Is there anything Amy Poehler can’t do? The modern prototype for the “do everything, do it well, and also be really funny while doing it” woman consistently turns out work that’s both entertaining and enlightening, and she does it all with her trademark wit and style. But Poehler isn’t an inspiration just because she’s successful — although, wow, is she ever — but because she’s also stumbled on the road to success and lived to tell the tale. Even better, she’s shared that tale with others (including “smart girls” everywhere), including the stories within her blazingly funny memoir Yes Please.
Poehler’s humor might be her most well-known trait, but it’s her honesty that really shines through in book, which includes stories about her work (from The Groundlings to SNL), her childhood, her self-image, and her drive. Peppered with fun bits, like haikus, mantras, and even a guest appearance or two, the book is a snappy, sassy read that’s inspirational in the way that Poehler is: fully, and without fear for showing off the tough stuff.
If you’ve already read Yes Please and are eager to spend a bit more time with more smarties like Poehler, I’ve got you covered, thanks to nine picks for further reading that will keep you chuckling and groaning in equal parts.
Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham
Dunham and Poehler’s memoirs both hit shelves around the same time last fall with similar themes driving theme — funny ladies getting admirably deep about their personal and professional lives — so it’s no surprise that the books are so often lumped together. But the timing really was canny for these releases, because the books make a genuinely solid pair, sort of like the peanut butter and chocolate of modern funny gal memoirs. Devour one, follow immediately with the other.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Part of what makes Poehler’s book so memorable — and so unmistakably Amy — is her refusal to sugarcoat her stories. Yes Please isn’t some frilly memoir about playing it straight and being a good girl, and neither is Bad Feminist. Both Gay and Poehler grapple with expectations and what it means to be true to yourself (and your ambitions, desires, and needs), even if that doesn’t always mean fitting into some cookie cutter conception of what a woman should be (and how she should act).
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Well, you can’t have Tina without Amy, can you? (The answer is no, no you cannot.)
Live From New York by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
This definitive look inside Saturday Night Live recently got a brand new (and surprisingly hefty) update that brings it very nearly current to the present day. If you’re a fan of SNL (or just Poehler’s own SNL years), this is nothing short of required reading. It will give you a fresh appreciation for everything — and everyone — that goes into making the venerable sketch comedy a hit, even after forty years on the air.
Gasping For Airtime by Jay Mohr
There is certainly a glut of SNL-centric autobiographies out there, but Mohr’s is unquestionably one of the most refreshing. Like Poehler, he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to talking about his professional life — especially his professional failures, of which there are many, including a mess of them at SNL — and he sure as heck doesn’t gloss over the less appealing parts of being a working comedian.
It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner
The original first lady of SNL, Radner tragically passed away back in 1989. Still, her legacy continues to live on in a big way (remember Emma Stone’s bit on SNL 40? that was her own homage to Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna character) and fans of fearless female comedians owe themselves the chance to get to know both Radner and her brand of performance much better. Rander’s memoir hit shelves the same year she passed away, and it’s packed with equal parts hilarious humor and heartbreakingly personal storytelling.
#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Like Poehler, Nasty Gal founder Amoruso made her mark in the business world by not playing by the rules, trusting her own — often, controversial — instincts to form her own mini-empire. Sassy and brassy, Amoruso can be inflammatory, but she’s also quite often just damn inspiring.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
How does Kaling find the time? Between her own television show, film roles, and generally being the best-dressed gal on TV, the comedienne somehow found the time to write her very own memoir about her life in Hollywood, from the very personal (dating!) to the totally splashed-on-television (you know, like her work). Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Mindy?
Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch
Before Poehler put her experiences to print and paper, her SNL pal Dratch did the same thing, thanks to her own memoir, 2013’s Girl Walks Into a Bar. In the book, Dratch sounds off on a range of topics — dating, dudes, drinking, work — that specifically address just how the heck she spent her post-SNL years. (Being funny, obviously, but also being pointedly honest.)