Maya Reddy ‘17 and Emma Doherty ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Amy Poehler’s return to Boston for the book tour of her memoir, Yes Please was certainly “trippy” as she called it. Amy’s high school English teacher, Kathy Dalton facilitated the discussion in the event entitled “A Conversation with Amy”. And it was exactly that, their ease and comfort with one another made it seem like everyone was listening in on a private conversation. Those that attended her event in Boston got to see a more personal and in depth side of the universally loved funny lady. Her mom and dad cheered for her in the large crowd, while Amy would offhandedly gesture to her childhood friends in the audience. She talked about the books she read in the ninth grade which were books most everyone read during high school, her first apartment in New York, and her transition from college improv to Second City. Despite the chock full sold out theatre, theres something about Amy that gives her the ability to make it feel intimate and cozy, almost like you’re old friends catching up (a girl can dream, right?).
What made this stop on her tour so unique was the fact that she was not being interviewed by someone in the industry or a fellow comedian. Amy was interviewed by her high school teacher Mrs. Dalton. It was interesting to see someone talk to her who has been able to watch her grow and also knew her as a child. What was most fascinating about their relationship was the high level of respect they held for each other. Amy made this apparent when she frequently addressed the teacher by saying “Yes Ma’am” and attempting to keep the conversation PG. Mrs. Dalton’s admirance for Amy was also quite clear in her own subtle ways. As an English teacher, Dalton knew exactly what points of the books to talk about, or to have Amy read aloud from. But it was clear that she put a lot of thought into what she wanted Amy to focus on, she wasn’t like other interviewers who are told what to look for; she found hard hitting points of the book and truly wanted to know what it took for Amy to create this wonderful piece of literature and her thought process behind her choices.
The two also spent a fair amount of time reading questions from the audience, in which those attending were allowed to send in questions a couple days in advance. Not all of the questions were the usual ones Amy gets asked. She was still as funny as ever, but there was a more serious side to her because she put a lot of thought and consideration into the more personal and intellectual questions. She was able to make everyone crack up, but she also spoke about the more serious aspects of her life, such as how she became more of a feminist as her mom returned to the workforce. She briefly touched upon being a woman in such a male-dominated field. But she especially emphasized her future goals to empower young girls through her online community “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls”.
Another highlight of the event includes discovering Amy was the lead in her high school musical performance of Once Upon a Mattress. Although she turned down a request to perform the song “Shy”, she did say she would consider the thought of doing something musically or even on Broadway, if the opportunity ever arose.
When asked about her Boston accent, and if it ever resurfaced when she would visit Boston or her family, Amy just exchanged looks with her mother, and the two responded, “yes” simultaneously. She also noted that one word she has the most trouble saying without the accent is “government”, which proved to be a burden when working on her NBC series Parks and Recreation. Amy interacted with her parents several times, and it was fun to see her relationship with the people behind this amazing woman. After the show, her parents spoke briefly with other members of the audience graciously.
What Amy read from the book was inspiring. The first thing her teacher had her read out of Yes Please was the foreword of the novel. As Mrs. Dalton stated, that piece of writing immediately set the tone for the rest of the book. She writes about the process of writing a novel. How it’s hard work, but something that mostly anyone can do. Amy emphasized the fact that it isn’t something only intellectuals can do; she rejected the condescending undertones that often come with authors speaking about writing. It was impressive to see someone speak so candidly about the writing process.
Overall, Amy’s return to Boston for her book was a refreshing take on a woman thought to be known by most. Seeing Amy reminisce and interact with people from her childhood was a wonderfully insightful experience, and her humor, as always, shined through in even just a casual conversation.