Saturday Night Live and Parks & Rec star Amy Poehler delivers a stunning book debut with her memoir, Yes Please. Given that I’ve occasionally watched the first and never watched the second, I’m not sure why I requested a copy of the book- but I’m glad I did. With charm, transparency, humor, and grit, Poehler talks about her childhood, her rise in the improv ranks, breaking in to SNL, her other TV ventures, marriage, dating, and parenthood. It’s a whirlwind like she’s actually speaking to us, but it shows plenty of insight into her world… and into ours.
The majority of the book is a blast (even for a non-SNL fan) but a few thoughts rose above the rest and caught my attention.
“I’m interested by people who swim in the deep end.” This one seems so obvious, and yet, it’s brilliant. My best friends (Poehler talks about friends-post-forty) are the ones who aren’t treading water with their feet grazing the bottom; they’re the ones who dive in (sometimes without looking) and tackle situations other people don’t want to, often helping people others consider too dangerous or too unnecessary.
“It’s easier to be brave when you’re not alone.” Half the time, the thing causing you to feel the need to be brave isn’t really scary- and the other person can point that out to you. The other half of the time, you know it’s really scary, but the person with you works with you to overcome your mutual fear!
“Short people do not like to be picked up.” Okay, so it’s not deep, but it’s true- my pint sized sister, who reminds me of Poehler, can’t stand it.
“Nobody looks stupid when they’re having fun.” Seriously, have you ever pulled up next to someone who is rocking out at a stoplight? If they’re really into it, when they notice you, the grin and go back to it. That’s different from the average desperate dancer who you see at a wedding or a party who doesn’t really want to be there, recognizes they do look stupid, and sits out the rest of the party.
“Your career will never marry you.” Amen. That one is almost worth the price of admission, no? Too often we’re overcommitted to work and underperforming at home, failing to be who we’re supposed to be as spouses and parents. Poehler has seen the best and the worst of her career so far, and she urges us not to make the same mistakes.
But my favorite story involves Spike Jonze, Chris Cooper and his wife, Marianne, and a young disabled woman named Anastasia Somoza. It’s absolutely worth the price of this book as it will teach you about making mistakes, accountability, and forgiveness. In a word: amazing.
If you’re going to read one memoir this year, read this one.