Lucia Vazquez Bonome reviews ‘Yes Please’, and tells us why it’s ok that Amy Poehler is not the Dalai Lama…
Amy Poehler is an American actress, voice artist, writer, producer and director best known for her role as Leslie Knope in the TV show “Parks and Recreation”. She’s been working as a comedian since the late 90’s, first on “Saturday Night Live” and then in different TV shows such as “Arrested Development” and “The Mighty B”. Nominated for different awards for her charismatic interpretation of different characters, she has also won a Golden Globe, and is well known in Hollywood as part of the humourous tandem formed by herself and her “partner in crime”, Tina Fey. Both of them have hosted the Golden Globes for the past 3 years and they are famous for their acid humor and witty comments.
Recently, Poehler published her own memoir, “Yes Please”: a book full of anecdotes, memories and ideas that’ll brighten up your day. The book is divided into three parts: “Part 1: Say Whatever You Want”, “Part 2: Do Whatever You Like” and “Part 3: Be Whoever You Like”.
In the first part, Poehler reveals her humble origins. She was born in a suburban area of Boston, where she fell in love with performance as soon as she got the part of Dorothy in the “The Wizard of Oz”. She knew she was going to do something different when she decided to improvise on the opening night. In the second part of the book, Poehler goes on to tell us how she pursued her dreams of becoming an actress and how she struggled working as a waitress while she was trying to make a name for herself in the comedy world in Chicago. In the third part of the book, Amy tells you to treat your career as a bad boyfriend: just give it the right amount of time and not a lot of importance. You should take care of other things in your life – more important things, in fact: children, family, love, friends… This is when your career will chase you and not the other way round.
From tough beginnings to her role as an actress/writer/host of “Saturday Night Live”, Poehler relays all her experiences during that time and gives anecdotes about famous people, dropping in the names of these people as if she was just talking about a neighbour or someone completely unknown. She is not the kind of person who’s going to spend ten chapters of her book talking about the fantastic Hollywood life. That’s not her style and, honestly, the book is all the better for this (and part of why she is so likeable).
[Image courtesy of snl.wikia.com]
The book has lots of funny and colourful pictures that are displayed as if glued on a wall with sellotape, and full of inspirational quotes like “forget the facts and remember the feelings” and “like who likes you” (one of my personal favourites, for the record). There are also personal letters to Poehler written by friend Seth Rogers as well as Hillary Clinton (pretty exciting). She explains how she dealt with being pregnant with her first child during a season of “Saturday Night Live”, and she also writes an open letter giving instructions to hospital staff on how they can help future mothers to make birth a pleasant and not so stressful experience. She talks about her professional life, her personal life and the things that matter to her: her family, especially her sons, their little routines and rituals they have (like ‘chasing the moon’, I think that one is really great).
There is one thing that I really want to emphasize: this book is about women supporting each other and caring about each other. She explains how there’s a demon who lives inside all of us (especially women) that tells us how horrible we look and will wait patiently for the right moment to attack you and make you feel unsure about yourself. Poehler says you just have to live with it, confront it and don’t think about it too much as that’s what the demon wants. She praises other women incessantly in this book. She is not afraid of showing her endless love for her mother, she talks about her dearest friend Tina Fey with words of praise and admiration, always proud and respectful of her friends. We should learn from this, as society is often trying to turn women against each other.
In my opinion, Poehler’s reason for writing this book wasn’t just for publicity. She is telling us life lessons, some of which we already know: be kind, work hard, love with passion and follow your dreams.
Poehler is not the Dalai Lama; she’s not going to give you a lesson that’s going to change your life. She’s here to tell you things will be ok and you shouldn’t worry too much, but you should (and must) laugh because life’s too short to not live it or enjoy it.
Lucía Vázquez Bonome
‘Yes Please’ is available now on Amazon
Read more about Amy Poehler on IMDB