I am a big fan of Amy Poehler from “Parks and Recreation.” Did she always know she was funny?
—Patricia De La Torre, Hershey, Pa.
Poehler, 41, who plays Leslie Knope on the NBC sitcom, “Parks and Recreation,” modestly says the jury may still be out on how funny she is for many people. But she adds, “When I was really young, even when I was trying to be very dramatic, I got a lot of laughs, so I don’t know what that tells about me.”
It was around the family dinner table in her childhood home in Burlington, Mass., that the actress developed her sense of humor, competing with dad Bill, mom Eileen and brother Greg for attention. “You had to hold your own at our table. I was a big-time ham.”
By the time she was in college, the comedian was firmly entrenched in the process of making people laugh as a member of Boston College’s improv troupe, My Mother’s Fleabag.
After graduation, Poehler move to Chicago, which is famous for its improv theaters. She studied at Second City, where she met Tina Fey, with whom she would later star in “Baby Mama,” and at ImprovOlympic, where she was elevated from student to a member of the touring company.
During that time, she became a member of a sketch/improve troupe named Upright Citizens Brigade, which landed a job as sketch regulars on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and then were awarded a TV series on Comedy Central, which lasted three seasons.
From UCB, Poehler made the move to “Saturday Night Live,” where she became famous for her Hillary Clinton impressions and stayed for eight years. By then she had more than a clue that she was funny.
“At that point, I had been doing skit comedy and stuff,” she says, “So I was at least doing a good job of fooling myself. So yes, the combination of maybe naiveté and bravado got me in the door there.”
Poehler currently splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. She is separated from husband, actor Will Arnett, with whom she has two sons.