Dey Street Books
I’m a sucker for these sorts of books – the comic-memoir/the memoir by a comedian/comedienne. There are some that are laughably bad, others are far too earnest – some try to milk a thin-joke premise as far beyond breaking point as could ever be possible. Others are far too straight. You never quite know what you’re going to get. But you also always know what you’re going to get: an easy read.
These are almost always 300 page books you can nail in a day. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that wasn’t part of the appeal. Not so much in a runs-on-the-board approach to reading, just a way of knocking something off, reflecting briefly, moving on.
You read books by Amy Poehler – like this one – or Tina Fey (I think I expected more from her Bossypants, I felt a bit let down by that one) as much as an endorsement; you’re supporting them, showing your fandom, pinning your colours to the mast. So what you take home from it, if anything, depends on the level of fandom.
I like Poehler, her highlight reel from SNL is impressive and she had a long, strong tenure there. And more recently she’s made it with Parks & Recreation, one of a handful of post-Office (er, well, the italics should overcome the pun there) shows in America that took a similar premise and succeeded.
So this collection of thinly threaded memoir moments includes some comic essays but mostly tells us where she’s come from, geographically, philosophically, comedic-ally.
She is full of love for her collaborators – particularly Seth Meyers and Tina Fey (and the Parks cast) – and she manages to show a respect and restraint when talking about her ex-husband (comic actor Will Arnett) rather than allowing bitterness to seep through the text.
The best thing about the book – and there are some funny moments, Poehler has an intriguing comic tone that can creep up mid-sentence – is that it seems consistent with the Amy Poehler we think we know from movies and TV appearances. This is someone slightly baffled by their own success but who knows they’ve worked hard, someone sceptical of the machine and the spin around Hollywood and TV-land but dedicated to their craft – and someone who seems genuinely talented, genuinely pleasant but not a suck-up and never a bore.
So no dirt here, no informative spiels to take to heart but a nice recap of memories from Saturday Night Live and some stories from a person who seems like a good sort.
There are worse things you could do with a Saturday afternoon than read through this, relatively effortlessly.