If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’ve recently ventured into new territory with audiobooks. It’s been a pleasant experience, so I listened to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please while making my nine-hour drive from North Carolina to Indiana. While I liked Lena Dunham’s reading of her book, Not That Kind of Girl, I LOVED Amy’s book (yes, we’re also on a first name basis).
Amy reads like she acts — full of inflection, funny jokes and hilarious impersonations.
Interspersed through the book are little guest snippets, vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy's parents. They add funny little asides, interesting angles, and a charming banter that makes the audiobook unique.
I’ll compare it to Lena’s book only because I listened to it recently too, and I can say that the difference is drastically different. Not only is the audiobook more engaging, with Amy speaking directly to the listener and adding side notes and jokes that aren’t in the written version, but Amy herself also has a richer story to tell.
The book weaves through Amy’s experiences as a young girl growing up in a small blue-collar Massachusetts town to her rise through the ranks of comedy. She vividly depicts her time in Chicago after attending Boston College, from her apartment on the “scary” side of the city to the joy of performing at IO Improv Theater (those of you from Chicago will know it!).
A young Seth Meyers interjects with a story about his first time meeting Amy; he was studying at Northwestern (shout out to my alma mater!) and attended an IO show. Incidentally he was called from the audience to the stage, and performed briefly with Amy. She didn’t remember the incident, but years later they would meet again on SNL, become friends, and perform together on the show’s Weekend Update.
Likewise, Amy met Tina Fey, Steve Carrel, Stephen Colbert, and many more during her time at IO, Second City, and eventually Upright Citizens Brigade. As a comedy fangirl, I found this incredibly exciting — imagining all the greats learning together in a theater that I frequented as a college student.
Perhaps what's most enjoyable about the book is Amy’s warm voice, determination, and honesty. She doesn’t care to tell lewd jokes or make fun of anyone else, and admits so. What she loves most about comedy and fame is the joy of making people laugh, the fun of coming up with “bits” to ease the intensity of award shows, and the friends she’s made along the way.
Her stories are littered with loving asides to these friends, and to her family. She describes her ex-husband, Will Arnett, with kindness and deep pride for their ability to do the best for their kids.
Hearing about her experiences as a girl with a desire for adventure (sometimes morbid adventure) grants a peek into the type of person Amy is off-screen: eager, patient, willing to take risks and genuine. She describes the combination of luck and hard work that led to her success in a self-deprecating, and often surprised way, admitting that while she always aspired to be where she is, it is sometimes hard to believe that she is finally there.
Interspersed with her insights about making it in the comedy world, are pieces of wisdom on love, parenting, marriage, apology, aging and treating other women with respect and kindness. She describes her experiences of childbirth, postpartum depression, and upbringing with sincerity and deep understanding.
Perhaps my favorite essay is the one about apology. She describes a sketch from SNL that poked fun at Dakota Fanning, but simultaneously and inadvertently mocked two disabled young women and film about their life. After receiving a letter admonishing her for the sketch, she became angry, and spent five years contemplating her shame and sorrow without ever making an apology. Her apology eventually came, with coaxing and a little help from none other than Spike Jonze. The essay is moving, full of consideration and gentle recognition of her mistakes. She offers sound advice, and thoughtful reflections on the nature of apology.
As a whole, the book is funny and relatable. Somehow, in a few chapters, Amy creates a deep thread of funny and simultaneously serious reflection. By sharing her challenges on a long road to success, she proves that patience, perseverance, and good people all make it possible to reach your dreams, no matter how big they may seem.
This egg soufflé is light, fluffy, and somehow amazingly filling, much like Yes Please, which delves into the funny, the famous, and the meaningful with ease.
Makes: One large ramekin
- 2 to 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 4 to 5 spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese
- ½ tomato
- 1 puff pastry sheet
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Chop spinach and dice tomatoes.
Whisk eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and flour together in a small bowl.
Slowly stir in chopped spinach, diced tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.
Power into a large ramekin. Cover with a piece of the puff pastry sheet (defrosted) OR break off a few pieces of the frozen puff pastry sheet and mix them in with the eggs.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Note: Feel free to adjust appropriately for a bigger container, such as a pie pan. You can also choose to put in different vegetable or cheese, or add meat, if you like.