I’ve been a fan of Saturday Night Live ever since about middle school, when I was finally old enough to stay up and watch it. I am especially fond of the Girl Power years, when Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph were all in the cast and were all crushing it!
Rudolph has yet to write a memoir, but I’ve read the memoirs of the other three. Here are their publisher descriptions and my personal opinions of them.
Yes Please – Amy Poehler (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $12.99). From Amazon:
Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?
If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.
KF on KND Editor’s Review:
This isn’t a chatty, gossipy, fluffy kind of book. Like Poehler herself, this memoir is very direct and grounded. Poehler describes her youth, the experiences that initially drew her into comedy and the zigzagging path she took to achieve all that she has. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes stories about The Groundlings, The Upright Citizens’ Brigade, SNL and Parks & Recreation too, but the stories Poehler chooses to share are those that highlight the best in her colleagues and she’s not stingy with doling out credit where credit’s due. In the rare instances where she relates less complimentary stories, the names are left out.
So this may not be a book that dishes the celebrity dirt, but it’s filled with hard-won life lessons from a woman who’s worked for decades to succeed in one of the most difficult and sometimes cruel industries for women: entertainment. There’s some great advice here for any woman, no matter her walk of life. Poehler has wrestled with body image and looks demons, career challenges and stalls, and plenty of difficult people, and she’s come out with a terrific, empowered perspective. 4.5/5 stars.
Bossypants – Tina Fey (4/5 stars, currently priced at $7.99). From Amazon:
Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)
KF on KND Editor’s Review:
Such an interesting and funny book! I love it when smart women win, and Tina Fey is a terrific example. The book charts her path from humble beginnings through her rise up the ranks at SNL, with plenty of juicy celebrity tidbits thrown in along the way.
Fey shows an amazing level of candor, relating not only her personal successes but plenty of stumbles and outright failures along the way. She’s also quite open with her insecurities at various points in her life and career, and in the end one comes away with the feeling that a girl with a head on her shoulders really CAN accomplish her goals without compromising her principles, even in showbiz. 5/5 stars.
Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle – Rachel Dratch (4/5 stars, currently priced at $9.77). From Amazon:
The former SNL star recounts the adventures and unexpected joy of dating and becoming a mom when she least expected it—at the age of forty-four.
Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as “Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians.”
Her career as a female comedian at a low point, she suddenly had time for yoga, dog-sitting, learning Spanish—and dating. Dratch reveals the joys and terrors of putting herself out there in a quest to find love and then becoming a mother in an undreamed-of way. With riotous humor, she recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and romance and coparenting with her baby-daddy, John.
Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Dratch’s time on SNL, Girl Walks into a Bar . . . is a funny book with a refreshing version of the happily-ever-after story, full of sensitivity, candor, and plenty of comic relief, as only Rachel Dratch can tell it.
KF on KND Editor’s Review:
A disappointment for me.
This book has its moments of SNL reminisces and tales of an awkward girl finding her path and calling, but it just seems so excessively focused on the author’s past preoccupation with finding love (she eventually did and is now married with a child – that’s no spoiler, all of that was publicly announced back when it happened).
Of course the desire for love and companionship is a valid and relatable concern for many single people, but it’s just not what I thought this book would be all about. It crops up again and again, like a recurring theme or overarching question, in virtually every chapter.
Many reviews raved about how funny this book is, and compared it favorably to Bossypants, but I just don’t see it. If you’re interested in Dratch’s lengthy, bumpy road to finding true love at last, you’ll probably like this. Otherwise, you may be disappointed. 3/5 stars.