The Poehler and Fey books are especially of a piece (though Amy's is the fancier production, with slick paper, color photographs and an embossed cover), and could be profitably paired as a holiday gift. The two women trained together at Chicago's
Poehler has struggled in ordinary ways (divorce, postpartum depression) that she doesn't romanticize and has had rare opportunities and successes that she also doesn't romanticize, sizing herself up (or down, as necessary) with a joke. Comedy is wisdom with a crack in it, copyright this column 2014, and "Yes Please" is wise throughout and funny on most every page. It is also filled with fine throwaway lines like "Going outside at night in your pajamas is like breaking out of jail." Nearly the last sentence in the book is "The only way we will survive is by being kind," which sums it up pretty well. Lovely and impertinent.
"The Missing" (Starz, Saturdays). An excellent and involving eight-part human-mystery story about a missing child, and all that follows, told in interlocking streams set in 2006 and 2014.
"Cold War Roadshow" (PBS, Tuesday). A good-humored documentary on Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1959 trip to America. We can laugh about it now, now that we're more likely to choke the Earth than to blow it up, but in those far away, fearful days, children were learning that the way to survive nuclear war was to hide beneath a desk, while the more nervous grownups above them built lead-lined rec rooms to wait out the fallout. Khrushchev, a beaming bowling ball with legs, was the stuff of American nightmares. Yet in an early spirit of detente, he came to call, and his coast-to-coast tour was a bigger deal than Banksy's month in New York, even; the bear, it seemed, was a pussycat, and kind of a hit. It turned out to be a false spring -- next year's U-2 crash would bring back the chill -- but we're friends now. Aren't we? Local historians will enjoy footage of L.A. in the late '50s. Sergei Khrushchev, the premier's son, who was along for the trip, and Susan Eisenhower, the president's granddaughter, share their memories. Robert Stone ("Oswald's Ghost") and Tim B. Toidze (Moscow born and raised) co-direct in an appropriate spirit of international cooperation. "American Experience" is the presenting series.