Just in time to fill the Parks and Recreation–shaped hole in our lives comes Amy Poehler’s very own memoir: Yes Please. Actually, “memoir” is a bit of a misnomer for this Dey Street Books-published tome — as is “tell-all,” although the comedian does tell it all. Instead, Yes Please is a 329-page nonlinear hopscotch across Poehler’s life and career, from Chicago’s Second City and the creation of the Upright Citizens Brigade to the glory days of SNL and Parks and Rec. Here are nine of the dozens of things you’ll Poeh-learn.
1. The woman can drop life-lesson nuggets like a boss.
Yes Please is full of glossy two-page spreads of Poehler koans like “Other people are not medicine” and “Calling people ‘sweetheart’ makes most people enraged.” The book’s three sections are headlined “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like,” and “Be Whoever You Are.” But in the text itself, you never know when Amy’s going to drop some oh-so-underline-able knowledge like “If you can surf your life rather than plant your feet, you will be happier.” She’s chock full of pump-you-up sayings.
2. Poehler’s not shy about the pot she’s smoked or the sex she’s had.
She’s not shy about anything, really, despite saying, in her chapter on divorce, that she doesn’t “like people knowing my shit.” While there’s little info on her split with Will Arnett, there are entire chapters dedicated to sex (“I love it and I am here to say I am good at it”) and drugs (“I can’t perform, drive, or write stoned, and therefore I smoke pot a lot less than I used to”). She also says a few brief, sweet things about her new partner, Nick Kroll.
3. Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Louis C.K., and Mike Schur are the Poehler dream team.
Poehler is good at giving credit to the many talented performers and writers she’s worked with and befriended, but these four get more mentions than anyone. Meyers contributes a lovely chapter about the night Amy first gave birth. Fey (“my life partner”) gets her own chapter and an acrostic poem. C.K. (“my dear friend and relationship sponsor”) pops up frequently, often with timely wisdom. And Schur, the co-creator of Parks and Recreation, annotates Poehler’s long chapter about the show. (A few of his original script pages make it in, too.)
4. A lot of her funniest SNL memories seem to involve Will Forte.
Saturday Night Live’s loose atmosphere is legendary, but Forte sounds like he really ran with it. He writes naked at his desk, he smacks a long-awaited late-night dinner out of a colleague’s hands as soon as it’s delivered, and he and Amy doodle penises throughout a sexual harassment presentation. There’s tons of SNL behind-the-scenes gold in here, though: Antonio Banderas was the best-smelling host; John Goodman was Amy’s personal favorite guest; and longtime writer Paula Pell “was usually the funniest person in the room. Or Fred Armisen. Unless Baldwin was there.”
5. “How does she do it all?” By never sleeping, basically. Also: nannies!
Lots of working parents use nannies, but it’s not often your hear celebrities talk about it at length. Amy calls her current nanny her “wife,” and openly praises the three women who’ve helped take care of Archie and Abel, Poehler’s sons with Arnett. “They are wonderful teachers and caretakers and my children’s lives are richer because they are part of our family,” Poehler writes. She also says her secret to being so productive is being a “bad sleeper” from babyhood straight through age 43 — a concept that gets its own chapter.
6. Amy Poehler’s parents are amazing.
Eileen and Bill Poehler get much more than a token mention in Yes Please. Their supportive, stable presence pervades the entire book, including a section where they each contribute a written reflection on their daughter’s birth. In a chapter called “Parents Just Do Understand,” we get long lists of the many life lessons Amy learned from each one of them. Included: “have male friends,” “have more female friends,” and “girls can do anything boys can do.”
7. Amy Poehler has an immaculate Amy Poehler archive, and she’s happy to share.
There’s a scrapbook quality to Yes Please that both fills and breaks up the chapters. You get to enjoy a variety of old photos, a poem about death by 13-year-old Amy, a kindergarten report card, a two-page spread of Upright Citizens Brigade memorabilia, assorted email exchanges, a newspaper clipping featuring Amy as Dorothy in a school production of The Wizard of Oz, and a happy birthday letter from Hillary Clinton to baby Archie. There’s also a section with haikus about botox and plastic surgery. Sample: “Hey, shooting poison / In your face does not keep you / From turning 50.”
8. Amy used to live in Chris Farley’s old apartment in Chicago.
She also worked with him a little when he came back to drop in for Second City performances. “He was incredibly nice and painfully sensitive,” Poehler writes. “He would stand backstage and berate himself if he felt like he didn’t do a good job. It was almost like he couldn’t hear how loud everyone was laughing.” Sadly, that sounds about right.
9. And the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn could’ve told you Amy Poehler would be famous.
At Boston College, Poehler took a public speaking class with Finn. “I remember feeling like we both knew a secret,” Poehler writes. “We were going to keep performing no matter what, and we both were going to have no money, stability, or children for the next 10 years.” Bingo.