Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Doesn't Hurt

"I've always dreamed of growing up to be Amy Poehler." - Amy Poehler

The world provides many idols: religious, false, American, Billy. I have a touch of superstitiousness and am fascinated by the symbolism, ceremony, and cultural significance of idols - I'm pretty positive growing up with one foot in the door of Catholicism had a hand in this - but I don't really subscribe to any such object-worship in particular. I do have a ceramic lucky kitty on a bookshelf because something about those little guys just delights me, but I could hardly say I idolize the thing when I high-five its raised paw. When it comes to people, a person as an idol tends to become objectified, and that person becomes the object of hero-worship, but when it comes to me, the person I worship - well, I just dream of being like her, and fantasize about being her friend and meeting her for brunch. Here's the weird thing, though: it just so happens that this idolatry is manifested in my face.

Since the last years of college, there have been several occasions on which a friend or acquaintance, or even a practical stranger, would comment that I reminded him or her of Amy Poehler. Usually it was based on a physical likeness, that I looked like her, but if the person knew me beyond what I looked like, they would also make a comparison of personalities. I didn't quite agree at first. Despite a few endearing comparisons made by my boyfriend to Jenny Lewis in certain photos when I sang and had reddish hair, I'd never really thought I looked like anyone but just plain ol' me, although I like to imagine that because my father looks a bit like a younger Jon Voight, I could have looked like Angelina Jolie had my mother been Marcheline Bertrand instead of a blonde occupational therapist.*

I was honestly taken aback by this comparison, because frankly, I've adored Poehler for years and wouldn't ever flatter myself to conceive of such a connection - plus, I think she's pretty darn cute. Often, upon someone noting the similarity, others would undoubtedly stare blankly at my face for a few moments before declaring, "Hm, I don't see it." But as more and more unsolicited analogies were made, I started to think that maybe all these people weren't actually in on a really boring conspiracy. There are some resemblances, sure - we're both on the short side, with comparable blonde hair with bangs, and a sarcastic wit. We share a love of tall, sardonically funny men, Tina Fey, and silliness. We're obviously both hilarious (at least, that's what I like to think when I make people laugh - fingers crossed). And after some very studious, self-indulgent observation sessions in the mirror and being presented with some photographic evidence of a few ridiculous faces I tend to make, I suppose I can admit that our crooked smirks, and the way those smirks sneakily crease up from our jawlines to our cheeks like wry parentheses, can indeed be quite alike.

Amy Poehler happens to have played a character on Saturday Night Live named Kaitlin (correct spelling even! Uncanny!), described by the ever-wise Wikipedia as an "excitable preteen." If you've seen her as Kaitlin, and you also know the Kaitlin whose blog you happen to be reading, then you know that she and I share the ability to be awkward people very well - it is an unfortunate fact that hyperactive awkwardly-fast-talker Kait shows up to embarrass cool-collected-awesome Kait from time to time. Further parallels can be made between me and socially-inept over-acheiver Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, so let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief that I never got involved in government works. Poehler's impersonation of Sharon Osbourne clutching a visibly confused Pomeranian is one I do myself if I'm moved to annoy, my cat Eliot as the casualty.

Really, all of this is self-serving, because when I'm feeling smug, I fancy myself as pretty funny. Likewise, when I'm feeling insecure, I fancy myself as pretty funny, but... I hear laughter after I make some remark or joke and think Uh oh. Maybe they're just patronizing me, like patting a child on the head when she makes an asshat of herself in front of the adults. I hope they don't think I'm an asshat. Wait, maybe there's something on my face. Do I have cheese on my face? I did eat a lot of cheese earlier. Please don't let them be laughing at a gouda smudge. (Turns out, my internal monologue isn't backed by a soundtrack of awesome 1970's TV show theme music with a swagger-pumped bass line; rather it tends to just be frequently punctuated by a cartoon trombone whining a sad womp womp womp wooooommmmp.) And so I think of the comparisons that have been made between me and Amy Poehler as validation of my sense of humor as well as my expression of it, and if someone's opinion links us... well, there's no higher compliment you could give me, and I will want to be your friend forever (consider that a warning).

When the swelling of flagrant vanity subsides, I float back down to reality, where maybe I could pass as Poehler's younger, funny-enough sister - I know I'm no doppelganger. But I will happily settle for a passing observation of "Hey, you remind me of that blonde chick from Baby Mama..." and I will blithely thank them and hope they meant it in a nice way. Tina Fey beat me to it by writing her own love letters to Amy Poehler, but let this be my overture - Amy Poehler is brilliant and I idolize her, but more than my idol, she's my inspiration. She's unapologetically funny and she won't be pigeonholed, and she doesn't give a crap what you think or who you think she is (her quote at the top of this post says it all). My lucky kitty would high-five her in a heartbeat. While she may not be curing cancer, she's making people laugh by doing things her way, and with her as my role model, I hope I can say I've always dreamed of growing up to be Kait... but that it doesn't hurt to be Amy Poehler.

*Don't worry, mom - I think you're pretty cool.


  1. I think you're as funny as Amy Poehler, but I see her humor as more goofy and yours as more witty. And I still think you look more like Alison Sudol from A Fine Frenzy. :)

  2. P.S. I will always let you know if you have Gouda on your face.

  3. *Sorry that you didn't turn out to look like Angelina Jolie but I really don't think you resemble Amy - you're way prettier. And I think you're cool too.