Nonfiction — audiobook. Read by Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehler, Patrick Stewart, and Kathleen Turner. Harper Audio, 2014. 7 hours, 31 minutes. Library copy.
Memoir is likely the wrong word to describe this book. Yes, it provides some details into Poehler’s life — her childhood just north of where I currently live in Burlington, Massachusetts; her time at Improv Olympics in Chicago; her experiences living in a rat-infested, basement in New York City as her improv troop produced their own show on Comedy Central — but there are certain aspects about her life that she refuses to discuss, mainly her divorce and her relationship with her ex-husband.
Understandable considering how she has young children with her ex-husband that they are attempting to co-parent and given how much she hates people knowing about her life. And maybe if I was more invested in Poehler’s career or her status as a celebrity, I would have been disappointed by the distance Poehler inserts between herself and the reader when it comes to her life.
But since I’m not and since I’m not at all familiar with “Parks and Recreation” beyond the couple of episodes I’ve seen on airplanes, I wasn’t phased much by this decision. Actually, to be completely honest, it was refreshing not to have to care about the minute details of yet another celebrity’s life.
(I did get a chuckle out of her admitting that she rummages through people’s dresser drawers when left unattended in their homes. Like all the people I know who keep details about their personal lives close to their vest, she wants to know everything about yours.)
In that same vain, I could have lived without the chapters towards the end of the book when Poehler launches into a what I can only describe as a reading of her resume — her comedy troupe moved from this theater to that one and put on X number of shows, etc. This information was likely included to demonstrate just how hard it is to make it in show business, how comedians have to work in the worst conditions and maybe just maybe they will climb their way up to bigger and better stages over several decades.
So what exactly did I like about this book? Everything else. I was muffling my laughter on the flight back home as I listened to this book because Poehler is funny in a self-deprecating, I’m-a-nice-girl-until-you-piss-me-off kind of way that makes you really want to be her friend.
And she manages to sneak in these insights that are only really digestible when wrapped in humor. I wasn’t expecting to have a personal revelation about my own life whilst listening to this book yet Poehler’s metaphor about treating your career like a bad boyfriend was surprisingly profound for me. She interjected just enough humor that I could laugh as I contemplated, that I could evaluate my own life without feeling as though I was being lectured to and that, ultimately, is what made listening to this book on audio such a great experience for me and why I’m glad I decided to say “yes please” to something I ordinarily would not pick up.