In her funny new book, Amy Poehler revisits her Sarah Palin rap from 2008. The general election was less than three weeks away. Sarah Palin stopped by Saturday Night Live, and looked on while Tina Fey — whom Poehler calls her “comedy wife” — reprised her spot-on impression of the Republican vice presidential nominee. Then, at the Weekend Update desk, with Palin a few feet away, Poehler rose. She was nine months pregnant and rapping. She mime-shot at a guy in a moose costume and shouted, “Now you’re dead, because I’m an animal and I’m bigger than you.”
One of many small gifts Poehler gives readers of Yes Please is writing about that moment from her perspective, offering a glimpse into being part of something special. Because she knows it was special to be so pregnant, so electric, producing satire so immediate on live television. Or, as she puts it: It was “super fun.”
In addition to annotation from Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur, Poehler sprinkles in several short reflections from her parents. Poehler’s mom recalls finding her way in the world as a woman while raising children; her dad’s sweet tribute ends with a quip.
She gives more than a little window into her life now, including the raw edges of her divorce, cleverly conveyed in proposed books on the subject, such as “Get over it! (but not too fast!)” and “Divorce: Ten ways not to catch it!” She writes about motherhood, too, describing an outing with her sons one evening in Los Angeles to look at the full moon. “The car hood was slippery,” she writes, “so we used our bare feet for traction,” one of many well chosen details that breezily brings the reader into her private and public domains. Her writing demonstrates the skill of this excellent comic actress, a funny woman who roots hilarity in specifics.
Speaking of her Hillary Clinton impression, Poehler says she gave her a crazy laugh and that she loved playing her as a “highly focused and slightly angry woman who was tired of being the smartest person in the room.”
She also tells how it feels to be ambushed by other people’s ambitions. The good kind: people who tell her how much they admire her. The bad kind: people who think meeting with her could be a ticket to fame. Success is about hard work, she notes and illustrates this thoroughly by running through her years of improv in Chicago and New York.
The difficulty of the endeavor for her — as an actor starring in a network television show with brutally long hours, as a mother of two young children — is a constant refrain. But Poehler is well-versed in the notion of truth in comedy — she studied with the legendary Charna Halpern and Del Close in Chicago, authors of the Truth in Comedy improv manual.
So she is funny and honest. Writing a book is hard — but at least she made some good jokes about it.
Rachel Dry reviewed this book for The Washington Post.