‘Knope Out’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About Amy Poehler on Her Birthday

‘Knope Out’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About Amy Poehler on Her Birthday

After first getting noticed with the short-lived Upright Citizen’s Brigade series, Amy Poehler stepped into the larger spotlight as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Managing to avoid the slump that befalls many ex-SNL alums, she reached another level of comedic glory playing the ever-enduring Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. Since then, she’s donned every creative hat imaginable, serving as executive producer on wonderfully subversive TV shows like Russian Doll, Difficult People and Broad City while supporting new industry voices via her female-led production company, Paper Kite. 

For her birthday, here’s a bunch of Poehler tidbits, including how she decided to pursue a career in showbiz and which talk show wanted her as their new host...

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She Found Her Calling in an Ice Cream Parlor

Growing up in Burlington, Massachusetts, which she calls “decidedly blue collar, filled with teachers and nurses and the occasional sales manager,” a young Poehler fell asleep to her parents “arguing about car payments and tuition.” It was consequently common to see local teens taking up part-time jobs to help support their households. 

Before college, Poehler worked at an ice cream parlor where she had to wear old-timey outfits and sing “Happy Birthday” to customers. “I wasn’t sure yet that I wanted to be an actor. I was planning to go to Boston College as an English major and maybe become a teacher, like both of my parents,” she once wrote in the New Yorker. “But when I stood in the dining room and demanded attention, I was reminded of things I already secretly knew about myself. I wasn’t shy; I liked to be looked at, and making people laugh released a certain kind of hot lava into my body that made me feel like a queen.”

She’s a Co-Founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade

Chicago’s improv and sketch comedy group was co-founded in 1990 by Poehler, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Adam McKay, Horatio Sanz, Drew Franklin and Rick Roman. Broad City started off as a UCB experiment, while other comedy stars like Aubrey Plaza, Nick Kroll and Donald Glover also trained with the company.

Poehler and Natasha Lyonne Did a Pilot for NBC Before ‘Russian Doll’

Poehler called Lyonne to ask if she wanted to collaborate on something they could pitch to NBC. They shot a pilot, but not for Russian Doll; instead, it was a show about a “wild child” elder care worker who relates more to older folks than her own peers titled Old Soul. NBC passed, so the two went back to the drawing board and dreamt up their time-loop dramedy.

Her ‘Mean Girls’ Role Almost Didn’t Happen

Poehler’s small but memorable part as Regina George’s delusional mother almost didn’t happen because the studio didn’t want to turn the teen comedy into an SNL movie. “It’s weird, but Paramount had a nervousness about Saturday Night Live,” director Mark Waters told Vulture. “They’d been burned on some Saturday Night Live movies that had come from Lorne, so they didn’t want many Saturday Night Live actors in Mean Girls because then it might feel like an SNL movie, and people might shy away from it.” And so, the director had to fight to get both Poehler and Tim Meadows in the movie.

She’s Just Naturally Good With People

“There were hosts (on SNL) that we liked more than others, but no matter who it was, if Poehler was on the floor during rehearsals, she’d go over and make them feel comfortable,” Seth Meyers told The Hollywood Reporter. “And that’s a job that no one is assigned at SNL. But Amy took it upon herself to make it a good environment, not just for the people who work there, but for the people who just spent a week there.”

Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur also spoke about “The Poehler” — a tradition Poehler started where, whenever they had to film on location, they would wrap with a cast and crew dinner, with each person toasting one another until everyone was toasted. “She (Poehler) would pick out a second AD or a makeup person or a camera operator,” Shur remembers. “It was just the most wonderful way to end a work experience.” 

A Somber ‘SNL’ Debut

Poehler made her SNL debut on the first episode following 9/11. She became the first woman to get promoted from featured player to cast member in the middle of her first season.

Comedy Central Wanted Her to Take Over ‘The Daily Show’

When Jon Stewart announced his departure, Comedy Central ended up eyeing Poehler for their new host — not that they had any hope of her coming on board. “They were pretty much expecting her to say ‘no,’ and it was the quickest ‘no’ in history,” a source told The New York Times.

She Has a Thing for Fake Foods

“I have a thing for realistic-looking faux fruit, tiny crocheted cupcakes, little carved pieces of sushi,” the actor admitted. “I even have a sleeping bag shaped like a slice of pizza. I have no idea where the obsession came from, but I hope it never ends.”

The Scene in ‘Parks and Rec’ That Made Her Laugh the Most

When asked that question during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Poehler responded: “What comes to mind just because it was a combination of a lot of the cast, we did an episode written by the genius Mike Scully about Leslie campaigning. She has to do a speech in a hockey rink, and the red carpet ends too early, and so the entire cast has to walk on the slippery ice to get to the podium. And Gloria Estefan’s ‘Get on Your Feet’ plays over and over again on a loop while they try to make their way. To me, it just felt like old-fashioned sitcommy stuff, all of us trying not to slip and walking together as a group. It was also just so fun because we were all genuinely not trying to slip, and Nick Offerman had to hoist me up, and everyone was falling. It was old-fashioned fall-down comedy.”

She’s a Sucker for an Impromptu Dance Party

“Spontaneous dance parties are important in my life,” Poehler wrote in her memoir. “I have one in the makeup trailer almost every afternoon on Parks and Recreation. Dancing is the great equalizer. It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies. I think if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed, you can rule the world.”

She Made a Show With Her Brother

Poehler produced the show Welcome to Sweden, starring her actor and comedian brother, Greg, who studied at Stockholm University, receiving a master’s in European intellectual property law. Greg had written the pilot and sent it to his sister just to check, but she obviously loved it, and they ended up doing the project together.

She Was Still Rehearsing for ‘SNL’ the Day She Went Into Labor

Poehler was committed to doing the show up until the very last minute of her pregnancy. She was rehearsing the day before the show (which coincided with her due date), and as she explained in her memoir, Yes Please, she went home exhausted. “I went home and got in bed. It was 3:30 in the morning, and I put on my favorite TV show, Law & Order, to go to sleep. I heard the ‘bam bam’ sound effect in the opening credits, and my water broke.” 

The show paid tribute to her on the day she gave birth to her first son. Poehler would do two more shows before departing SNL.

Her First Feature Film Appearance

Poehler made her feature film debut in the 1998 absurd comedy Tomorrow Night. It was a five-second role as “Woman Getting Sprayed by Hose.”

On Why She Doesn’t Do Social Media

Poehler told The Hollywood Reporter she doesn’t want to “offer herself up” on social media. “To me, Twitter is like trying to have a nice dinner with your friends in the middle of an insane asylum,” she explained. “It’s like, ‘Right this way, there’s a lovely dinner with all your friends, and you just have to walk through an asylum for the criminally insane. Maybe everybody will be asleep, and you’ll be able to have interesting conversations with like-minded people, but you may also get poop thrown on you.’”

Amy Poehler Should’ve Gotten a Golden Globe Award for Hosting the Golden Globe Awards

You know we’re right.


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