Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

There are moments in this book that Poehler infuses with such reflection, honesty, and humor that it is impossible not to love it. Descriptions of family and friends, of her early life in comedy are some of the best. It is clear that she is a comedienne through and through--everything in her life, including the pain of losing a childhood friend's mother to cancer, is seen through the filter of her humanity and comic genius. In some places these reflections fall flat.

It felt to me that she isn't fully comfortable in the spotlight. Her descriptions of the set of Parks and Recreation seem to be included simply to meet the expectation that they will be. It's such a cursory treatment, that I wished she had omitted it entirely. The chapter in which is discusses her resentment of those trying to take what she views as shortcuts to enter "the business" felt forced and preachy. It was ungracious to jump on someone who dropped a screenplay on her lap on a commute (it is beyond obvious that this person was rude and disrespectful). I didn't need her to tell me that she worked hard to achieve her level of success--she showed that beautifully in other places in the book. This treatment simply made her seem out of touch with those who haven't made it.

The only thing about the book that I found unforgivable, however, was her seeming distaste for the task. She calls herself on it in the preface. But that honest reflection did not warm me to the moments she felt the need to point out that "writing a book is hard" or is "no fun." Again, this is something I already know, and perhaps I'm a reading snob, but I believe writing is like figure skating: those who do it best make it look easy. Every time she mentioned this, it pulled me up short and diminished the fun I was having reading the work.

The book was disorganized and jumpy, almost to the point that I wanted to pull out my red pencil. After a little while though, I realized that quality added to the fact that the book is a great representation of the human who wrote it: silly, scattered, energetic, and flawed. While there are parts that are dull, forced, or cringe-worthy, it is clear that Poehler's approach to life requires that she include them. Like any good improv actor, she can leave nothing on the table.

1 comment:

Dani said...

Y'all, I was lazy on this review. I forgot that I wrote the draft and didn't include much in the way of quotations. Then I gave the book away. Womp womp.