News broke last night that one half of everyone's new favorite awards-show hosting team, Amy Poehler, is working on a book that's set to be published by the Harper Collins imprint It Books in 2014. Though she joins a growing line of female comedians who have ventured into the world of literature — including friend Tina Fey, and "daughter" Lena Dunham — Poehler's proposal sounds less like a straightforward collection of essays and more like a hybrid picture book, joke collection, and diary. And it might have more of a cause than that. A press release described the as-yet-untitled book as such: "An illustrated, non-linear diary full of humor and honesty and brimming with true stories, fictional anecdotes and life lessons, the book will be a unique and engaging experience from one of today's most talented and beloved stars." So what can we expect — or hope — from Poehler's first foray into publishing?
An Appeal to Smart Girls
One of Poehler's most intriguing side projects has been Smart Girls at the Party, a YouTube channel by Poehler and friends aimed at, well, "smart girls," in which Poehler interviews youngsters about their lives and doles out advice. Here's a Smart Girls mission statement of sorts:
Though it ascribes to the HelloGiggles ethos that the Internet can be a scary world for girls and that safe, positive spaces like the one Smart Girls provides are much needed, the Smart Girls videos have been refreshingly straightforward. Here, for instance, is Poehler's interview with a pint-sized feminist. And here, sitting on a couch, Poehler answers a question about body image talking to viewers like a mom or big sister. In a way, the Smart Girls at the Party series aligns Poehler herself with her her Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope, an optimistic, successful woman who believes in the power of women to make big or small changes in their communities. (Just see the show's most recent episode, "Women in Garbage.") Harper Collins's release explains that Poehler's book is "inspired in part by Poehler's interest in helping young women navigate the adult world," so we expect to see some of the go-get-'em spirit from Smart Girls translated on the page.
Still, some of Poehler's best comedy is marked not simply by its earnestness so much as its earnest craziness, and the "non-linear" structure of the book implies that we might see the same woman who turned the name "Rick" into a punch line.
Maybe it's to their detriment, but several books from the female comedian-memoir genre of late have featured at least a taste of name-dropping. Tina Fey told stories of her time as Sarah Palin, though her best essays were about life outside a television studio. Mindy Kaling talked about what its like to work in The Office writers' room. While we would praise Poehler for being able to steer clear of this trope, we don't think it's necessarily going to happen. Even on Smart Girls, famous male friends like Aziz Ansari pop up in the "Boy's Minute" segment. That said, if she gets Hillary Clinton involved, kudos to her.