In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by.
I love Amy Poehler. To me, Parks and Rec (after a tepid first season) is one of the funniest shows in the past decade and there is no one who can hammer out deadpan delivery after deadpan delivery with as great comedic timing as she can. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that translates well to paper.
Yes, Please isn’t a comedy book (or so I’ve heard). It contains several essays she’s written but they are meant to be, at least the way I read it, more personal and less laugh-targeting. I’ve seen other reviewers mention that despite that, they still managed to split a few sides because it’s Amy after all but there were very few moments when I actually even cracked a smile (and I’ve been known to smile…at nothing). The writing itself isn’t too bad. It’s breezy, simple and makes for a fast, if not terribly engaging read. It’s just that it feels disjointed and just not that funny (which, let’s be honest, is the one thing 99% of the people who got this book were looking for).
The sequencing and choice of essays isn’t great too. Other memoirs do, of course, also jump around events but Poehler doesn’t seem to have any specific purpose in doing so here. She skips around the timeline indiscriminately, making for a confusing read. Plus, there isn’t much actual content on the aspects you’d think she’d focus on, like SNL or Parks and Rec. Instead, she spends a lot of time recollecting random childhood memories or, oddly, talking about the process of writing this book.
I listened to the audio version and, while I’ve mentioned that other middling memoirs like Bossypants were greatly enhanced by the author narrations, here it doesn’t seem to help. Amy has a ton of guest speakers (including her parents) and she does read everything in that droll fashion of hers. It’s just that a deadpan delivery cannot save the material if there’s nothing to actually deliver.
This was a greatly disappointing read/listen, especially coming on the heels of other fantastic comedienne narrations. Yes, Please? No, thanks.