Monday, August 31, 2015

Book review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This one you've got to listen to on audio. So much so that I can't imagine that the print book doesn't feel like an afterthought. After all, in the audiobook, you've got Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, and Kathleen Turner reading the chapter titles (and Kathleen Stewart voices the evil devil voice inside Amy in one chapter) but you've also got Amy in conversation with Seth Myers from SNL and Michael Schur, the creator of Parks & Recreation. Oh, and Amy's parents. And the last chapter is live at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater which Amy co-founded. This audiobook is great. Not because it's profound or because Amy dishes great gossip, but because US Weekly is right... celebrities are just like us.

One of the awesomest things about Amy Poehler is that you believe you could have gone to school with her or worked with her, and you just know you'd have been friends. She discusses her career in detail, and I loved that she really approached it the way a college graduate would approach any career, with working on her skills, networking, and diligently applying. She didn't expect to be "discovered" or to become famous overnight. She worked her way up, she struggled, and a big way she got to where she is was by saying "yes" a lot. The title supposedly speaks to the first rule of improv, which is that you always say "yes" in any improv situation, but I think it speaks more to her own personal rule of life which is to approach situations with a positive outlook and to try things at least once, even if they could be embarrassing or scary. Sure, she wasn't thrilled with impersonating Hillary Clinton, as she didn't think she did a very good impression, and as she was increasingly more pregnant with each appearance on SNL, so when Ms. Clinton herself appeared on the show, as awkward as it could be, she just dove in.

I often conflate Amy with Leslie Knope in my mind but I am pleased to say I can now separate them and Amy does seem more healthy and balanced. She says no sometimes (to impositions on her personal time), she doesn't go overboard, and she doesn't always do the right thing. (I know, Leslie doesn't either, but in a different way.) I very much appreciated her chapter about the time she needed to apologize for something that happened on SNL, both to a celebrity, and to a complete stranger, and how she agonized over it for years and even though when she finally did it, it was very late, there was still value in it, proving the adage "better late than never."

Amy is so relatable and open and friendly, that you don't mind that you don't get any juicy gossip about the end of her first marriage to Will Arnett. The story about her going into labor right before her last episode of SNL as Hillary Clinton was to go live (and right after--seriously the day after--her ob/gyn died) is pretty excellent. Both an example of what we all hope to avoid, and yet the kind of everyday disasters that happen to all of us, no matter who we are.

I couldn't stop listening to this book. I listened to it morning, noon, and night, and I even weeded my garden (the WHOLE thing!) in order to listen longer. I want Amy to be my friend. Meanwhile, read this book.

I checked the audiobook out of my library, via Overdrive's app.

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