“Amy Poehler is a firecracker. She has an explosive amount of energy and just lights up a room. She is an inspiration to young women to get into comedy. And she can fly.” -Tina Fey
Amy Poehler is my comedy hero. A star player on the team that restored Saturday Night Live to water-cooler dominance in 2008 (even Hillary Clinton adored her Hillary Clinton impression), she left the show, had a baby boy and emerged in 2009 as the star and producer of NBC’s Parks and Recreation.
Amy’s alter ego on Parks is Leslie Knope, the overly ambitious deputy parks director of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. Leslie is a character who exudes all the qualities Ms. Poehler most loves to play. “She’s naïve and narcissistic, completely deluded and completely out of touch with reality.” Leslie is blessed with a kind of social tone-deafness that turns out to be more professionally useful than you might expect.
Where her co-workers see the parks department as a dead-end job (her boss would prefer to abolish all government and go with a business model like the one they use at Chuck E. Cheese) or an easy gig, Leslie sees it as the steppingstone to a career in national politics.
“Government isn’t just a boy’s club anymore,” she boasts. “Women are everywhere. It’s a good time to be a woman in politics: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, me, Nancy Pelosi.”
“When Obama says, ‘Okay, America, let’s get to work!’ Leslie is the one who responds, ‘Great! I have all these big ideas!’ ” Poehler says. “Government shows are usually about people making huge decisions super quickly—those big walk-and-talk shots down the halls of the White House. We wanted to explore the small ways in which people try to make a difference…and fail.”
I was late to the party on this one, and had to catch up via DVD but this show is getting funnier with each episode and has really hit its stride now, in my opinion. The focus of the show has slowly changed. Leslie Knope has softened. The limp romance between Mark (Paul Schneider) and Ann (Rashida Jones) moved to the background. The true lunatic weirdness of the show—from Chris Pratt’s pit-dwelling, shoe-shining, Deal Or No Deal-auditioning Andy to Ron Swanson’s (Nick Offerman) love of brown haired ladies and breakfast food—started to emerge. The show has got a deep bench.
Aziz Ansari as Tom, is always good for a one-liner. His advice to Mark on dealing with Ann’s ex-boyfriend trying to get her back was to take the high road: “I have never taken the high road. But I tell other people to, because then there’s more room for me on the low road.” Aubrey Plaza is my newest comedy girl crush. Her witty, dry sarcasm absolutely kills me. Guest stars like LouisCK, Megan Mullally, Fred Armisen and recently, Andy Samberg have added some extra fun to the mix. And of course there’s little Amy Poehler. She has so many colours and she’s funny in all of them. In the acting world it’s called range — in the comedy world it’s called delightful smorgasbord. Amy is funny because she doesn’t care what you think, but she does want to make you laugh. It’s a complicated and important combination.
Parks and Recreation is absurd, hilarious, packed with polished jokes, unexpected turns and boasts real heart. Simply put, it’s one of the funniest shows on television right now. Start watching. Plus, I’m sure it’ll be way less annoying when I quote lines from the show if you watch it watch it too.