Monday, March 9, 2015

Review of Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I don’t read a lot of celebrity memoirs, because I generally don’t find celebrities all that interesting. I also chafe a bit when people write memoirs before they are old. (As a side note, when my kids were in fifth grade, they had to write memoirs.  Imagine an eleven-year-old writing, “Back when I was young…”).

That said, Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please, came pretty highly recommended, and I needed a good laugh this week. I figured that it would be something like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which I found funny and political. Those two women are certainly funny and political when they’re together.

The strange thing was that I don't think Poehler’s book is especially funny. But it isn't unpleasant either. In fact, what I appreciate most about it is her description of the creative life.  A good chunk of the first part of the book involves a discussion about how hard writing a book is. And a good chunk of the rest of it involves a discussion about what doing improv is like. If you’re wondering what’s involved in the artistic process of a comedy actor/writer, there’s something for you here.

I do think that there is a lot of filler. The parts about her childhood friends and even the parts about her own children distract a bit from the stories about her career, which are the heart of this project. I wonder if the framework of memoir made it so that she felt pressure to talk about all facets of her life, or if her editors pressured her to add in different kinds of life stories. I found myself wishing that the whole project were tighter.

But, ultimately, this book passed the time well.  It would be good for a plane ride or a lazy day by the pool. I wasn’t moved or changed by reading it, but I’m not sure that really matters in the end. It’s a celebrity memoir, after all.

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