Working in the entertainment industry has its challenges, none more so than when you are a white woman interested in making people laugh. But Amy Poehler, best known for her leading comedic role alongside Tina Fey in Baby Mama, her numerous and varied roles on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and her turn as Leslie Knope in hit NBC show Parks and Recreation has taken on that challenge and paved her own way to comedic success.
In her first published book (and possibly her last, because ‘writing a book is hard’), Poehler gives a fascinating insight into her showbiz journey. Growing up in a small Massachusetts town where drinking alcohol excessively was the norm, Poehler realised early on that she loved to make people laugh, and almost obsessively sought the thrill of a happy audience. One way she discovered she could do this was by improvising on a ready-made script , going with the flow and using the unexpected to raise a chuckle or two from the crowd. This love of improvisation lead her to Chicago, and later New York, where she participated in small theatre, worked as a waitress to help support herself and got regularly stoned. These cities were also where she met and became close to such stars (although they were also relatively unknown at the time) as Tina Fey, writer Seth Meyers, Louis CK and many other regulars on the comedy circuit.
While she has had bit parts in several popular Hollywood movies, Poehler focuses more of her attention on her roles on SNL and Parks and Recreation, where, as a writer and producer, she had a lot more say in what happened on screen. She lists the merits of hosting awards shows like the Golden Globes, and the excitement and fear associated with ‘the pudding’ (being nominated for and winning such awards). She also talks of her beautiful two boys with ex-husband and fellow comedic actor Will Arnett, and about the obligatory topics (for people in the business) of sex, drugs, and phones that want to kill you.
Interspersed with tales of her childhood acting aspirations, acrostic poems, script parts, written pieces from friends and a small collection of photos, this book isn’t just a memoir- it’s a collection of everything that makes Amy Poehler stand out from other performers her age, and is well-worth reading if you’re a fan of hers and feel like having a chuckle or two.
I've been meaning to read this book. Bearing in mind that I haven't, so the bits I have seen are out of context, I have major reservations about lines like "You have to have sex with your husband sometimes. Sorry." Even as a joke that kind of thing fosters an attitude that paves the way for spousal rape.