143348272 Amy Poehler on Mad Men & Her Nickname for Tina Fey

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Although it’s almost summer, Amy Poehler—who stars in the NBC TV series Parks and Recreation as Leslie Knope, a bureaucrat in the parks department of a fictional Indiana town—is anything but idle. Speaking with Caryn James, a film and culture critic, at the 92nd Street Y in New York last Friday night, Poehler said she had already seen the new film Rock of Ages that day with fellow Parks and Recreation castmate, Adam Scott.

She also is shooting two films this summer. She’ll star with Paul Rudd in They Came Together, which she described as a “romantic comedy parody” being made in New York. The two actors previously made Wet Hot American Summer together (as well as various episodes of Parks and Recreation, in which they appeared as dueling politicians); both films were written by David Wain and Michael Showalter

The second film, You are Here—directed and written by Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men—is with Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis. “The best part of this job is that I get to go on the set and talk to the person who created Mad Men about Mad Men after I watch it. I get to ask him specific questions,” she said.

Poehler admitted she was “so happy” she was not delivering any commencement speeches this year, as she did at Harvard University in May 2011. “They’re hard work, it’s a lot of responsibility,” she said.

Suggesting that Poehler’s serious message to Harvard graduates had been that “whatever you do, you can’t do it alone. You really have to find someone, to look into their eyes and they’ll have your back,” James asked if she had proposed this because of her many years of doing improv. “I studied improvisation in Chicago. You learn very quickly that you kind of have to depend on your partner, you have to work together in order to make something great, or make something at all,” Poehler explained. “The rule that I learned there, the tactics that were taught to me, do apply in the way I like to live my life: Say yes, support the other partner, try to listen intently when someone is telling you something, don’t bail, always go out for a beer after something.”

She also said she had “a lot of great memories of hilarious people that I got to perform with and the both of us tanking together, everyone I performed with in Chicago, every person whose name you would recognize.”

“When I first started improvising with Tina Fey, we would do the most terrible improv scenes,” Poehler said, adding that she calls Fey ‘Betty.’ “I think I’m the only one, I hope so, I better be, that and all her many lovers. She’s got a lot of Betty qualities, I think,” she said.

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