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amy poehler: yes please

Comedian Amy Poehler has written a frank account of her life to date, including various random essays, advice and email correspondence. She spills on working on Saturday Night Live with stars like Britney Spears, her marriage and subsequent separation from Canadian actor and fellow comedian Will Arnett, to her obsession with her phone (she does actually put her children first, at the phone’s peril).

I am still surprised when a pretty funny and let’s face it a professionally funny person writes their life story and it comes off kind of boring. It is ironic that publishers clamour to get the rights to celebrity and actor’s life stories, yet in reality they can be a little on the dull side. This is the second autobiography that I struggled to finish in recent times (John Cleese’s ‘So Anyway’ was another one).

Part of the problem is that most people want to put their best face forward, so to speak, but their best face does not necessarily make for good reading. Mind you on one of her random pages that feature non sequiturs like ‘Calling people Sweetheart makes most people enraged’, she states ‘ Sometimes I Worry that not enough people hate me’. A strange thing for a person to write who is constantly making apologies for herself!

Poehler was born in Massachusetts and grew up in a relatively stable ‘lower middle class’ family. She began improvising as a fourth grader, while playing Dorothy, in a school production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Like a lot of comedians who later went on to SNL, she moved to Chicago and got a gig on Second City, where she met Tina Fey, who she would later work with on SNL, Mean Girls, and Baby Mama. Her training on Second City, with the frenetic pace of writing, rehearsing and performing was the perfect warm up for SNL, where she would appear in 8/9 sketches per show, which included lightning like costume changes, while watching stars like Robert De Niro donning his own costume.

Poehler’s hard work has paid off: her career trajectory has gone from sketch comedy to acting in feature length films to producing. She might seem far too nice for the industry (she is genuinely grateful for her lot in life, in spite of a few ups and downs) maybe this is the problem with the book, a few diva like tantrums would have rounded it out nicely.

YES PLEASE is published by Pan Macmillan Australia, rrp $32.99

Joy Minter’s review was originally published on her website- www.thebuzzfromsydney.com

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