'SNL,' Poehler Stays Edgy with Improv
By Nick A. Zaino III,
Boston Globe - 10/31/2003
In her three seasons as a cast
member on "Saturday Night Live," Burlington native
Amy Poehler has made her mark with frenetic characters and impressions
of celebrities such as Sharon Osbourne and Kelly Ripa. Tuesday,
fans will get to see some of Poehler's best, edgiest work when
Comedy Central releases the first season of "The Upright
Citizens Brigade" on DVD. The sketch show lasted only three
seasons, just long enough to show the potential of what Poehler
and her fellow UCB members Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts
Poehler won't go into detail
why the show was canceled. "It was too good," she deadpans
over the phone. "Comedy Central couldn't keep it because
the show was . . . making the other shows look bad."
Poehler's introduction to the
world of improv and sketch comedy came at Boston College in a
group called "My Mother's Flea Bag." She took that
basic training to Chicago in 1993, where she studied at Second
City and Improv Olympics with old pros such as Del Close, who
later lent his voice to the opening scene of "The Upright
"I was in an improv group
in college and decided that's kind of what I wanted to keep doing,"
Poehler joined the the Upright
Citizens Brigade in 1996. Shortly after, the Chicago-based group
moved to New York as part of the Comedy Central show. They've
stayed together, working at their own Upright Citizens Brigade
Theatre in New York, while collaborating on outside projects.
The theater has taken on a life of its own, becoming a hot spot
for improv and sketch shows, as well as a school for the next
Upright Citizens generation.
It's also a place where Poehler
can return to her roots. After shooting projects such as Barry
Levinson's "Envy," with Ben Stiller and Jack Black,
Poehler can perform with people she started with in Chicago.
"Going and performing at the theater is kind of a relief,"
she says. "It's pretty easy to do something that fun with
people that talented."
While Poehler would've preferred
the Upright Citizens show had continued, she's happy it will
have new life on the shelves.
"Now you can live in DVD
land forever," she says. "People can watch it and program
it once a week like it's still on TV, and everybody will still