Last weekend, I finished reading Yes Please, comedian/writer/actor/producer/director Amy Poehler’s fabulous memoir. I read Bossypants, Tina Fey’s memoir, during last semester, and Yes Please is certainly a great companion to it.
It took me a while to get on the Amy Poehler bandwagon. But once I began watching her show, Parks and Recreation, on Netflix during my senior year of high school, I was hooked. (I even wrote an essay about the Parks and Rec finale that was published in my college’s newspaper.) She and Tina Fey are some of the funniest ladies I’ve seen on TV, and I loved getting to read their stories.
Yes Please follows Poehler’s career journey from playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she was a fourth-grader in Boston to her various improv squads in Chicago. My heart swelled as she talked about Tina Fey– just as Fey had done about Poehler in her own book– and as she and Seth Myers both told their stories of meeting each other. The compassion and straight-up friendship Poehler has with her fellow comedians is admirable for someone with a career easily shaken by Hollywood’s drama and greed.
Poehler’s book reads like a conversation in your hand. Her outrageous anecdotes kept me reading on and on about childhood friends with crazy families in Boston and about her improv friends doing what they liked to do and not caring if they were poor. If I could choose one word to describe this book, it would be “camaraderie.”
The most captivating aspect of Yes Please is that Poehler maintains two intriguing faces: one that is entirely relatable, and one that is so outlandish that you just can’t believe she lives this kind of crazy life. Relatable Amy talks about her inner demon who tells her that she’s ugly and not funny and should really do something about those eyebrows. Relatable Amy talks about the pains of divorce and the sheer adoration she has for her two little sons. Relatable Amy leads a charge and screams, “WE’RE ALL WEIRD! CAN’T WE JUST LIVE IN HARMONY AND GET OVER IT ALREADY?!”
Meanwhile, Outlandish Amy relates happenstances that somehow brought her and Seth Myers together as the ultimate funny-friendship-duo (after Tina and Amy, of course) many years (and many times) before their work on Saturday Night Live. Outlandish Amy recounts stories of being mega-pregnant and rapping beside Sarah Palin and opening for Patti Smith with an improv group. Outlandish Amy knows about “the biz” and isn’t afraid to tell you the inside-scoop about Hollywood/New York, which is that everyone is much more messed up than you could imagine. Outlandish Amy, like Relatable Amy, is weird and proud.
What I gained from Yes Please is a model of someone who’s got a lot going on but still manages to feel free and joyful amidst all the madness, success, and failures. Just from reading her words about life and everything in-between, I gained a sense that it really is possible to care less about what other people think. And living that way is definitely the happiest way to live.
The core of Poehler’s advice lies in the titles of the three main parts of her book: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like,” and “Be Whoever You Are.” It really is that simple.
Have you read Yes Please? What did you think of it? Who is a model that shows how you want to live your life? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!!