments at SNL that really sells this book.

Since Poehler is such a comedian, reading a more serious side to her life was unexpected and delightfully humanistic. I was unaware that she is divorced with two children, and she explains that,

“I don’t want to talk about my divorce because it is too sad and too personal. I also don’t like people knowing my shit” (116).

She openly admits a lot of her insecurities and flaws with regret and dark humor, which gives the book a very complex feel.

Unfortunately, I want to skip over the parts where Poehler included writing from Seth Myers, her mother, and her director’s notes. They’re input was well-intentioned, I think Poehler wanted to give her readers an outside view of what her closest friends and family think of her, but I found it very irrelevant. Those sections felt like a list of inside jokes that lost my attention completely.

Overall I really enjoyed Yes Please, and I admit I was expecting to, especially because I enjoy Poehler’s humor immensely. I was thoroughly surprised and delighted with her wit and writing style, and since reading it; I have many motivational quotes from her hanging on my refrigerator. My favorite one of these being:

“If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world” (166).


Yes Please

Amy Poehler

352 pages. Dey Street Books. $17.99

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