What It’s Like to Be Friends With Amy Poehler

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Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

The greatest thing about being at an event honoring Amy Poehler is, well, a whole lot of Amy Poehler. Pretty much every funny person in New York came out Monday night — including much of the current SNL cast, on a busy week when they’re prepping a show for host Scarlett Johansson — to watch Poehler receive the first-ever award for “innovation in comedy” from Gilda’s Club of New York City, the organization named in Gilda Radner’s honor that provides a community of support to cancer patients and their families. Their objective was to make Poehler laugh and feel as special as she makes them all feel — really, it was an overflowing of sweetness — while fund-raising for a good cause. Vulture hung around to see if we could get a sense of what it’s like to be friends with the woman in comedy who seems like she just might be the best friend to have. Ever. Here’s what we gleaned.

If you are friends with Amy Poehler …

She will make you feel like you made the right outfit choice.
Poehler was in the middle of getting her picture taken on the red carpet Monday night, but as soon as she spotted her good friends Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer, she stopped everything to give them hugs. “Hey, guys! I owe you big time.” (She was referring to Dratch and Gasteyer being the hosts of the evening. Says Gasteyer: “Of course we both immediately said yes when she asked. She’s just a humble, generous soul.”) Then Poehler stepped back to look at their outfits: “Oh my God, you look great! We all did such a good job!”

She’ll give you your first break.
SNL
’s Bobby Moynihan says he wouldn’t be on SNL if it weren’t for Poehler, who hired him as a bartender at Upright Citizens Brigade — the improv theater she co-founded — in late 2000. He started taking improv classes there a few months before Poehler left to do SNL. “Then, eight years later,” says Moynihan, “I got SNL six months before she left.”  

She’ll gracefully pass the baton.
Current "Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost remembers tons of email conversations with Poehler — who’d been on SNL when Jost started as a writer but left before he became an "Update" anchor. Most of the advice centered around how he’d only learn how to do the job by doing it. But the No. 1 lesson Jost learned from working with Poehler was, he says, “Oh my God, just to bring joy to it. As a fan of hers, having started with her, I think that’s what I learned about the job in general, was the reason you’re at SNL is you want to feel like you’re goofing off, you want to feel like you’re having fun. That’s always what inspired me.”

Jost’s co-host Michael Che says he feels an encouraging boost whenever Poehler comes by the SNL offices to visit. “That’s the cool thing about being on the show,” says Che. “It’s almost like the high school team when all the star players come back to just watch other people that are playing this time.”

She will be a happy participant on that Parks and Rec group text.
Poehler admits she misses her Parks and Recreation gang. “I was just texting with the cast today because we’re on a text chain,” she says, “and today Nick Offerman just sent us a picture of calzones, and Adam [Scott] was like, ‘Those look delicious.’ It’s a lot of stupid texting that happens, and that’s nice. So the stupid texting remains, but yes, I have withdrawal about the people, and I love the people very much.”

She’ll be an awesome listener.
“Amy is the first person that I always call when I want serious pragmatism and [no]  judgment,” says Gasteyer, on issues such as: “‘Did I look bad with that perm?’ to ‘Would you think I’m an idiot if I took this kind of job?’ I feel like Amy’s always the first person I call because she’s the one that will say, ‘Let’s just look at the black and white of it, and break it down as to what’s helpful to you and not helpful. And how’s this gonna work, without judgment, without me holding you to someone else’s standards besides your own.’ Amy always loves me for where I’m at.”

Dratch agrees: “To me, Amy’s like two friends in one, because she’s like the super-fun friend when you want to laugh and just be silly, and she’s also, like Ana said, the really-good-listening friend, giving-advice friend, taking-your-problems-seriously friend. So she’s got like the perfect combo.”

Want to be like Poehler? “Keep it light when it needs to stay light,” says Gasteyer, “and listen when you need to listen.”

She’ll make you feel like you’re the funniest person in the world.
“One thing about Amy is you can hear that laugh from a mile away,” says SNL’s Kenan Thompson. “Just that laugh is so contagious, so to hear that in something you wrote is like, ‘Oh, she thinks it’s funny.’ It’s pretty obvious. I remember that a lot, hearing it down the hall and down the corner. I was upstairs and I would hear it from downstairs and around a few corners. It’s so infectious, and it’s a genuine laugh. It just sounds like it’s filled with joy.”

She will laugh the hardest of anyone when you announce in front of a room of fans and friends that she’s not your favorite female SNL cast member ever.
“I actually prefer Victoria Jackson, but I think you’re fine,” said Billy Eichner, as Poehler laughed outrageously. “I liked her characters! I don’t let politics stand in my way of what I like and I don’t like in comedy!”

And she’ll laugh even harder when you do a routine chastising her for all the terrible tweets she sent from her actually nonexistent Twitter account.
In perhaps the best routine of the night, Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner gave Poehler (who doesn’t actually have a personal Twitter account) some tough love over an imagined night when she joined social media, got needy and drunk, and went off-brand. Among her offenses: going political and tweeting how #FrackingRules; offering to “Bill Cosby” Zayn Malik from One Direction; and getting a little honest about that endorsement deal. ‘It’s so funny I do ads for Old Navy because their clothes are affordable and I’m RICH! Biotch!’” read Eichner. “Almost too honest,” he said, shaking his head. But the tweet that got the most ire from Klausner and Eichner was simply, “Vaccines cause autism.” Poehler basically fell on the floor, she was laughing so hard.

She’ll treat you like family.
To Gasteyer and Dratch (whom Poehler calls “Drootch”), she said, “You guys are my sisters. So nice and pleasant. It was the most fun working with you at SNL. We had the most fun time, like an illegally fun time. And the thing I’m most proud of is we are in each other’s lives still in unique and cool ways, and it just reminds me over and over again that you just never stop making friends. You know, you never get too old to make a wonderful, special friend, and I think there’s a lot of people here tonight who are involved in Gilda’s Club who realize that. Right?”