Writing a book can be unpleasant. According to Amy Poehler, the act of writing is overly romanticized and is, in fact, quite difficult. It is not the struggle an audience would see in a movie: a struggling writer scratching their head and looking out the window on a rainy day. It is not the difficulty an audience would see of a writer, writing alone in a coffee shop sipping on tea swiftly typing away the idea long awaited for. These things do happen on occasion, so what is so romanticized about this picture? Ideas are not always perfect at first, they are messy and difficult. In her book Yes Please, Poehler points out, “Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is hard: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.” Though this may not be a universal truth for all writers, Poehler manages to take a certain glamour out of writing from the point of view of a celebrity and, therefore, creating a book with more human qualities.
By many standards, Amy Poehler’s life is glamorous: getting to do what she loves, working and learning from famous Hollywood names, and being on multiple successful television shows. In her book, though, she does not romanticize her life at all. She acknowledges the many wonderful opportunities she has been given and describes them in a very humble manner. In one excerpt she writes:
Archie [her son] was born Saturday, October 25, at 6:09 p.m, just about when we would have been getting ready to do our first run through for “weekend update”… I watched scenes that I had rehearsed hours before. I watched Maya and Kenan sing a song to me, and Seth tap my spot at the “Update” desk and tell me they loved me… I kissed Archie’s giant head, which was shaped like a beautiful balloon.
In wonderfully crafted excerpts such as this, Poehler is able to find a perfect balance in describing different parts of her life. She does not waste her time to “name drop,” because her goal is to humanize and invite the positive into her life.
In many ways, the book feels like a coming-of-age story (within many stories). Poehler has many stories of love, accomplishments, humorous guides to life, and mistakes. Within the book’s passages, she describes several of her many mistakes and actively reiterates her title Yes Please. “Yes Please” to the learned life lessons, “Yes Please” to feminism, and “Yes Please” in moving and learning new things. Amy Poehler is very fluently able to talk about tough times and how she overcame them without sounding didactic. There are elements of the book that are comical, touching, and inclusive; for example, the book offers a few blank decorative pages for the reader to write about their births. Elements like this help the reader feel like they are engaging in a dialogue about their own life.
One of the most notable aspects of Poehler’s book is that it is unapologetically honest. She talks about her divorce, her flawed coping mechanisms, and things everyone thinks about but no one really likes to talk about, like winning awards. Poehler refers to awards as pudding and how everyone wants the pudding. Comically, she interjects how she—at times—would really want the pudding even when resisting wanting the pudding.
Being human is not glamorous. Even celebrities are human and sometimes this fact is forgotten. There are glamorous moments, comical, and tragic not-so–glamorous moments. Being human is hard. It can be difficult, especially when it has been profusely romanticized by many in different forms. When there is open discussion about how perfect life always isn’t, then it becomes a little less scary and you realize all the crazy thoughts you had in your head (you know, the ones you thought only you had) are shared by other people. Poehler definitely manages to create a vivid and humanized space within her book.
Amy Poehler is a writer, actress, producer, and director. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles with her two boys. She hopes this book will get her invited onto her hero Judge Judy’s yacht, Triumphant Lady. (Bio from Yes Please).