Funny person Poehler has turned her hand to writing a memoir, and clearly finds it difficult. This is apparent throughout the text, primarily because she repeats this point so often. This earnest writing is what typifies Poehler’s novel, and I’d expect nothing less. She discusses her children, her improv career, sex, Boston, motherhood, her family, celebrities, porn, her television work, use of narcotics and more. Poehler tackles each topic candidly, and does so with her brilliant (although she claims debilitating) charm. She even addresses issues she is reluctant too, briefly touching on her divorce, and writes a solemn regarding a uninformed joke she had made years previously on “Saturday Night Live”.
However, though I am completely enamoured by Ms. Poehler, her talent and with do not blind me to the flaws of this text. Structurally, it is chaotic. It is not the non-linear style that is jarring, but rather the disconnection between chapters.
Poehler doesn’t jump, but leaps between topic matters. One chapter we’re indulging in her opinions on award shows, the next we are immersed in her complicated relationship with sleep. I am not being demeaning – it is honestly intriguing to discover how the ever-busy Poehler manages her sleeping pattern (especially with sleep apnea), it is simply that there seemed to be no correlation or transition between the sections.
The only link between these seems to be an umbrella title that Poehler provides the section of the memoir that they reside within. These titles, and other parts of Poehler’s writing are seemingly self-indulgent and often sentimental, seemingly pulled from the mouth of an over-enthusiastic life style coach (or Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website, I’m not sure). Between this spiritual and overly analytical rhetoric, the text can often weigh itself down with that is unnecessary. This however is likely solely my personal objection, and perhaps I (wrongly) expected it to exude comedy throughout. Succinctly described by the memoir’s author, this may be “Good for you, not for me”.
I insist that this does not mean that there are not reassuring or insightful passages of advice within the pages of “Yes Please”. Poehler’s opinions on the constructed working-mom/stay-at-home binary/feud are pragmatic. Her views on drugs are progressive, and her work ethic and mothering are enviable traits. Perhaps one of the most endearing parts of the memoir comes from a fantastic character description of each of her co-stars on television show, “Parks and Recreation”. Though she does this throughout (whilst listing and name dropping like no other (as she demonstrates however, she is more than entitled to do so), speaking highly of Tina Fey, Seth Meyers (who writes a section in the memoir), her parents, Chris Cooper, Will Forte and many others, her words here are nothing but kind and seemingly genuine, person after person. As Aubrey Plaza labeled it in a recent interview, it was not only very Amy Poehler, but very Leslie Knope (see “Parks and Recreation” for Leslie Knope).
It is not Leslie Knope you will be longing for after you have put this down however, it is Amy Poehler herself. The actress/comedienne/mother/writer/director/producer/and so forth succeeds in being very relatable and likeable, and you want nothing more than to be her friend (even more so than you did before). More importantly, you definitely want to participate in a photo shoot with her (see “Yes Please” for further details).
Genre: Autobiography, Entertainment
Further Reading Suggestions:
Dear Fatty by Dawn French
Marty Feldman: The Biography of a Comedy Legend by Robert Ross