When you think of Amy Poehler, your mind could veer off into 10 different directions: the star of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Weekend Update anchor, SNL’s Hillary Clinton impersonator, the baby mama from Baby Mama, etc. Well, if you haven’t already, you should add one more to that list: Bessie Higgenbottom, a senselessly energetic 10-year-old intent on earning every badge in Honeybee Scout history.
For over a year Poehler has given her voice to Bessie (complete with a Sylvester the Cat-styled lisp) on Nickelodeon’s The Mighty B!, a cartoon show she co-created with friends Cynthia True and Erik Wiese (a SpongeBob SquarePants veteran). Poehler’s foray into animation is a welcome addition to Toonland: the show’s humor comes from absurdist twists, awkward pauses, and the endearing goofiness of a character who is a tad too zealous for life. Her character’s overreactions to everyday life are laughably ridiculous most of the time, but somehow childishly universal on another level.
For a taste of The Mighty B!‘s honey, check out the music video below, with music by New Wave revivalists Unisex Salon and vocals by Amy Poehler (!) herself:
With plenty of success and more than enough work to occupy her time, we had to know what drew(haha) Poehler into playing a cartoon character. She pointed out being animated provides certain job perks you don’t get from live-action comedy: “I can cut myself in half, stretch my arms like taffy, split into a million pieces, turn my head into a pumpkin and eat my own hand.” It would be hard to turn down a job with that description.
Poehler’s animated alter-ego has a lot in common with Leslie Knope, her character in Parks and Recreation: Both are overly ambitious, ever-optimistic and sometimes needlessly enthusiastic. Does Poehler have a thing for these types of characters?
“Anyone who is enthusiastic and misguided is fun to play,” she told us. As to whether she sees herself reflected in Bessie, Poehler admits, “It’s a little bit me. But she is certainly bossier and more organized than I was [as a kid]. Bessie is like a honeybee…always organized and focused on the task at hand. She dives into everything headfirst. She is a brave little tiger.”
The cartoon’s Halloween episode “Catatonic” finds the exuberant Honeybee scout gearing up for the holiday as a pirate (she spent months eating salted pork in preparation) only to be dismayed to receive a cat suit in the mail. But a toilet plunger to the head (hey, it’s a cartoon) knocks out her marbles and when she comes to, she believes she actually is a cat. Bessie spends the rest of the toon oscillating between the unpredictable extremes of feline behavior while her brother (voiced by Andy Richter— do cartoons get cooler than this?) tries to prevent their mom from realizing her daughter is coughing up hairballs.
I tried to extract from Amy some thoughts on cat hilarity, but she wasn’t having it, instead (correctly) calling me out as a closet cat lady. In response to my query about why cat behavior is so funny to people, she said: “Sound like someone has a cat. And they are convinced that cat is hilarious.”