Monday, September 21, 2015
"Yes Please": Poignant and Real
I never thought much about Amy Poehler on SNL. It wasn't that I didn't think she was funny, but I never really gave her much thought. At the time she was a cast member along with her "comedy wife" Tina Fey, I was living in Philadelphia without cable. We only got two channels on our t.v. and we didn't get NBC.
I fell in love with Tina Fey after I had been prompted by friends and family members alike to watch 30 Rock. My husband and I binge watched all the seasons. When Poehler's Parks and Recreation came out, I was in another phase. I was pregnant with my daughter Story and not all that interested in jerky camera movements and characters glancing at the camera to get laughs. I started to really pay attention to Amy Poehler when she co-hosted the Golden Globes with Tina Fey and they (as Amy Poehler would say) "crushed." So many people told me that I had to watch Parks and Recreation, but even though I had cable at that point in my life, I still didn't have the time to watch another comedy.
After reading "Yes Please", I am a fan of Amy's going so far as to begin binge watching Parks and Recreation (after one weekend I am already through the first 3 seasons!). Although the New York Times gave "Yes Please" a scathing review, I would like to respectfully disagree. The reviewer said that Amy doesn't know how to write, cuts on her looks too much, and apologizes for how boring her book is. I'm not sure if I read the same book, but I saw this book as a humble gift by a very talented writer, comedian and actress whose blue collar beginnings did not stop her from becoming the revered and lauded phenom that she is today.
Does she explain how agonizing it is to write a book? Yes, because anyone who has ever written a book knows that it is hard. Does she delve into her relationship with her appearance? Yes, because any woman (and man with the exception of the dude who wrote the mean review) would understand what growing up with asymmetrical, not classically beautiful features means. It doesn't mean that she thinks she is ugly, it just means that she is highly aware of the fact that she is neither drop dead model gorgeous or homely. She's somewhere in between. Does she sometimes opt out of the comedic in this memoir / autobiography account of her life and instead go for a more universal take on humanity and the hard work that it takes to become a star? Yes, and that is because she's being honest and real and at times really funny as she is being honest and real.
There are so many aspects of this book to love including cameos from famous friends and adoring family members, funny stories about what it's really like to work on SNL, the earth shattering devastation of divorce, the Improv scene in New York and Chicago, what it's like to work on Parks and Recreation, what it's like to be in love with your kids, and how sometimes you need to step way outside of your comfort zone to find comfort like when she went to Haiti and spent time working in an orphanage there.
Amy's book really showed me that she is a real person who loves to laugh, live, make others laugh, and be a powerful and bossy woman without making excuses, but apologizing when necessary. She loves many of the people who helped get her to where she is today, and in turn she has dedicated her life to help others succeed in comedy. I laughed (when she was explaining her drug use), I cried (when she recounted her trip to the Haitian orphanage), I was touched by her love for her boys (when she talked about their personalities and chasing the moon, I smiled the whole chapter), I was never bored while reading this (how could you be with so many insightful and funny anecdotes?), and it made me a fan of someone who I didn't really pay that much attention to before.
That sounds like a pretty great book to me.