I was surprised at how much I liked this one. I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and while that was entertaining and funny, I felt it was a little on the light side. I’ve always preferred Tina somehow, probably because she I heard of her first (and I didn’t watch SNL then, unlike now). Patently unfair, but what can you do? Sometimes the first you’ve heard of something attaches itself to your psyche so strongly it becomes difficult to dislodge (e.g. the first book/movie/song you ever loved).
Listening to this, Poehler polevaults herself to first place (ok not really, but co-first place with Fey). She comes across as warm and tender, genuine, reflective and of course, funny. I loved the parts when she talks about her marriage/divorce, relationships, her two boys (I loved this the best – as a parent I know what she means here) and the virtue of hardwork and constantly trying. It resonated with me, that she’s just another person, albeit an extremely lucky one. But somehow you feel she deserved it in the end, because this wasn’t unearned. I loved the life lessons her parents impart. It’s largely a more personal, more emotional book compared to Bossypants.
I wanted to also point out about the parts where she complains about the process of writing this book. This whiny section would probably put some people off, but having aspirations to write myself, I find this chapter amusing, inspiring and motivating. I appreciated her sharing the difficulties in embarking on this, and the fact that I’m reading the finished product means I should really get cracking. I really liked this part.
Structurally not too different from Bossypants. Origin story, life growing up, life before becoming famous, traveling around in improv groups, stories while performing, being in SNL, life after SNL in their respective TV shows, their personal lives, juggling work and children, shoutout to important/influential figures in their lives, general life lessons, plenty of jokes and laughs, etc. But I think Yes Please benefits from coming after.
If it wasn’t obvious before, I listened to both Fey’s and this book as audiobooks. Make no mistake, this is a performance piece, meant to be heard than read. Of course, I’d imagine reading this isn’t too bad either, but Poehler roped in people like Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, Seth Meyers to read her book. She even had her parents chime in. The last chapter was a recording of a live reading somewhere, and the delivery and the subsequent reaction from the crowd was wonderful to hear.
Therefore, as a book, and an audiobook, Yes Please is a better read (or listen. I’m having a disagreement with a friend on the difference. Although in this and several other instances, listen is probably more correct, since the audiobook offers a little more than the book in terms of banter between guest readers and audience response).
I dislike celebrity, as in celebrity news, who is with whom, the spates, the dramas – all these don’t interest me. Much less a memoir! I picked up Fey and Poehler’s books partly because I really like them and admire them as comedians and hope the books would be funny. I had read David Sedaris’s Naked (excellent!) and Jon Stewart’s Naked Pictures of Famous People (damn, is there a trend here?), so it’s not my first book from celebrity comedians. I also had the hope that Fey’s and Poehler’s would offer close up views of their world of showbiz, especially those of SNL. There’s unfortunately no dirt, but it was certainly fun and funny.