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  New York Times Review

AMY POEHLER ADMITS she wrote her new memoir while sleep-deprived. And it shows. But not in an entirely bad way. It helps that Poehler is upfront about her exhaustion, given that she is a 43-year-old sitcom star who shoots 12 hours of television a day while mothering two children under 7. Even when Poehler does sleep, she wakes herself up 20 to 30 times a night (according to a Beverly Hills sleep clinic) and, apparently, snores "like a dragon." She freely allows that "Yes Please" is a "spontaneous overflow in the middle of chaos, not tranquillity," a thing written on subways and planes, "ugly and in pieces." And in the end, no apologies. She finished the job. Perfection is a luxury. As improv's godfather Del Close used to say: "Don't think." "Get out of your head," Poehler writes. "Stop planning and just go." As Poehler's multitasking did not leave time for her to give her book a cultural context, let's offer one (as Seth Meyers, who contributes a short chapter, says, "so that Amy can take a break"). Starting from the 1950s, a quick lineage of women in comedy might include Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, Lily Tomlin, Gilda Radner, Whoopi Goldberg and 1990s stand-ups-turned-sitcom-stars such as Roseanne Barr, Brett Butler and Margaret Cho. The next wave of funny women landed around 2000, when Tina Fey became a head writer for "Saturday Night Live" and the cast featured Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Cheri Oteri, Maya Rudolph and Poehler. Beyond "S.N.L.," today's female comedy stars include Ellen DeGeneres, Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling and Sarah Silverman-all of whom have written memoirs. There are enough comedian memoirs published, in short, that we can classify them in two genres. The late, great Joan Rivers is Old School. In "I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me," she mocks celebrities, celebrates bad attitudes and extols plastic surgery. New School is Tina Fey's fearsomely witty and polished "Bossypants," a wry, self-deprecating account of a hugely successful career that offers smart, "Lean In"-worthy advice and glosses over the 30-pound weight loss that was required for her to become a "S.N.L." regular. (Ours is the era of the surprisingly harnisch Lome Michaels.) As one can deduce by its relatively anodyne title (inspired by the "Yes, and..." maxims of improv), "Yes Please" is New School. Even fans of the genre, the enjoyment of which-we can good-naturedly admit-depends more on personality than text, may experience a little disappointment. Poehler fans devastated by her divorce from Will Arnett get no answers-it's addressed in one paragraph. Woe also to those who crave showbiz gossip: From Bono to Prince, "S.N.L." guest stars are depicted as friendly and courteous. The only amusing dish is on Betty White, whose end-of-the-workday regimen is to fix herself "a vodka on the rocks and eat a cold hot dog." But even that grace note is telling, because in the end, Poehler's real interest is in how comedians work, rather than how they don't (think of Brett Butler going broke and moving to a house in Georgia with 15 pets). As such, the detailed anecdotes Poehler does share serve to illuminate a deeply influential era in American comedy and culture. Her early improv group, the Upright Citizens Brigade, began, interestingly, less as a Harvard Lampoon-style comedy factory than as an anarchic performance art troupe. In 1990s Chicago, U.C.B.-ers did everything from consume Thanksgiving dinners on street corners to performing a sketch declaring an end to baseball at the entrance to Wrigley Field. Poehler's subsequent tenure on "S.N.L." began right before 9/11, and reached a political apex in 2008 with Poehler and "comedy wife" Fey's zeitgeist-defining act as Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Her chapter on awards, however, may be the most personally revealing. Whenever Poehler is nominated, she'll invite all her female competitors to help her transform an anxious evening into a joyous group prank (e.g., each nominee, upon hearing her name, automatically goes to the stage as though she has won). It's an enlightening look into the emotional character of a craft. Just as the documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom" depicts backup singers anxious about stepping into the spotlight, sketch improvisers appreciate-even crave-the group. In her next decade, Poehler might have a few extra minutes to further burnish her more personally reflective humor. (When her 6-year-old son asks, "Did you once have a penis and break it?," she contemplates replying with "a joke that would screw him up for life": "Yes, my son. Your mother once had a penis, but it broke because you didn't love her enough.") But that will be then. Where is Poehler now, at "pre-peri-middle-aged"? "I'm at the point in my life now where delivering a B-minus performance on a televised show with some of my comedy heroes doesn't ruin my week." Is that depressing, she wonders? Readers may think not, but no matter, the job, and day, is done. A vodka and cold hot dog beckon. Snoring like a dragon, until tomorrow's 5 a.m. call at least, Poehler deserves a good night's sleep. Poehler's real interest is in how comedians work, rather than how they don't. SANDRA TSING LOH is the author of "The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones."

  Publishers Weekly Review

Comedian Poehler exudes her signature, lovably awkward charm in the audio edition of her collection of personal essays. Over the course of the book, she ruminates on a number of topics-from motherhood to her raise to fame on the Chicago and N.Y.C. comedy scenes, with plenty of tales from behind the scenes of Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation to boot. Her narration is as spontaneous as the anecdotes she shares, with her voice ranging from goofy and spastic to subdued. The audio edition features a host of guest narrators, including Poehler's parents and fellow Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers, along with hysterical cameos from Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner (the latter is the voice of Poehler's dark side, in short interrupting clauses throughout). Poehler frequently mentions her unease at writing a memoir but when it comes to reading that memoir she is clearly in her element. A Morrow/Dey Street hardcover. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p> GRAMMY NOMINEE </p><p> Audie Award, Humor, 2015 </p><p>Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you're invited Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler's Yes Please . The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy's parents - Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza.</p><p>Also included? A one-night-only live performance at Poehler's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience.</p><p>While listening to Yes Please , you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don't miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. Offering Amy's thoughts on everything from her "too safe" childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and "the biz," the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a "face for wigs" - Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by.</p>
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