By Gia Pilgrim, Assistant Editor
In terms of the genre of Yes Please, it is a funky mix of comedic memoir written by Amy Poehler about her life combined with motivational advice from her experiences, and humorous (and dark) references to the business of improvisation in NYC.
It is a book with a delightful scrapbook quality, adding pictures and report cards, haikus and letters to break up the rambling spiels that Poehler tends to go on.
As a longtime fan of Poehler’s comedy, first on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and then her lead role as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, I bought her book immediately hoping to find her snarky, quick-witted voice embedded in the text. Fortunately, her book is chockfull of humorous nuggets of advice and her frank honesty. “I think sex is great,” she says starting off her chapter. “I love it and I am here to say I am good at it” (183). Poehler writes just as she speaks. Short and to the point at times, and then rambles off when you least expect it, ending in an exclamation point! She is a true queen of enthusiasm on and off the page.
Her book is split up into three parts: Say Whatever You Want, Do Whatever You Like, and Be Whoever You Are. Before she dives in, she has a preface titled, “instructions for how to use this book” where she explains her reasoning for the content. “[Let’s] just call this book what it really is: an obvious money grab to support my notorious online shopping addiction. I have already spent the advance on fancy washcloths from Amazon, so I need this book to really sell a lot of copies or else I am in trouble. Chop-chop, people” (21). The book is supposed to be funny, and it really is—but there are definitely some moments of light emotional sharing and earnest advice she wants her readers to know.
There are so many wonderful name-drops and recounts of popular celebrities that makes the reader feel like they’re getting the in on the lives of Hollywood. My favorite bits include: “Colin Farrell was super hungover and super nice. Hugh Jackman was incredibly kind and sent everyone a case of Foster’s beer. Jessica Simpson was the prettiest host I had ever seen without makeup. Bernie Mac was the sweetest and the kindest. Matthew McConaughey wore a sarong in Lorne’s office, I danced at a club with Christina Aguilera, and Antonio Banderas smelled the best of any host” (168). These are the tidbits of information the audience of SNL have always wanted to hear, and I believe it was the recounts of backstage moments at SNL that really sells this book.
Overall I really enjoyed Yes Please, and I admit I was expecting to, especially because I enjoy Poehler’s humor immensely. I was thoroughly surprised and delighted with her wit and writing style, and since reading it; I have many motivational quotes from her hanging on my refrigerator. My favorite one of these being: “If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world” (166).
352 pages. Dey Street Books. $17.99