Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Amy Poehler? The absurdly funny, talented, and lovable comedic actress, writer, and producer seems like any gal’s dream coffee date. She pretty much exudes awkward cool. And because her book is entitled “Yes Please,” she obviously wants to be my friend, too.
I expected Poehler’s book to be a memoir of nonchalant encounters with other amazing stars, descriptions of Saturday Night Live hijinks, and her delightfully bumpy story of growing into the well-respected role model she is today (with lots of pictures). There were plenty of pictures, and the book is printed on glossy paper that makes it seriously heavy (thanks for the great arms, Amy!) But while her self-effacing humor did not surprise me, her pseudo-older-sister-giving advice vibe did.
The book is broken into sections with inspirational self-help sounding subheadings, such as “Say Whatever You Want” and “Do Whatever You Like.” The tale of how Amy Poehler became a household name is sprinkled throughout the book, interspersed with ironically amusing segments like “Every Mother Needs a Wife” and cleverly designed sections about the perils of believing the head over the heart and vice versa. Many of these chapters/parts of the book are images instead of literal text, which makes them fun to read. She shares some very real, very difficult moments, such as a painful misunderstanding she had because of a skit she performed on SNL about a child with a disability without knowing the backstory. The guilt, heartache, and other emotions associated with this encounter are authentic and real. These are the moments that make the book fantastic in my opinion; the hilarious observations on life, love, and work are just the icing.
Near the very beginning Poehler shares the following gem: “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again–Good for her! Not for me.” The idea that we can be happy for others when we divorce ourselves from comparison is a simple one in theory, but not in practice. She returns to this concept a few times, and even describes the shadow side she feels exists inside herself. Wise big-sister Amy is also purposeful about emphasizing the amount of sacrifice it took for her to be in her current situation. Sure, there are entertaining moments in her comedy club tryouts, and in the awful jobs that paid the bills while she went to them. But I felt I get a better insight into Poehler’s overarching views on life based on what she wrote derisively about: trying to skate by or cut corners. “Good or bad, the reality is most people become “famous” or get “great jobs” after a very, very long tenure shoveling shit and not because they handed their script to someone on the street.” Work hard, kids. Don’t expect it to come easy.
That means I’ll have to double my efforts to set up a gal date with my new BFF.