Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Published October 28, 2014 by Dey Street Books

Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy's one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is "Yes Please!" then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," "Plain Girl Versus the Demon" and "The Robots Will Kill Us All" Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

I like Amy Poehler. I like that she is unapologetic about her ambition and work ethic, and I appreciate that she acknowledges that competition between women can be healthy and push us to achieve more, but she also isn't about pitting women against each other. I appreciate her honesty, her vulnerability, and her willingness to admit mistakes and speak hard truths. There is a lot to like about this book—the highlights in my Kindle ended up filling 9 pages.

Some favorite highlights:
"So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready."
"It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please."
"That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me."
"This essay is about apologies, and I have learned an important part of apologizing is not making excuses." 
"Anger and embarrassment are often neighbors. Sometimes we get defensive about what we feel guilty about." 
"Let’s end by pointing out all the positive ways you can scare yourself and feel alive. You can tell someone you love them first. You can try to speak only the truth for a whole week."
"Either way, we both agreed that ambivalence is key to success. I will say it again. Ambivalence is key. You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look."
"Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’m proud that Mike Schur and I rejected the idea that creativity needs to come from chaos. I like how we ran our writers’ room and our set. People had a great time when they came to work on our show and that mattered to us."
"Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being."
"Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how “bossy” can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader."
Clearly, there are many great observations in this book, and many of her words are especially inspiring at this point in time with current political and social issues. Unfortunately, I found it hard to get engaged in her book. This was a book that I easily read a chapter at a time, instead of devouring like I usually do. Perhaps this is because I've never watched Parks & Recreation, and am unfamiliar with the Upright Citizens Brigade. It's hard to get really engaged when much of the narrative is about media that I'm unfamiliar with. In contrast, I recall Bossypants by Tina Fey to be easier to read, and laugh-out-loud funny, while Yes Please was more of a "yes, that is what the world is like!"

Rating: 3 Stars

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