I listened to the audiobook version of this publication – which I HIGHLY recommend.
Auto-biography of Amy Pohler’s life and career thus far from her time in Second City all the way up into the final season of “Park’s and Rec”. This book focuses mostly on her professional life, with small sections that delve into personal stories.
First a note about the audiobook version – it’s awesome. I feel that readers are actually missing out a little bit because of all the added material and different voices to be heard in this version. Plus, Pohler’s performance and delivery about her own life could never be recreated as brilliantly in your own head so it was a real treat to hear her read it.
This book had a clean, clear message that was beautifully woven throughout the course of the novel in several different examples and stories.
Pohler’s voice comes through strong and authentic with just the right amount of humor and humility. I appreciated her honesty and vulnerability in some of the more personal parts.
From what I could tell on the audiobook version this appeared to be a short read with several parts you could easily stop at. Each “chapter” felt like a wrap up so there was never a concern that I would forget or miss out on information.
There were pacing problems with this novel. You are warned of this from the very beginning and a couple of times throughout – but it was, at times, very distracting.
Pohler weaves back and forth over the length of her life throughout the novel which is very stylishly done in the first two thirds. The last third of the novel continued to use this convention but it wasn’t as smooth or easy to follow. The last third of the novel has several different kinds of writing. She tells a long form story about the Upright Citizens Brigade that I felt should have been more toward the middle. She tells almost poetic short form stories about her children. She has some lists she quickly fires through, and then (for the audiobook version) reads the final chapter in front of a live audience. While I really enjoyed the live version it only added to the pacing issues and wasn’t as cohesive as I would have liked an ending to a novel to be.
There were two things that really stood out for me over the course of this novel. The first was the idea that Pohler kept coming back to of “Yes, please”. It is an improve standard to ensure that the action continues to move in a skit – you should never say no in improve. But, Pohler continues to use this idea throughout her life and attributes it to much of her success. Saying yes and having manners can get you very far, according to her. I 100% agree. More and more I’m witnessing the decay of manners – as if it’s some kind of archaic custom we no longer have time for. This isn’t some rant about men not opening doors for ladies – this reaches everyone down to a very personal level. People don’t know how to genuinely say please and thank you anymore. We are starting to become so desensitized that no one even knows how to accept a compliment. When you don’t have to talk to someone, or look someone in the eye to order some food or a drink you lose the level of gratitude that helps feed a low level of humility within you. When you don’t have to use manners to acknowledge the effort someone else has either put in or is giving to you these efforts become expected rather than appreciated. In other words – no manners create divas…and no one wants a diva around 24/7.
The second concept that I continue to think about is about gender equality in Hollywood. Pohler gives an example of one (of many times) that she felt there was a double standard biased against her for being a woman in Hollywood. This example includes a producer attempting to use guilt to cover up his own mistake, as well as asking for a hug (super creepy). In the end the question she leaves with the reader is, ‘If I was a man, do you think this would have happened to me?’ Of course, the answer is no. Pohler doesn’t give any kind of solution to the problem, unlike Fey in Bossypants, but she brings up an excellent point. No matter how hard she’s worked, no matter how much she’s contributed, there still remains a double standard that women – especially in comedy – are stacked against. I’m in no way an expert on the subject, but I do know that even in my own career and life there are still things that “women are just better at” and it often makes me angry to hear that. Until we can all see each other as capable of having the same strengths and weaknesses – regardless of gender – this is just keep happening. I don’t have an answer either, but I did feel quite a bit of solidarity with Pohler in sharing this very personal story.
Rating: 4 Stars
Reasoning: Quick and hilarious read, but pacing problems at the end left for a jumbled up final message.
Recommended For: Fans of Pohler, comedy writing, parents, working mom’s, anyone in need of a good laugh.