In the last few years, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham and other female comedians have shaken up the publishing world with their comedy memoirs. Now, it’s Amy Poehler’s turn.
Poehler’s “Yes Please” is a representation of who she is: funny, smart and honest. In the preface of the book, she explains that “Yes, please” is the answer she likes to use to things in her personal and professional life. The “yes” is inspired by her days in improvisational comedy, while the “please” is “from the wisdom of knowing that agreeing to do something usually means you aren’t doing it alone.”
The book is divided into three parts: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like” and “Be Whoever You Are.” Throughout each part of the book, we get a glimpse into Poehler’s journey from her origins in Massachusetts, working on the Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy group, to starring on “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation.”
With chapter titles like “My Books on Divorce,” “Humping Justin Timberlake,” “My World-Famous Sex Advice,” “Obligatory Drug Stories” and “Lessons I Learned on Mushrooms,” Poehler isn’t aiming to play it safe with readers. She also doesn’t shy away from talking about some of the difficulties she’s had to face in her life so far. She addresses her recent divorce, past drug use, inadvertently offending people with a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and other things with a straightforward, but realistic tone.
What makes “Yes Please” stand out from other comedy memoirs is the fact that it puts a spin on the conventional memoir. There are mementos from Poehler’s past, a letter from Hilary Clinton, comedic haikus, a guest chapter written by Seth Meyers, side notes about “Parks and Recreation” from show creator Michael Schur, and general life advice. By the end of the book, you feel as though Poehler is a friend you finally got close with in a span of 331 pages.
Structurally, the book jumps around a lot between different time periods of her life because Poehler viewed this writing process as a chance to unpack her mind. You never know what you’re going to get at the turn of each chapter. Will it be a chapter about juicy gossip on the set of “Saturday Night Live,” or a chapter about her family life? To the average reader who might like their books to be in a precise and chronological order, this might be a little overwhelming. But if you don’t care, then this an adventure.
So, if you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside Amy Poehler’s head, “Yes Please” is the perfect gateway.