Comedic genius, Amy Poehler, best known for her performances on “S.N.L.” and “Parks and Recreation” can add voice artist, director and producer to her many talents but falls short as an autobiographer in her recently released memoir-esque book, “Yes Please.”
Unlike most memoirs and autobiographies, “Yes Please” is organized in a bit of a messy, almost chaotic manner. Poehler often points out how difficult it is to write a book — a point emphasized by the chapter she has former “S.N.L.” actor, Seth Meyers, write along with the passages submitted by her parents. In addition to these bits written by other people, Poehler stuffs her book with pictures, hand written notes from younger days, scraps of screenplays and even a hand-written acrostic poem she wrote to her partner in crime, Tina Fey. The actress admits that writing a book is so difficult that it is like “hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.”
Despite the trouble Poehler seemed to have writing this book, it was finished and published with all of its imperfections. The beauty and tragedy of this book is that it is written much like how a person would talk. While easy to read, it is often difficult to follow the author’s train of thought and to remember what she has or has not shared about her life. The narrative skips around to different parts of her life much like how the average person would as they converse with their friends about the interesting things they have accomplished, and she does so even within the same chapter. Usually these blurbs about her life follow under the umbrella of her chapter title, but they are still often hard to follow.
Despite these major shortcomings, Poehler does regale the readers with many insightful blurbs about her life and her journey from a lower middle-class family to one of comedy’s improv queens.
One of the most interesting tidbits was her time with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv group she helped create. Poehler spends many a pages talking about the talent that came and went through the UCB and about some of the shows they put on, including their most popular show, Assscat. The best part, she points out, is that the UCB is still performing and has since branched out from simple improv shows to teaching improv classes at several of their locations. One of UCB’s locations is a couple blocks off of the strip in Los Angeles where they put on amazing shows that are oftentimes free of charge.
A refreshing aspect to her writing is that she is not afraid to concede that she is really just advertising for the UCB. She is also not afraid to admit when something is not fun to talk about, or that she may be remembering things through rose (and weed) colored glasses, a regrettable part of her life on which she plans on lying to her kids.
If there was one feature that made this book shine, it would not be the funny quips she threw in throughout the book, her amusing rambles and analogies, or even the hilarious corrections by Michael Shur, but rather, it would be her honesty. Writing is hard, she states, but so is divorce and the road to becoming famous. Amy Poehler does not sugarcoat her words. She admits when she has done wrong and when she is pushing her own agenda. So while this book of is not the most polished or easy to read, it is upfront with all her imperfections and dark places unabashedly laid out for all to see which ultimately makes this book a good read.