Amy Poehler opens about how comedy has changed for women since her SNL days


Amy Poehler cover for The Hollywood Reporter. Image courtesy of THR.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Poehler revealed how working in comedy as a woman has changed, and why she’s bringing her SNL alumnae back for a new film.

Amy Poehler is growing her comedy empire, and it’s one that’s built on a strong foundation of feminism. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in a feature interview, Poehler revealed how being a woman in the comedy has changed since she first started on Saturday Night Live, and how that’s led her to create the comedy empire that she has today.

In her latest film, Netflix’s Wine Country, you’ll notice it’s like a mini SNL reunion. Poehler stars alongside big names like Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer. As THR notes, this is Poehler first time in the director’s chair, and she brings to set a mentorship-like quality when it comes to directing the stars of the film. Poehler said:

"A lot of my work [as a director] was slowing everybody down, reminding them that they didn’t have to come in and score. Because these ladies are assassins. They parachute in to other people’s movies and they’re the funniest part of the movie. They just kill. But many of them have not necessarily been in the entirety of a movie, with a continuing arc that we’re going to stick with."

The movie was inspired by a real-life trip the stars took for Dratch’s 50th birthday. And much like the 2017 movie Girl’s TripWine Country fills the void of movies focused on celebrating female friendship without a man being the center of it all.

If the movie had a tagline, it’d be “Girls just wanna have fun,” and the movie industry could use a few (or rather, a lot) of movies where women are allowed to have fun and experience events from a true female perspective. (Just take the latest Birds of Prey movie, for example where we see how carefree Harley Quinn looks after separating from the Joker — and getting touched up by a female director.)

Part of what makes Poehler so successful in this sphere is that she’s focused on uplifting her co-stars rather than trying to outshine them or put them down. The new director told THR: 

"We always cheered each other on, and I think it speaks to the bigger change over the past 10, 20 years. There was a societal feeling that there was only room for one woman on the top of the mountain at a time."

This is something that seemed apparent from the very beginning of her time on Saturday Night Live in the 2000s. Surrounded by the likes of Fey, Rudolph and Dratch, Poehler always fit right in with her female peers.

As someone who’s an early learner of improvisation and sketch comedy myself, I’ve learned that one of the worst mistakes a person can make in improv is trying to be the star of the show. The art is all about working with others and making them look good. And when it comes to women, in particular, this is the golden formula for making sure that your comedy excels and no woman is left behind.

Tina Fey mentioned in the article that it was no easy road getting there for women. She praised Poehler for pushing past the hardships of yesterday and taking things to the next level:

"Amy is taking the work of the women of early SNL — Gilda Radner, Jan Hooks — to the next natural progression of being proactively, actively feminist in her work. Those ladies had to work hard just to survive. Amy has always been conscious of being a positive influence, of the work having to be very good and of using her position of having a theater and building great TV shows to bring other young women forward."

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You can watch Amy Poehler in Netflix’s Wine Country, which begins streaming on May 10.