In a nutshell: Remember to laugh — a lot.
Calling Amy Poehler a decent multitasker is like calling Hillary Clinton kind of ambitious. Poehler, 43, works 12-hour days as both the star and the executive producer of NBC’s Parks and Recreation (which begins its seventh and final season in January) while also producing Comedy Central’s Broad City and NBC’s Welcome to Sweden. She just finished the movie The Nest alongside her former SNL costar and “comedy wife,” Tina Fey.
Meanwhile, she has two young sons (Archie, 5, and Abel, 4) and is in the middle of both a divorce (from fellow comedian Will Arnett) and a hot year-old romance (with Parks and Rec guest star Nick Kroll). Oh, and in her spare time she wrote Yes Please, out this month — a part-memoir, part-manual mashup of inspirational career counsel and laugh-out-loud sex advice. We wanted to ask Poehler how she juggles it all, but apparently she hates that question (I fantasize about answering…with one-word answers:”Ambivalence.” “Drugs.” “Robots,” she jokes in the book). Instead, we asked her to share some of the life lessons she’s learned on her journey from Chicago improv student to Hollywood renaissance woman. Take notes!
1. Say Yes More
“[The title Yes Please] came out of my improvisational training; when someone offers you something onstage, you say yes to it. Saying yes to things got me pretty much everything I have. Saying yes is the reason I am where I am.”
2. Don’t Fear Your 40s or 50s
“Obsession with age is like the war on drugs: It’s gonna be a lot of money spent, a lot of people hurt, and not much is gonna change. There are things that come along with getting older. You get really good at not taking things personally. When you see people acting or behaving a certain way, you don’t do what you did in your 20s, which is assume it’s because of something you did or there’s something wrong with you. You just watch it the way you would watch a child having a tantrum.”
3. Realize Friendships Get Better With Age, Too
“The quality of people in my life, especially friends, has really emulsified. It’s like a really good spaghetti sauce that you’ve cooked for a long time. You get better at figuring out the people you want to be around and the person you want to be.”
4. Embrace the Power of Pregnancy
“There’s this whole superhero quality that you have when you’re pregnant — it’s very sci-fi. You have this sidekick living inside you that could burst out at any moment, and people [can be] pretty freaked out by that. You also take up a lot of space physically. There’s a lot of power in having a big surprise under your shirt.”
5. Laugh in the Face of Divorce
“Any time you go through something — divorce, childbirth, anything [with] a huge learning curve — everyone is watching. I wrote a thing on what I thought would be good fake divorce book [titles], like Be Careful: Divorce Is Contagious and Don’t Worry, I Don’t Want to F— Your Husband.“
6. Let Your Freak Flag Fly
“You know when you look in your closet and you’re like, Nothing’s working? I say, give yourself a theme. [My Parks and Rec costar] Rashida Jones and I have a game: We decide for three months how we’re going to dress, like Japanese Executive, Little House on the Prairie, Female Sailor on Leave. A couple of months ago, our look was Eighties Art Dealer: black blazers with shoulder pads, high-waisted jeans, air-dried hair and big eyebrows.”