Women in Comedy.
What is funny lady Amy Poehler doing with her Hollywood capital? She’s pushing female projects through the ‘Boys Only’ comedy door! Though she wants to be clear, she does not bring her children to meetings, the topic of children brings tears to her eyes.
“Many of Poehler’s producing projects involve emerging female talent. ‘It’s selfish,’ she insists. ‘I just like working with women.’ But many fans see her as a feminist activist, changing the world one laugh line at a time. ‘She never apologizes for being a woman, and always does things exactly the way she wants,’ says Lyonne. ‘It’s just her way of existing. And it trickles down into all her projects, like helping all these young female comedians.’ And not just comedians. Poehler and friends Meredith Walker and Amy Miles launched a digital series in 2008 to boost young girls’ confidence (in every episode, Poehler talks to a regular girl with a unique interest or ability, always ending the interview with an impromptu happy dance). Smart Girls at the Party, as the show was called, was first on YouTube in 2012 as part of Google’s Original Channels Initiative. It eventually became an expanded website renamed Amysmartgirls.com and was bought by Legendary Entertainment last October. It currently has about 5 million viewers and nearly a million likes on Facebook.”
Poehler knows first hand the challenges women face in entertainment:
“I have these meetings with really powerful men and they ask me all the time, ‘Where are your kids? Are your kids here?’ she says with a sneer. ‘It’s such a weird question. Never in a million years do I ask guys where their kids are. It would be comparable to me going to a guy, ‘Do you feel like you see your kids enough?’ ”
We love the image of Poehler in a meeting with a bunch of guys as they ask her about her child care situations, can you imagine her face? Intolerable. She’s smart and knows maybe she could take a page from these guys, so she’s trying to emulate them. This is always a powerful tool. If you want to be like someone, learn what makes her successful and copy her, or in this case, learn to talk more like a man. Slow things down.
“I often look to men to model behavior,” she goes on after a pause. “Not because I want to squelch what’s feminine about me, but because sometimes I want a little more action, a little less feeling in my interactions. I’ve been doing this thing lately where I try to talk slower at meetings. I take a lot of meetings with women and we all talk really fast. But every guy talks so much slower. Maybe there’s a scientist who could tell me why, but I think men are just a little bit more comfortable taking up conversational real estate. So I’ve been seeing how slow I can tolerate talking. I’m doing it now. Let me tell you, it’s really hard for me.”
Poehler excels at juxtaposing seemingly contradictory ideas. Her Parks & Rec character treats her small town job as though she’s President of the United States, she is a super star comedian, but she also hosts an advice chat with young girls answering their serious questions on all topics, here she is talking about Love. She also has a show for girls about women who are doing something “different” which makes them cool, Smart Girls At The Party’s theme song hums: “Smart Girls Have More Fun!” — We can’t love this enough!!
Poehler also uses her super powers to help orphans. The World Wide Orphans Foundation is her cause. Here she is talking with the Dr. Jane Aronson about the charity. Poelher’s dedication and connection to WWO is palpable in this speech where she breaks down when talking about the need to help these children.
Dedicated to helping others find their voices, we’re glad we still get some straight-up Poehler humor from time to time. This 2015 Academy Awards bit was a perfect example of her genius.
Poehler offers some good advice for all of us: What if you deleted the word “but” from your vocab and replaced with “and,” — try it for a day!
There’s a thing in improv called the “ ‘Yes, and . . .’ rule,” adds Poehler’s Parks cast mate Aubrey Plaza (who was part of UCB in the 2000s, after Poehler had moved on to SNL). “It means that if you’re in a scene with someone and they set up a premise, you have to say ‘yes’ and go along with it. If your partner says, ‘You’re a doctor and I’m your patient,’ you can’t say, ‘No, I’m not, I’m a fireman.’ Because then the scene is over. Amy has let the ‘Yes, and’ rule bleed into her daily life. She never shuts you down. She always listens and wants to hear what you have to say. But at the same time, she knows what she wants. And you always feel very safe having her in charge, because there’s just this underlying sense that she can steer you in the right direction.”
We are left with just one question: What’s with all the Amy’s in comedy lately?