In her memoir ”Yes Please,” Amy Poehler, the “Parks and Recreation” actress and “Saturday Night Live” alum, relays the fun — and the hard times — of her life. (Dey Street)
yes please

By Amy Poehler

Dey St. 329 pp. $28.99

Bored of the midterm elections? Of your Twitter feed? Of the way this particular weekday afternoon is dragging out its disappointments? Amy Poehler can help. With her funny new book, sure. But, more directly, with her Sarah Palin rap from 2008. Go rewatch it.

The general election was less than three weeks away. Sarah Palin stopped by “Saturday Night Live” and looked on while Tina Fey — whom Poehler calls her “comedy wife” — reprised her spot-on impression of the Republican vice presidential nominee. Then, at the Weekend Update desk, with Palin a few feet away, Poehler rose and went for it. She was nine months pregnant and rapping. Hard. She mime-shot at a guy in a moose costume and shouted, “Now you’re dead, because I’m an animal and I’m bigger than you.”

One of many small gifts Poehler gives readers of “Yes Please” is writing about that moment from her perspective — a glimpse into what it felt like to be on the inside of something special. Because she was there, she is human, she knows it was special to be so pregnant, so electric, producing satire so immediate on live television. Or, as she puts it: It was “super fun.”

Seth Meyers, who makes a brief guest contributor appearance in “Yes Please,” says that when he wants to smile, he thinks about Poehler’s son — who was born a week after she performed that rap — watching his mother’s virtuosity one day.

Meyers isn’t the only cameo in this eclectic memoir. In addition to an annotation from “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur, Poehler sprinkles in several short reflections from her parents. Her mom recalls finding her way in the world as a woman while raising children; her dad’s sweet tribute ends with a quip.

So you get a little window into where this comedian came from.

And she gives more than a little window into her life now, including the raw edges of her divorce — cleverly conveyed in proposed books on the subject, such as “Get over it! (but not too fast!)” and “Divorce: Ten ways not to catch it!”

She writes about motherhood, too, describing an outing with her sons one evening in Los Angeles to look at the full moon. “The car hood was slippery,” she writes, “so we used our bare feet for traction,” one of many well-chosen details that breezily bring the reader into her private and public domains. Her writing demonstrates the skill of this excellent comic actress, a funny woman who roots hilarity in specifics.

Speaking of her Hillary Clinton impression, Poehler says that she gave her a crazy laugh, “which she didn’t have in real life,” and that she loved playing her as a “highly focused and slightly angry woman who was tired of being the smartest person in the room.” She hopes that Clinton got a vicarious thrill from watching.

Poehler talks about some of the fun parts of her Hollywood life, like doing witty bits at awards shows and befriending a Beastie Boy.

She also tells how it feels to be ambushed by other people’s ambitions. The good kind: people who tell her how much they admire her. The bad kind: people who think meeting with her could be a ticket to fame.

That’s not how it goes, Poehler notes. Success is about hard work, and she illustrates this thoroughly, running through her years of improv in Chicago and New York. In fact, she may be too honest about the burdens of hard work.

I’m glad she wrote this book, but I’m not sure she is. The difficulty of the endeavor for her — as an actor starring in a network television show with brutally long hours, as a mother of two young children — is a constant refrain. It makes a reader feel a little guilty. All this work for my enjoyment? You shouldn’t have.

But Poehler is well-versed, of course, in the notion of truth in comedy. She writes about studying with the legendary Charna Halpern and Del Close in Chicago, authors of the “Truth in Comedy” improv manual.

So she is funny and honest. Writing a book is hard, and that seems to be the truth. At least she made some good jokes about it.

Dry is a features editor for The Washington Post’s Style section.