Book Review: “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler

A few good quotes:
“We should stop asking people in their twenties what they “want to do” and start asking them what they don’t want to do.”
“You tell people the good things. Diaries are for the bad things!”
“Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”
She joked that an SNL hairstylist once told her, she “had a great place for wigs.”

Great at improvisation and writing. “I was never too this or not enough that. Every week o SNL I had the opportunity to write whatever I wanted. And then I was allowed to read it!” “Writing gave me an incredible amount of power, and my currency became what I wrote and said and did.”

Her gynecologist died the day before she went into labor. How ironic. She did the Hillary Clinton vs. Sarah Palin SNL sketch and the Sarah Palin rap the week she gave birth.

A few inserts by her friends like Seth Meyers about the SNL sketch with Sarah Palin rap and her mother about her birth. Nice perspectives from other people.

Comedy is hard work. “Doing comedy for a living is, in a lot of ways, like a pony and camel trying to escape from the zoo. It’s a ridiculous endeavor and has a low probability of success, but more importantly, it way easier if you’re with a friend.

As a comedian, she occasionally went overboard and had to apologize like the case about a disabled girl. “A word about apologizing: It’s hard to do without digging yourself in deeper. It’s also scary and that’s why we avoid the pain. We want so badly to plead our case and tell our story. The bad news is that everybody has a story. Everyone has a version of how things went down and how they participated. It’s hard to untangle facts and feelings.” How true! “Every performer has to to figure out what feels right.”

About divorce, she quotes Louis CK “divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” She referenced a few of her favorite books about divorce. She didn’t talk much about her own divorce of her 10-year marriage though.

On aging, “fighting aging is like the war on Drugs. It’s expensive, does more harm than good, and has been proven to never end.” “Getting older makes you somewhat invisible.” – so you’re better observing a situation. “The moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more.” Learning from the “older friends”: “I am interested in people who swim in the deep end. I want to have conversations about real things with people who have experienced real things.” “Young people can remind us to take chances and be angry and stop our patterns. Old people can remind us to laugh more and get focused and make friends with our patterns.”

Taking improv lessons from Charna and Del Close. Met Tina Fey in the class and performed “Women of Color.” Did her work touring as Second City member across Texas and many town with low pay and Upright Citizens Brigade. “We were young and foolish and didn’t know what we were up against.” “Being foolish was the smartest thing to do.”

Amy had lots of imagination since childhood. Living in a normal, loving middle-class family, she needed to create her own drama like handcuffing herself with a friend at fourth grade.

She enjoyed reading “tragedy porn.” “I would read terrible stories to punish myself for my lucky life. Some real deep Irish Catholic shit.”

Amy was hired on Saturday Night Live in August, 2001, just a month before 9/11. She was forced to do comedy in a city that was “battered and still on fire… while avoiding being killed by Anthrax.”

About being a mother, Amy complained about people’s asking her, “I don’t know how you do it.” She heard “I don’t know how you COULD do it.” – making her feel guilty and overwhelmed. I never thought of it that way. She did disclose she’s got a full time nanny or “wife.”

On sex, she gave a few advises. I like #6, “get better at dirty talk.” and #11 Laugh a lot and try new things with someone you love.”

Awards or “pudding” were elusive to her in the beginning. I like her practical joke of organizing every nominee in the category to fake winning the award. Have fun anyway whether you win or not.

Amy has worked so far throughout her life including serving ice cream in a local parlor, waitressing. “How a person treats their waitress is a great indication of their character.” This was followed by doing gigs as a comedian before her career took off on SNL.

“Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.” “Good or bad, the reality is most people become “famous” or get “great jobs” after a very very long tenure shoveling shit.” The reality is that most career advancement is from referrals. “Try to care less. Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it. Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.” “Career is the stringing together of opportunities and jobs. Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t. Career is the thing that will not fill you and never make you whole.”

But distinguish it from creativity. “Creativity is connected to your passion, the light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. The small voice that tells you, ‘I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.'” She drew analogy of “creativity” to a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug.

“Ambivalence is the key to success.” Wow, that’s powerful and so true. “You have to care about how good you are and you good you feel, but not how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

She talked a lot about her role in “Park and Recreation” series and how it came about after the end of SNL career. Because of this book, I actually a few episodes on Netflix. She went a step further talking about the show business – the pros and cons of all the players: actor, writer, director, and producer. Nice insight.

She offers some tidbits about time travels (and she does in her own way), using drugs, her two boys and being a “moon junkie,” her charity involvement in WWO visiting orphanage, and ended the book on her love/hate relationship with the cell phone.

This is a good book to read if you like comedy and curious about how a comedian become success or you simply like the story of a hard working woman doing what she loves with great passion and creativity and succeeded in it. You’ll get some laughs too. Why not?!