It’s the time of year that everyone starts looking inward, wanting to shake off bad habits and consider who their authentic self really is, not the weird cookie monster that inhabited their body for the whole of December.
I think my authentic self should be more like Amy Poehler.
There’s a slight contradiction in this. One of the reasons why I’d want to morph into her is that she has a web series called Smart Girls that ‘celebrates individuals who are changing the world by being themselves.’ So, no world changing for me. Still, some good will surely come by mimicking the golden positivity that spews out of Amy Poehler. Smart Girls focuses on encouraging young women to value their intelligence and creativity instead of trying to fit in. The website is brimming with articles of activism, interviews with inspiring women and shared stories. Anyone who puts effort into boosting the self esteem of young people and creating a safe space for them to share is valuable.
Poehler’s had a pretty phenomenal career which has its roots in improv. She studied at Boston College and became a member of improv group My Mother’s Fleabag, moved to Chicago and performed at the ImprovOlympic theatre and eventually ended up on Saturday Night Live, which is like fairy dust to comedians. I’ve tried a few times to understand the appeal of SNL, but all I can ascertain is that people speak very loudly. The show has spawned a plethora of comedy legends (Tina Fey, Eddie Murphey, Will Ferrell, Bill Hader, Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Bill Murray and Kristen Wig, etc…) but they’ve also rejected some pretty big names (Kevin Hart, Louis C.K, Jim Carrey, etc…). It’s a big deal to land a spot on that show and therefore it’s impressive that Poehler has become one of its most successful performers (despite the show being aggressively unfunny).
She’d go on to star in Parks and Recreation as one of the greatest fictional female characters: Leslie Knope. Knope works in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana, as a mid-level bureaucrat. She’s the definition of a do-gooder, but miraculously she’s entirely charming and wonderful. Poehler made being good cool, but isn’t limited by that mould. Poehler is also a big fan of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson who created the female stoner comedy, Broad City. She became their mentors and executive producer on their series, helping it find a larger audience and securing its TV slot. She’d fit right in with Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon who’s mantra is/was ‘sending the elevator back down.’
I’ve recently picked up her book Yes Please as an antidote to a particularly emotionally draining read. Usually, I struggle with memoirs, but hers isn’t an attempt to describe every event in her life in a linear procession, instead it’s like a really good conversation with a friend where they tell you about their day in giddy detail. There’s a lack of preciousness to Poehler without her contribution seeming aimless, it’s a real skill. Poehler’s put a lot of thought into being kind to herself. Her book is brimming with advice to others to do the same. To not exhaust yourself trying to meet career goals, or be around boys who are not nice to you, or worry that your face is changing shape as gravity has its wicked way. She’s got a very calming outlook on life which can only be a good thing.
She’s also very good at costume.