Amy Poehler: The next Gilda Radner?

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When the name Amy Poehler comes up in conversation, it’s generally in reference to her work on Saturday Night Live, where she is the master of many impersonations. Her comedic r?sum? includes famous movie stars, pop queens, political figures and even a one-legged woman who thinks she’s unstopable. Those who watch SNL on a regular basis will know her as one half of the anchors of the Weekend Update segment with Seth Meyers. But Poehler is just a girl from Massachusetts. She sat down to talk with The University News about a Jesuit education, SNL, her husband, Will Arnett, and her new movie, Blades of Glory (Paramount, 2007).

Poehler grew up in Burlington, Mass., and attended a prestigious Jesuit university-Boston College. At BC, she got her first real taste of comedy.

“I kind of started improvising there at a sketch group called My Mother’s Flea Bag,” Poehler said. “[It] was an improv group at BC and that’s kind of when I first got the improv bug, so I have to kind of thank BC for that.”

Poehler also had great things to say about the benefits of a Jesuit education.

“I have to say I had some really great Jesuit professors who [taught] really interesting philosophy and religion classes,” she said. “I remember being at BC when Clinton was elected in ’92, and so, like, I just remember some really cool Jesuit professors, like, taking us down and campaigning for him and talking a lot about politics. My Jesuit professors were very open-minded for the most part, and curious-curious thinkers.”

After graduating from Boston College, Poehler began her comedy career in Chicago at Second City and ImprovOlympics. The city holds a special place in Poehler’s heart.

“As far as my favorite memory in Chicago, oh gosh, there are so, so many. I was so broke when I lived in Chicago and I formed an improv Olympics in Second City, and it’s when I started with the UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade] guys, so . I don’t even know if I can pick just one. I have so many memories,” she said.

In 2001, Poehler joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, which helped her hone her comedic talent. She began her rise with many different impressions, ranging from Anne Coulter to Anna Nicole Smith, Sharon Osbourne and many more. Her time on SNL has often left her star struck.

“I was pretty star struck when Bono came,” Poehler says. “U2 played, and I’m a huge U2 fan, and he was really, genuinely the coolest, nicest guy, and [he] kind of hung out for a while. But, I would have to say Bono . and Bruce Springsteen was another one that it was just cool to see those guys kind of up close, and I was kind of in awe of them. And maybe [Robert] De Niro. De Niro was an intimidating guy. So, when he came and did the show, it was kind of wild, and I think I called him Mr. De Niro for most of the week, and he did not correct me.”

Poehler had a particularly nerdy moment when U2 was on the show.

“My nerdy moment: [Bono] he was rehearsing and I was like, ‘Hey, that was great,’ Poehler said. “He was like, ‘Thanks, have a great day,’ and I was like, ‘You too.'” So I said, ‘You, too’ to U2, which made me shrink a little bit and cringed.”

Poehler has been married to actor Will Arnett since August 2003. The couple stars in the new movie Blades of Glory with former SNL cast member Will Ferrell. They play the villainous brother-sister skating pair.

“It was really fun,” Poehler says. “We had to do a lot of different fancy skating moves, so it was nice to be able to rehearse with someone that you can trust. We did a lot of practicing, like while we watch our dogs and while we were watching Lost. … It was really, really fun, and I am a big fan of Will’s, separate from being married to him, and so it is always great to work with him.”

Poehler had nothing but great things to say about Ferrell.

“I think Will Ferrell is a genius,” Poehler said. “So I think anything he does will turn to gold-comedy gold.”

On the set of Blades of Glory, there was a little trash talk on the ice.

“There would be a lot of fierce trash talk,” Poehler said, “about us, like, kind of taking each other out and ending each other’s careers. So that was really fun. What I lack in size, I make up for in a fresh mouth, so I would kind of yell my stuff and then I would skate away and go hide under a chair where no one would find me.”

If this pint-size comedienne has one person she wishes she could have performed with on SNL would be the late Phil Hartman and Gilda Radner.

“I would have to say that the first person that comes into my head is Phil Hartman,” Poehler said. “I just adored him and I thought he was a genius, and I loved him on the show, and I would have loved to have met him. Of course, I would have loved to have met and worked with Gilda, too, and everyone, basically.”