I just finished the audiobook version of Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. After having listened to her soul sister Tina Fey’s book Bossypants the week that the GIlstraps got married, I knew that reading this book wouldn’t even be an option. I was going to have to hear it. And I’m really glad that that is the format that I chose. Poehler constantly makes references that she is reading this book in an underground audio booth that she constructed beneath Mount Rushmore years before she was famous. And of course, because she’s hilarious, the book is even more hilarious with her reading and her voice literally saying all of the things that are in the book. However, unlike most audiobooks, she isn’t the only talker. She brings in Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, her parents, and a slew of other people to read sections, titles, and to do their own voices during stories. In short, it really feels like you’re eavesdropping on some of the coolest people you know rather than just walking your dog around the apartment complex parking lot with your headphones in.
The book takes a fairly standard format. It contains stories of Poehler’s childhood, education, being young and scrappy, starting and growing with the Upright Citizens Brigade, her years on SNL and Parks and Recreation, and essays about being a mother, a woman, and a human being all at the same time. Poehler rarely if ever lets herself off the hook. If she did something crappy or mean or dumb, she presents it just as it happened (maybe tweaked for better comic effect). Stuff that she isn’t willing to do that to, she leaves out of the book. And I can applaud that. Things like her divorce or overly specific details about her children aren’t meant for the ravenous masses to digest, and so she keeps those as part of her personal life outside the memoir. Just because she wrote a book doesn’t mean that people get to own every little piece of her.
One of my favorite stories from the book is contained in this interview:
However, not everything is light-hearted. Poehler tells an extended story of a sketch that went wrong on SNL that ended up offending the people it was based on. She didn’t have the guts to apologize for for years (although eventually she did and it was accepted by the hurt parties). Poehler doesn’t try to present herself as the best possible person. She freely admits that she doesn’t like most people she meets and that as she gets older her patience for people she doesn’t find interesting is dwindling. She talks numerous times about her drug use when she was younger (which was recreational and not like Million Little Pieces tragic). But through it all, the listener ends up liking Poehler because she seems real and like a rougher Tina Fey.
The book doesn’t revolutionize the memoir world, and if you’re not a fan of Poehler’s, it probably won’t do very much for you. But if you’ve always wanted to spend some time hanging out with a woman that just wants to build a park, then I recommend giving this book a listen.
JMF Rating: 6.5/10
‘Til next time,