Monday, September 28, 2015

Light Laughs With And About Amy Poehler

Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An autobio from a funny lady I admire? Yes, please!

Of course I want to learn more about a woman who's made me laugh for a good long while. For a stretch of time there, Amy Poehler was the only funny thing SNL had going for it and then she created one of the more endearing characters in television on her hit show Parks & Rec. How can you not love a confident woman who makes you laugh?

Many have not loved her book, Yes Please. I blame the reader and high expectations. For one, readers, you shouldn't read a comedian's memoirs, you should listen to them via audiobook. Performance is their thing, so why would you think they'd translate perfectly through the written medium? Secondly, the high expectations of a book put out by a comedian on the top of their game leads the readers into thinking that whatever this person touches will turn to gold. Not always true, especially if said comedian didn't want to write the book in the first place.

...And Poehler definitely didn't want to write this book. In fact, she spends too much damn time at the beginning telling the reader how much she didn't want to write this book. That is a bad beginning. I'm often wary of memoirs that go meta. It tells me that the author is straining for things to write about and it also chimes a dissonant tone. Who wants to be involved in anything with an unwilling participant?

Once the rocky intro is out of the way, Yes Please gets down to the good stuff. Poehler gives her fans a smattering of her life's story, even divulging her occasional naughtiness. She's a middle class white girl from the New England 'burbs...very little drama there, but at least she's willing to dish a little dirt on herself, what little there seems to be. Honestly I don't read this for "the dirt". I'm more interested in their success story arc and how it all happened. Inevitably it comes down to hard work, but no matter how many times I read that, I find it reassuring.

I think that this is not a beginning to end tale of her life from birth to present has annoyed a few people. I didn't have a problem with that. I do however agree with the detractors who complain that the book goes off the rails once too often. For instance, long lists of not-so-funny alternative character names and the like could have been dispensed with. I would also add that not all of the celebrities called upon to contribute little bits and blurbs through out the audiobook were successful. My hero Carol Burnett, for instance, sounded sad and tired.

Still, I maintain that the audiobook is the best way to enjoy this. There's plenty of laughs that I just can't imagine being had without hearing them.

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