Amy Poehler—Burlington native, Parks and Rec leading lady, and now author of the best book on your bookshelf—blessed an intimate crowd in Boston with her presence Wednesday night at a talk hosted by Harvard Book Store. She was joined by an unexpectedly awesome—and sometimes equally hilarious—guest from her past.
Poehler’s high school English teacher, Mrs. Kathy Dalton, accompanied the comedian on stage at Back Bay Events Center to discuss Poehler’s brand-new memoir Yes Please. Dalton led the discussion as the two examined just about every topic in Poehler’s book, like sex, divorce, comedy, college, as well as matters like SNL, nuclear war, and the weirdness of other celebrities.
Between Dalton’s whimsical commentary and Poehler’s amusement at anything and everything, it was a night chock-full of laughter and fun. As Poehler said: “This is really a trip that I’m talking about my high school musical with my teacher in Boston…I mean, time travel is real.”
Here are some of our best takeaways from the book talk:
Poehler inspired Mrs. Dalton to try writing while topless.
In her book, Poehler admits that some of Yes Please was written topless. This dialogue says it all:
Dalton: “You came up with different tips that might help along with the writing [process]. And I noticed that one of them was that it kind of relaxed you to write topless.”
Poehler: “That’s right.”
Dalton: “Well, I tried it! And I thought it was just weird! I’m not as young as you are.”
Poehler: “Well, you know what—different strokes.”
Of all the celebrities with local roots, Poehler has one of the best takes on Boston accents.
“It’s the one accent nobody can get right unless you’re from here,” she told the crowd. And when we local folks see a bad Boston accent on screen, Poehler says we instinctively respond, “That mothahfuckah is not from Boston.” Here’s her version of her own accent:
Poehler had some really accurate insights into what it was like growing up in the “safe, blue-collar town” of Burlington in the ’80s. She said:
Because I didn’t come from a chaotic household, my town felt very sleepy, so I would make up fake things. In the ’80s, the big things we were worried about were lice—which I had, I won’t brag; scoliosis—which I didn’t have, but I know many who did, and once a month we always had to pull up our shirts, lean over, and some doctor would weirdly come and touch our backs; and nuclear war. That’s a big one… So yeah, I’d jump on my bike and pretend I was being chased by Russians, the bad guys, and create my own danger.
She also provided some commentary on poorly named food products. She told Dalton:
[Growing up] was also pre-AIDS. At that time AIDS was just around the corner. And I write in my book that the only thing I knew of AIDS was Ayds—A-Y-D-S—an unfortunately named diet candy that my mother ate. And the people at that diet candy place must have been pretty upset they didn’t name it something different.
Finally, Poehler said she worked at Chadwick’s in Lexington with another Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch—and it was great.
Chadwick’s, a small mom-and-pop ice cream place that has since closed, is actually now a Bright Horizons day care center. After explaining that Chadwick’s has the highest percentage of SNL cast members out of one restaurant, two, Poehler also mentioned that while she is from Burlington, Dratch is from Lexington, and “Lexington is like the Eagleton to our Pawnee.” A classic Parks and Rec reference that put everything into perspective.
Yes Please is out now, Dey Street Books.
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