Yes Please by Amy Poehler
So first off: this book is a re-read. Or a re-listen to be exact. Because Yes Please* is actually better when listened to. Amy Poehler writes as she talks, and when I first opened the actual book I found myself trying to read it in her voice, but it didn’t sound right. Now this might be because my English is nothing like Amy Poehler’s American-with-Boston-roots accent. My English is British trying to lose it’s Norwegian hard R’s. So maybe I’m the problem right?
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But it might also be that the book is just too personal to not have Amy Poehler read it directly into your ear. And I think that is the biggest reason why it moves me, and why I listen to it repeatedly. She makes me feel like she is talking directly to me. And she makes me want to tackle my own life and problems with the same patience and ability to laugh as Amy does.
“However, if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, “I’m just crying because of how wrong you are.”
Another thing you gain by listening to the audio book is the guests and seemingly improvised material. Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner and Amy’s parents all join her in reading parts of the book. To listen to it is like having a conversation with a really funny person you know, and the guests make that more apparent. When Mike Schur comes on to talk about Parks and Recreation in the chapter Lets Build a Park, they joke around and make fun of each other, but show a deep respect for each others work. The chapter is fun and light, but tinged with a sadness about currently wrapping up the seventh season. Amy Poehler shares about the cast and crew, Mike Schur shares about the process of writing the show and getting it on air. As a huge Parks and Recreation fan, I found this whole chapter delightful!
“Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.”
Amy Poehler is a boss at dropping truth bombs and advice, like the quote above. While not all the advice is something I would follow, it all seems to come from somewhere real and caring.
“A person’s tragedy does not make up their entire life. A story carves deep grooves into our brains each time we tell it. But we aren’t one story. We can change our stories.”
This sentiment really resonates with me, I’ve always believed that we create our own life stories, and that if you don’t like your story it’s possible to change it. Everyone deserves to be the main character in their own life and to tell their life story the way they want to. I think this is one of the reasons I love reading biographies, it’s interesting to read about a person’s life, but it’s even more interesting to look into the way they see their own life through what stories they choose to share. In that way Yes Please isn’t a deeply personal biography, it doesn’t reveal deep personal tragedies or delve into ‘shocking revelations’, but it is personal in the way Amy Poheler chooses to present her story, both in the stories she decides to tell and the ways she is happy to make fun of herself (and the ways she is not). And I love getting a glimpse into the mind of someone I love watching on screen. She shares about her work, her sons, her parents, but chooses to stay away from her recent split with Will Arnett, saying that it’s too sad and feel too personal.
“I have realized that mystery is what keeps people away, and I’ve grown tired of smoke and mirrors. I yearn for the clean, well-lighted place. So let’s peek behind the curtain and hail the others like us. The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around. This is the honest way I want to live and love and write.”
There are also a lot of funny tidbits about Amy’s time on Saturday Night Live. But my favorite part of the book is the story of when her son Archie was born. The due date is right after the night that Jon Hamm hosts SNL for the first time, and her story of how he shocked her out of a crying spell is great. Amy goes into labor the day of the show and misses it, and the story is made all the better from Seth Meyers writing about it in his chapter, and how that night was the first time he hosted Weekend Update by himself, something he would go on to do alone for a long time.
So has anyone else read this book, or listened to it like me? What did you think? Please share!