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If you’re feeling bereft over the finale of Parks and Recreation, don’t despair: you can still get your Poehler fix. Yes Please is the ferociously funny comedian’s memoir, although perhaps the term “scrapbook” is a more accurate description.
Poehler shares stories from her childhood, her early days in comedy, her escapades on Saturday Night Live and her time playing everyone’s favourite fictional small-town government employee, Leslie Knope. Anecdotes are mingled with pictures, poems, lists, and life advice in haiku form (“A facelift does not/ Make daughters comfortable/ When you chaperone”). This is not a bare-all celebrity memoir, and Poehler stays away from any major revelations about her personal life, but the chapter about her two young sons and her time visiting orphanages in Haiti is candid and beautiful.
Going in to this book I was expecting another Bossypants, the memoir written by Poehler’s friend and “comedy wife” Tina Fey. Both women have helmed successful TV shows and have proven, without a doubt, that comedy is not an old boys’ club. Despite this, the similarities between their books are scarce. While Fey tended towards the self-deprecating in a way that I couldn’t help but laugh along with, Amy has gone for the inspirational, self-help angle. Yes Please is split into three parts: “Say whatever you want”, “Do whatever you like”, and “Be whoever you are”. Little bits of wisdom are dropped throughout, in bold letters on a double page spread: Everybody is scared most of the time; Calling people sweetheart makes most people enraged; Short people do not like to be picked up (my personal favourite).
For those familiar with her web series Smart Girls at the Party, where she interviews inspiring and successful women, and Ask Amy, where she fields questions from viewers in a cool-aunt kind of way, this won’t seem out of left-field; but for the uninitiated it might seem twee. I don’t doubt her sincerity; her dedication to empowering young women and providing viable role models for them is admirable and something that we only need more of.
While it didn’t provide as many belly laughs as I had been hoping for, I came away from reading Yes Please with an increased admiration for somebody who had already firmly earned themselves a place on my cool-lady index. This is the perfect companion for the Amy Poehler fan.