Amy Poehler: “Yes, Please” and how your career is a bad boyfriend

In Amy Poehler’s inspirational new book that’s part memoir of her life in comedy — up, up and still rising from iO to UCB to SNL to Parks and Rec — and into advising young comedians and other “Smart Girls at the Party” as an executive producer, Yes Please really speaks to many of us when she writes about how you should treat your career as if it were a bad boyfriend.

While making the promotional rounds last week, Poehler touched on this mantra more than once. Here she mentions it during a live interview for AOL:

Sitting down last week with her former SNL and Weekend Update castmate Seth Meyers at the 92Y, Meyers got Poehler to clarify and expand upon the concept a bit further.

amypoehler_sethmeyers_92y_2014“Of course, you want to believe that you know what you want. However, your career is a bad boyfriend. It will never pay enough attention to you. It will always be mean to you. It will flirt with other people in front of you. It will never marry you. It will never leave its wife. It’s a bad boyfriend. And it will only – I just want to make the distinction between career and creativity. Because creativity is the thing that you love to do. And creativity is what makes you feel warm and fed. It’s like a wonderful Hispanic woman who laughs at all your jokes and she has like crinkly eyes and she’s like, ‘Oh!’ and she hugs you and she makes you delicious food, and you get along with her son. But that’s creativity. That’s what you should be around. That’s what you should search out. But career is just fickle and success is MSG, and the less you focus on it, weirdly the more you get rewarded. If you ignore a bad boyfriend, he can’t get enough of you.”

They both laugh.

“So that was my feeling about, trying to, a lot of people ask, ‘What is the secret to success?’ I think you have to ask, ‘What is success to you?’ I think I made it very clear in the book that it’s money and bitches!” she joked.

“It’s very clear,” Meyers said.

“That’s who I dedicate it to. I dedicated the book to all my bitches.”

“It’s the last three words,” Meyers quipped. “You say if there’s any three words I want you to leave, having remembered…” then changes tack back to sincerity. “It’s interesting. You talk about, which I also think is very true as well, from the outside I think people assume, certain people in this business assume they have this moment of, I did it, I made it. That’s not a thing. You point out, you never make it to the top of Success Mountain and just relax.”

“No,” Poehler answered. “And you know, from us growing together and working together, so many things happening with us together, that process. You just, it’s not like you get your own show and suddenly, the work stops or the feeling of like, ‘How can I push myself? What’s next?’ This never goes away. We’ve met very very famous famous people who, you would think would be like pretty like, ‘I’m doing pretty well!’ But it’s never quite enough, if you expect your success or your career to fill you up entirely.”

Meyers: “I always thought SNL was a place you saw that clearest because you would have huge movie stars come in, and if, after a sketch that they felt they screwed up, you’d see them be like, ‘God-d—it.’ Why do you care? You get to go back to being a movie star! Then you realize they have to care. If you’re good at this, you kind of have to care about all of it. Which I think is really nice.”

“Yeah,” Poehler said. “And also, you don’t want to get soft. Or just complacent. I just think there just really very few people who feel like they did it. And it’s a good reminder when you’re feeling so far away from what you want – I don’t know if that distance ever changes. No matter what you have. You have to accept that the distance of what you have and what you want might always be this way. What do you, how do you behave in the in-between?”

“I like what you said, though, is if what you enjoy doing what’s giving you what you have, it really helps pass the time,” Meyers said.

Poehler laughed. “Yes.”

Yes Please. Buy the book to read more!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

2 thoughts on “Amy Poehler: “Yes, Please” and how your career is a bad boyfriend

  1. What’s with the crack about “a wonderful Hispanic woman who laughs at all your jokes and she has like crinkly eyes and she’s like, ‘Oh!’ and she hugs you and she makes you delicious food, and you get along with her son. ” ? What does ethnicity have to do with her point? 50 years ago it would have been Aunt Jemima but that’s all changed now. Hispanics are easy targets and who cares about their sensibilities.

Comments are closed.