Amy Poehler: Yes Please

May 03, 2015

After lot of scepticism I got into Parks & Rec game late. The first season managed to repulse me several times before I got through it and to something actually interesting and funny. And I love it. It’s just one of those shows I can watch over and over and it gets even better with each viewing. I came to love almost all of the characters (Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa leading the list of exceptions) and was sad to see it go off the air.

To help me cope with my sorrow, I got myself Amy Poehler’s autobiography Yes Please. The first thing I should mention is that I knew virtually nothing about Poehler except for being Leslie Knope and I was pretty happy with that. Like with most film/TV characters I don’t feel the need to learn about the actors. It’s not an iron clad rule in any way but generally, it satisfies me. Getting into Yes Please was unusual.

It’s an autobiography of a woman in the middle of her career. I haven’t read many biographies and probably not a single autobiography so my experience is very limited, but I got the impression that it’s a bad time to write an autobiography. She has just turned forty which means she (hopefully) has the same amount of time ahead of her. There’s no doubt some parts of her life described in the book will be in her next biography fifty years from now, but some will not. How to judge what to include and what not when there are so many blank pages left in her life?

The result is a strange mixture of humility (which an autobiographer doesn’t need in contrast with a biographer), factual documentation of Poehler’s life, probably some exaggeration of parts which some people (not me) might find interesting, highly censored personal diary and life lessons. My feeling was that she couldn’t decide what to write. Take it seriously, be funny, stick to the facts, include hopes for the future, try to be honest and relatable or something else? On one hand, she could actually be such an indecisive, confusing person but would she have had such a career? Maybe, she’s just a bad writer and gave in to the pressure from others to write a book about herself. In that case, I wasted my time and money reading it. Possibly, it was her intention, the book reflects her perfectly and I just came to like one facet of her personality projected in Parks & Rec. Of course, I might just be strange.

There are funny bits and bits about funny things in Yes Please as well, probably the best is the first chapter. People who are interested in american late night TV, sketch comedy, improv or showbusiness in general probably find most of the book interesting. If you are like me, watch Parks & Rec and skip the book.