Remember, the talking about the thing isn’t the thing. The doing of the thing is the thing.
Despite being quite engaged with pop culture, I’m usually not interested in celebrity memoirs, so the fact that I immediately wanted to read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please should give you a clue as to how much I admire her. I have been known to express the controversial opinion that I like her better than Tina Fey. However, that may be a side effect of liking Parks and Recreation better than 30 Rock. And really, I’m sure these ladies wouldn’t approve of pitting them against each other because they are all about the love.
Yes Please was not what I expected. To put it bluntly, I thought the book would be funnier. Instead her stories and advice are mostly in earnest, more clever than funny. That isn’t a bad thing by any means, but it required an adjustment to how I approached the book. As a physical object, Yes Please is beautiful. The paper is all photo-quality, which makes it heavier than the average hardcover but allows for color photographs throughout the text. Totally worth the extra weight in my opinion. It also allows for the reproduction of other mementos like the letter that Hillary Clinton wrote to Amy’s oldest son upon his birth.
Each of the book’s three sections opens with an autobiographical chapter about the progression of Amy’s comedy career. The in-between chapters are fairly random stories and essays. Although this loose organization usually works fine, there are a few editorial choices with which I take issue. The preface is all about how writing is hard, effectively bringing the momentum to a screeching halt. Similarly, the conclusion is titled “The Robots Will Kill Us All.” The preface made me feel self-conscious on her behalf, which is just unnecessary given her talent, and the conclusion threatened to negate the wit and wisdom of the preceding chapters with its existential angst.
Yes Please really kicked into gear for me during the chapter about giving birth to her first child. It’s a crazy story that involves Saturday Night Live rehearsals, Jon Hamm, and that rap about Sarah Palin. (Man, the 2008 election was a gold mine for political satire. But I digress.) This chapter contains the ideal combination of wise commentary on the female experience and the rather extraordinary circumstances of Amy’s particular experience. When Yes Please is at its best, it keeps both of these elements in balance.
Anyone who has run across a few Poehler quotes online knows that she has a knack for articulating what it’s like to be a woman. I get excited whenever I see positive women in the world because I feel strongly that young women (and all women) need and deserve as many awesome role models as we can get. Reading her book made me feel creatively energized, which is how we should feel when we see another woman killing it at what she does. I love the quote at the top of this post, both for its awkward wording and just being really solid advice. Talking about what we’re going to do is so much easier than actually doing it, but talking about it doesn’t count.
Well, I wrote this post, which is “doing the thing.” Now on to the next thing. I encourage fans of Amy Poehler or kickass ladies in general to pick up Yes Please. Let’s get inspired.