Monday, January 5, 2015

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

      Yes Please is a memoir self-authored by SNL actress, writer, and comedian Amy Poehler. 
      Sort of.
      When I say it's sort of a memoir, I mean that it is autobiographical in nature and there are mentions of Poehler's personal life--however, she does not dive deep into detail about her life. The parts of her life that she talks about, she does so matter-of-factly and briefly before moving onto the next topic. In addition to this, there are sections that she hands over to other people in her life in order that they might weigh in on her ideas...or maybe just because she was tired one night and needed additional chapters, she she handed the reins over to Seth Meyers and Mike Schur who give some outside perspective about what working with Poehler and being her friend is like. 
      But the autobiographical bits are not the focus of the book. I put myself on hold for this book before it was even published, because I am a fan of Amy Poehler in general--her acting, her writing, her general niceness, etc. I was expecting a straight forward autobiography. What I got was so much better than that. The focus on the book is really more life advice, tips on succeeding in the world as a decent human being, and how to be really really good at what you do. With chapter titles like "Talk to Yourself Like You're Ninety," "Gimme That Pudding," "Don't Forget to Tip Your Waitresses," "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," and "The Robots Will Kill Us All: a Conclusion" Poehler lays down some straight forward advice about living your life the way you want to, making the best decisions about what is best for yourself, and getting away with stating the truth with minimal repercussions. Even the title of the book is advice on how to not be a terrible person, and still have a powerful presence:
      "It is called Yes Please because it is a constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes Please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please. I love saying "yes" and I love saying "please." Saying "yes" doesn't mean I don't know how to say no, and saying "please" doesn't mean I am waiting for permission. "Yes please" sounds powerful and concise. It's a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman. It's also a title I can tell my kids. I like when they say "yes please" because most people are rude and nice manners are the secret key to the universe." 
      And lest you think that this book lacks the comedic wit and lightheartedness of other comedic biographical works--if you listen to the audiobook, Poehler turns the narration briefly over to Sir Patrick Stewart in a section containing haiku about plastic surgery. The whole book is layered with Poehler's wit and comedic timing, even though it is more of a life-advice book than a memoir. It's what makes it stand out from other comedic memoirs. Basically, I read this book as a how-to manual on how to become Amy Poehler. And I can think of way worse things to be.
      Yes Please by Amy Poehler is available at the Ocean City Free Public Library.

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