Amy Meredith Poehler (; born September 16, 1971) is an American actress and comedian. She was a cast member on the NBC television entertainment show Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008. In 2004, she starred in the film Mean Girls with Tina Fey, with whom she worked again in Baby Mama in 2008. She is currently the lead of NBC's comedy Parks and Recreation. She has been nominated twice for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance on Saturday Night Live, and once for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance in Parks & Recreation.
Poehler was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and grew up in Burlington, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eileen and William Poehler, both teachers. A 1993 graduate of Boston College, Poehler was a member of America's oldest collegiate improv comedy troupe, "My Mother's Fleabag". After graduating from college, Poehler moved to Chicago, where she studied improv at Second City, with friend and future co-star Tina Fey. She also studied with Del Close at ImprovOlympic, going on to become part of the touring company as well as teaching classes at IO.
During her time at Second City, Poehler studied with Matt Besser, part of the Upright Citizens Brigade. While the group initially consisted of many members (including Horatio Sanz, Adam McKay, Rick Roman, and Neil Flynn), Poehler quickly became part of the group along with Matt Walsh. The two, along with Besser and Ian Roberts, performed sketch and improv around Chicago before moving to New York in 1996. Immediately after moving to New York, the group quickly scored a TV gig, appearing as sketch regulars on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
In 1998, Comedy Central debuted the group's eponymous half-hour sketch comedy series. During the show's second season, the group opened an Improv theatre and training center in New York City at 161 W. 22nd Street, occupying the space of a former strip club. The UCB theatre held shows seven nights a week in addition to offering classes in sketch comedy writing and improv.
In the summer of 2000, Comedy Central canceled the Upright Citizens Brigade program after its third season, though the UCB Theatre continues to operate. The foursome continue to work together in many projects, and frequently perform together in live improv shows at their comedy theatres in NY and LA.
Poehler joined the cast of SNL during the 2001–2002 season, her first episode being the first one produced after the 9/11 attacks - with host Reese Witherspoon, musical guest Alicia Keys, and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a special guest. Poehler was promoted from featured player to full cast member in her first season on the show, making her only the third person to have earned this distinction (after Harry Shearer and Eddie Murphy).
Beginning with the 2004–05 season, she co-anchored "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey, replacing the newly departed Jimmy Fallon. In a TV Guide interview, Fey said that with Poehler co-anchoring, there now is "double the sexual tension." When Fey left after the 2005-06 season to devote time to the sitcom she created, 30 Rock, Seth Meyers joined Poehler at the anchor desk. Poehler was nominated for a 2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Comedy Series, the first SNL cast member recognized in this category. She was heavily favored to win by many critics, but ultimately lost to Jean Smart. She was nominated once again in 2009, but lost to Kristen Chenoweth. On September 13, 2008, the SNL season premiere opened with Fey and Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, respectively, performing a "joint political campaign spot."
It was officially announced on September 16, 2008 that Poehler would be leaving SNL in October due to the birth of her child. On the October 25, 2008 episode, it was announced by Weekend Update co-anchor Seth Meyers, who anchored the segment alone, "Amy Poehler is not here because she is having a baby", to wild applause from the audience. At the end of Weekend Update, special guest Maya Rudolph and current cast member Kenan Thompson sang a custom rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for Poehler, changing the words: "We love you Amy, and we just can't wait to meet your baby!" Meyers signed off: "For Weekend Update, I'm Seth Meyers - we love you Amy!"
Poehler returned to the show on November 3, 2008, during the "SNL Presidential Bash '08", "hosting" as Hillary Clinton. The Bash was pre-taped from scenes shot between September and October. Her return to SNL after her pregnancy was on December 6, 2008, where she stayed for two weeks. During "Weekend Update", on December 13, she thanked her family, friends, and fans for the continued support and announced that it would be her last show. On April 18, 2009, a Saturday Night Live special, "The Best of Amy Poehler", aired. Poehler returned for Weekend Update (signing off with "...and he's Seth Meyers") and joined the "chorus" for Will Ferrell's "Goodnight Saigon" (along with the SNL cast and Tom Hanks, Maya Rudolph, Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange, Anne Hathaway, and Green Day) on the SNL season finale on May 16, 2009.
Poehler returned to the Weekend Update desk in the fall of 2009 with Meyers, for two WU Thursday episodes, which led directly into Parks and Recreation. Poehler also returned to Saturday Night Live for a special Mother's Day episode on May 8, 2010, hosted by Betty White.
Poehler returned to Saturday Night Live on September 25, 2010 to host the Season 36 opening episode with performer Katy Perry. She returned once again for the Saturday Night Live special, "The Women of SNL". The special aired on November 1, 2010.