Yes Please


The first audiobook I ever listened to was Tina Fey's "Bossypants" and I decided right then and there that no memoir or book written by a comedian should be read if you have the option to listen to them read it to you instead. I mean, it's like listening to 7 hours of standup from your favorite comedians. It's wonderful.

So obviously, when I heard Amy Poehler was coming out with "Yes Please," I actually rejoined Audible because of it. "Yes Please" is an eclectic collection of personal essays, humor essays, lists, haikus and advice. And contrary to what I expected, even though most of it is hilarious, there's some deep moments there too.

Amidst the sex jokes and the dirt (dirt galore!) on celebrities she's met and SNL guest hosts she's worked with, there are honest essays about being a mom, being a woman, about giving back and about being good to yourself. For instance, when Amy visits orphanages in Haiti in the post-horrendous earthquake landscape, she has these moments of realization that made me cry, want to adopt all the Haitian kids, join the Peace Corps and feel guilty about any of my first world problems, all at once. It's powerful stuff.

To my delight, the audiobook was not only read by Poehler, but had guest appearances and readings by Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, and Carol Burnett to name a few. There's also a live chapter read onstage to an audience at the UCB Los Angeles closing out the book. The guest appearances and live segment make "Yes Please" feel like the variety show of the audiobook world and for that it's well worth investing in instead of the hardcover version. The only complaint I would have about the difference in editions is that unlike other Audible audio books that come with a PDF of pictures from the printed copy, this came with none and that made me sad.

The nicest part of listening to "Yes Please" was learning how relatable Poehler is, as least for me. There's a lot about her New England suburban youth that rings true with my own. I, too, was the girl who couldn't sleep at sleepovers, I was the one in my backyard making up hero fantasies where I saved everyone. I also had no supervision when it came to what I watched on TV. I spent many nights eating ice cream in front of HBO, mostly being confused and sometimes scared about impending adulthood.

And there were more than a few shared teenage experiences as well. Growing up in my own sleepy blue collar drinking town, I am quite familiar with keggers in the woods and hating that I let people drive me while they were drunk. I worked in an froyo shop and hated teenage boys who came in 50 times in a row for the free samples, I sat in front of MTV every morning in the summer and before I got my first cell phone Junior year, I would plan to meet people at the mall and sometimes they just didn't show.

All of these things were things that Poehler covers in her book and I'm glad that I just missed the cutoff for knowing what the hell she was talking about. It makes nostalgic for the youth I had and simultaneously terrified for kids now who live in a world of cyberbullying and Snap Chat slut shaming.

But mostly, the woman Poehler is today makes me excited for what I hope is ahead of me. She's very fluid in her duality, something I've spent my whole life working on. She owns her blue collar white trash rage blackouts in the same breath that she owns quoting the Dalai Lama and self-help books. She hates how technology encroaches into every aspect of our lives and yet, is addicted to Apple products. She loves her success and fame and Hollywood, but would rather be at a dinner party with close friends in her backyard. She works hard and works hard at not feeling guilty or judgy about working while being an great mom. She's amazing.

And while I love Tina Fey, and I mean LOVE her, she was never that accessible to me from an aspirational perspective, even in "Bossypants." There was always a seriousness and a liberal elitism about her that I never could quite relate to. Because I now know that I had the same kind of childhood as Poehler, I could easily see myself having the kind of adulthood (minus the comedic genius, acting career, fame and billions of dollars).

But really? If I got even a little bit close, I would be proud about it.

2015 '50 Books' Progress: 1/50