Madeline's Reviews > Yes Please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
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it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir

This is not a comedy book.

I mean, it's funny. Amy Poehler can't write a book and not be funny, because she's Amy fuckin' Poehler. But (and this is not the first time I'm going to compare the two memoirs) where Tina Fey's Bossypants contained humorous essays written specifically for the purpose of being funny, Poehler's does not. Everything is presented in a straightforward, matter-of-fact, fashion, and although a lot of the book is very, very funny, it never seems like this was the specific goal behind the essays.

This is also not a book about comedy.

Although Amy Poehler discusses her time on improv groups in Chicago and New York, Saturday Night Live, and Parks and Recreation, she never gets more in-depth than "then we moved to New York and started working at this theater." Her time on SNL is reduced to a chapter of brief (but fantastic) anecdotes. Amy Poehler is renowned for her ability to play vastly different characters - somewhere on the internet is a photo gallery of all her Second City characters - but she never discusses what goes into each character. The closest we get is this description of her preparing her Hillary Clinton imitation and finally getting a bead on the character by playing her as someone who is tired of always being the smartest person in the room.

Okay, so it's not a comedy book, and it's not a book about comedy, and it's really not even much of a memoir - Poehler does not discuss her divorce because "it is too sad and too personal. I also don't like people knowing my shit." So what, exactly, is Yes Please?

It feels weird to classify this book as a self-help book. But that's what I got out of it. Maybe your experience with Poehler's book will be different, but as I was reading it, the parts that left the greatest impressions on me are the ones where she is demonstrating how to be a good person. The title itself references this - Poehler spends some time discussing how the improv rule of always replying with "yes, and..." is also a good rule for life, and how she tacks "please" onto that because Amy Poehler is truly, genuinely, wonderfully nice, and that's always refreshing. But lest you think she's some kind of pushover, rest assured that Amy Poehler is also a badass who gets what she wants, and if you pay attention, she can teach you how to do that:

"When someone is being rude, abusing their power, or not respecting you, just call them out in a really obvious way. Say, 'I can't understand why you are being rude because you are the concierge and this is the part of the evening where the concierge helps me.' Act like they are an actor who has forgotten what part they are playing. It brings the attention back to them and gives you a minute to calm down so you don't do something silly like burst into tears or break their stupid fucking glasses."

She also teaches you how to be good at what you do, in a very good essay called "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend":

"Now, before I extend this metaphor, let me make a distinction between career and creativity. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, 'I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.' That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend.
...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."

I don't want to imply that this is all heavy, here's-how-to-be-a-successful-person stuff. There's lightness in this book, and like I said, it's funny and fluffy, but there's a solid gold center deep within this seemingly light read that makes it stand out from other comedy memoirs I've read. I treated this book as a manual on how to become Amy Poehler, and there are worse things we could be.

Have I mentioned that Amy Poehler is nice? She's so nice. She does the same thing Tina Fey did in her book where she lists a lot of the people who work on her TV show with her and it's basically an excuse for her to gush over how much she likes the people she works with (she calls Aubrey Plaze "a big-hearted warrior"). She spends a long chapter talking about her sons and how much she loves them. Tiny Fey's book featured a chapter called "We Don't Care if You Like It (One in a Series of Love Letters to Amy Poehler)." Amy Poehler's book returns the favor by including an acrostic poem about Tina Fey, which might seem disingenuous, but it's clear on every page how much these two great people love each other:

"Sometimes Tina is like a very talented bungee-jumping expert. All it takes is for Tina to softly say, 'We can do this, right?' and I suddenly feel like I can jump off a bridge."

I don't know how you guys reacted to that line, but when I read it I had to put the book down and immediately send a text to my best friend telling her I loved her. That's the effect Amy Poehler's book had on me: it taught me how to do what I wanted, how to feel good about myself, how to deal with whatever terrible things life throws at you, and it reminded me to be kind.

And it's pretty fucking funny, so there's that.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 19, 2014 – Shelved
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: memoir

Comments Showing 1-50 of 102 (102 new)


message 1: by jo (new)

jo this is a fantastic review.


Madeline Thank you! I finished reading this about two weeks ago, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to say.


April Cote I love your review. All other reviews I have read just go on and on about how she didn't give enough about her life or didn't make there sides split with laughter at every page, and that it just didn't seem that she showed her true self in the book. First, she doesn't owe any of us anything personal about her life. It's hers to keep as private as she fucking wants, and no one should ever complain about that. I'm glad to hear that she didn't tell a joke in every page. And to me, it sounds like she was giving her fans a piece of her true self, and we should be glad she did.
Also, that awesome cover; it's wicked. When I saw that it was called Yes Please, I silently squealed because it's what I always say to someone when a please is required. I absolutely can't wait to read this. It's been sitting on my book shelf for a couple weeks now. I am not putting it off, just saving it because I know I'll love it. Thank you for giving the review you did. Makes me that much more excited to read the words of one funny, kick ass, lovely woman.


April Cote *THEIR sides split. GOD DAMN do I HATE when I don't catch auto correct mistakes!!!


Madeline All other reviews I have read just go on and on about how she didn't give enough about her life or didn't make there sides split with laughter at every page, and that it just didn't seem that she showed her true self in the book.

It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. The book strikes an almost philosophical tone more often than not, and I think a lot of readers found this off-putting. I went into this book with a lot of preconceived ideas about what it would contain, and I was able to adjust my expectations and enjoy it - others might not have had the same experience, which I totally understand.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review! I've been on the fence about this book since it came out. Now I have to read it. Thanks!!!


message 7: by Victoria (new) - added it

Victoria I actually want to read it more- I was expecting another Bossypants. That's not to diminish it but i didn't want to read the same book again. This makes me feel that it it's perfectly Amy- there's a reason so many people love her.


Matthew Bellwoar thanks! Can't wait to read it.


message 9: by Sue (new)

Sue OK I want to read it now. You should get a commission.


brianna hillard mclean Ok I'm not going to make fun of you


Madeline Um...thanks?


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

This is exactly what I think about this book. Awesome review.


Karrie awesome review madeline


message 14: by Lucy (new)

Lucy I really love your review's . You wright so much compared to others.


message 15: by Lucy (new)

Lucy reading it


Michelle Ham Great review. I'm listening to the audiobook and love it so far. It's like listening to a really awesome friend chat away...


Tiana Noterman yeah i love all of your reviews!


Tiana Noterman can you read it for free i really want to read it!!!!!!


Madeline Try a library.


brianna philius This is a nice book i read and i finished it about a week ago


message 21: by Ernestina Saner (new)

Ernestina Saner I LOVE YOUR STORY


message 22: by Ernestina Saner (new)

Ernestina Saner I'm going to get the best results from the best way to get


Lindi Great review. Now I really want to read it! Thanks!


Karen N. Just got the book! Your review makes me even more excited to read Amy Poehler's book.


Nikki Boisture This is my favorite review of this book!


Diane Sullivan Outstanding review


message 27: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara I felt exactly the same way. It's like I wrote this review... Crazy. Great job!


Madeline I'm glad to hear that so many people agree with me! Looking over the other reviews, it seems like a lot of people were disappointed with the book. Which I get - it's sort of disjointed, and it's not the laff riot everyone was expecting. But on the other hand...Poehler.


Kassi Welch Fantastic review! I completely agree with what you... Especially the last bit, I was almost in tears because it was so touching. Everybody should strive to be more like Amy, the world would be a better place.


oghenetega Ibrahim Wow! I really really love this


Chantal Meza Great review


Alicia Ross You totally captured my sentiment. Thanks


Jessie This is really great. This book wasn't what I expected, but was what I needed in the moment, which was refreshing.


Diane Cook I really enjoyed this book and your review captured my same thoughts. Thanks for posting.


Vicki I just finished it I thought it was MUCH better than Tina Fey's book. Loved your review


Kellie Buelo Spot on review. I loved this book and felt the same; it isn't what I expected. And actually I was disappointed at first with the lack of laugh-out-loud moments until I got over my expectations and fell into the rhythm of the book. I love the direction she took with it.


Madeline It's definitely an adjustment, especially after Bossy Pants, and like you, I had to read a few chapters before I started to understand what Poehler was trying to do with her book.


message 38: by Kay (new)

Kay Smith Loved this! I just read Mindy Kahling's book not too long ago, and was looking for another fun one: I'll consider Amy's for sure!


Sarah FitzGerald This is an excellent review, thank you! A friend gave me this book and I flipped through it, reading in no particular order and enjoyed the parts I read very much. It is on my list of books to read and now I am bumping it up a few spots!


Trinity Higgins Yes we that she is fuck'in Amy poehler we can read


Danielle This is a fantastic review.


scissorstoariadne Beautiful review!


message 43: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali Your review encompasses how i felt reading it his book.


message 44: by Cat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat I agree with what almost everyone said about your review - spot on. I'm only about 2/3 of the way through, but there have been so many aha moments already. And whether or not you've already read it, I highly recommend the audio version. Amy reads it and has special guest readers scattered throughout. Amazing. I love her voice - literally and figuratively!


Barbara Such an amazing review. I just bought the book and can't wait to read it!!!


Barbara Such an amazing review. I just bought the book and can't wait to read it!!!


Barbara Such an amazing review. I just bought the book and can't wait to read it!!!


Madeline Try to go into it with as few pre-conceived ideas as possible - it took me a few chapters to get past the idea that this wasn't a comedy-for-the-sake-of-comedy book, but something deeper. Just sit back and let Poehler take the wheel.


jean mac millan I always say please


message 50: by Coryann (new)

Coryann hey Madeline.....I like your face :) but seriously i'm new to this. How does one send a message? Or join a community for that matter?


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