Diane Keaton has a whopping girl crush on her and Tina Fey claims her as her "comedy wife". As Elle magazine proclaimed earlier this year, Amy Poehler is "simultaneously the adorable little sister who makes you laugh and the wise older sister who supports you through your darkest hour". But now, comedy's golden girl, a person too private and self-promotion-averse to have a Twitter account, is set to tell all in her forthcoming memoir and self-help guide.
Before it even hit the bookshops this week, advance glimpses of Yes Please were already plastered over the internet. She did drugs! She shares sex tips! She's finally spilling about her divorce! But as even these titillating snatches reveal, the really scandalous thing about US television's most appealing personality is her niceness. And if that implies sappiness, think again. With a determination not dissimilar to that of the character she plays on her hit mockumentary, Parks and Recreation, Poehler is on a mission to boost all things perky and fight back against the cult of cool.
Yes, she dallied with cocaine, but she wouldn't again. "Cocaine is terrific if you want to hang out with people you don't know very well and play ping pong all night. It's bad for almost everything else," she writes in a chapter titled "Obligatory Drug Stories". As for pot, it stops her performing, driving or writing, and just isn't feasible when you have two small boys wanting you to play robots. And guys, she counsels, "you should relax about sex - women don't always need it to last as long as you think they do. They're tired."
As for her recent split from fellow funny person and the father of her sons, Will Arnett (30 Rock, Arrested Development), the reasons behind it are "too sad and too personal" to divulge, but she does offer a metaphor sure to resonate with anyone who's been there: "Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands."
Not that the book isn't also hilarious. There she is on the back of the jacket, beaming out from a photo in which she's dressed up like a naval captain, complete with jaunty cap and pipe, her gaze trained on some far-off horizon. Along with a brief author bio - writer, actress, producer, director, mother - it details her aims: "She hopes this book will get her invited on to her hero Judge Judy's yacht, Triumphant Lady."
Though the word comedian doesn't feature in that capsule bio - it hardly needs to - the "yes" part of the book's title is rooted in her first love, improvisation.
As she explained in a college class day speech at Harvard in 2011: "I learned some rules that I try to apply still today. Listen, say yes, live in the moment, make sure you play with people who have your back, make big choices early and often."
That wisdom has long been paying off for the 43-year-old star, whose net worth is reported to be around US$18 million ($23 million). This year seems sprinkled with a little extra magic, however. In January, she won a Golden Globe for her role as peppy local bureaucrat Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation (she celebrated by seeming to make out with Bono). She also happened to be hosting the ceremony - for the second year running - with her old friend Tina Fey, a gig that included Poehler donning a gender-bending Justin Bieber wig and pretending to be Fey's teenage son. Welcome to Sweden, a new show she's executive producing alongside its star, her brother Greg, aired in the US earlier this year, and she's executive producing another, Broad City. Then, just last month, her online community, Smart Girls at the Party, was snapped up by media mega-company, Legendary Entertainment.
Co-founded in 2008 with Meredith Walker and Amy Miles, it's aimed at teens and tweens - mostly girls but boys too - and carries the motto: "Change the world by being yourself". Its mission statement emphasises "intelligence and imagination over 'fitting in"' and celebrates "curiosity over gossip". Regular features include interviews with inspirational women of all ages, and Ask Amy, a video blog in which Poehler films herself in her car, at her desk, or stretched out on her bed, fielding questions from anxious viewers.
Parks and Recreation showcases a realistic friendship between two women - Poehler's Leslie and Rashida Jones' Ann.
Looking sometimes glowy and put together, and like her hair needs washing - fully human, in other words - she advises on topics such as getting better at maths, fighting negativity and the virtues of silence.
It's largely from this project that Yes Please springs, spotlighting a nerdy, earnest side to the miniature goofball that is as crucial to her appeal as those barbed punch lines and her inability to tolerate fools. As it turns out, her character overlaps with Leslie Knope's in more ways than you might realise, beginning at high school, where she was class secretary.
The elder child of teachers, Poehler grew up Catholic in Burlington, a blue-collar suburb of Boston. Creativity, she insists, needn't come from a dysfunctional home. Hers was happy, but you earned your place at the dinner table with wit and expected a side of good-natured teasing.
She did some theatre as a child but it wasn't until she encountered the improv troupe My Mother's Fleabag at Boston College that everything snapped into focus. In 1993, after graduating with a degree in media and communications, she moved to Chicago to study at The Second City, arriving just as Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris and Steve Carell were leaving, and teaming up with Tina Fey. She also joined a sketch and improv group called the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Sketch, she says, was always uncool. While standups would put out their cigarette and stroll on stage to talk about themselves, Poehler and her gang would be lugging around costumes and wigs and fake blood. Nevertheless, in 1996, they moved to New York and soon won a TV spot on Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
A show of their own followed in 1998, and in 2001, Poehler joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, making her debut on the first show to be produced after 9/11. Midway through that season, she became the first woman, and only the third person (after Harry Shearer and Eddie Murphy), to graduate so soon from featured player to full cast member. Later, she played everyone from Kim Jong-il to Britney Spears.
As Nancy Franklin once observed in The New Yorker: "There's no entrance fee of coolness or hipness for enjoying her humour, and you don't hate yourself afterward." Even Hillary Clinton was a fan of Poehler's Hillary Clinton impersonation. But possibly her most memorable moment was when, nine months pregnant, she performed a rap written for Sarah Palin. It was, suggests Fey in her best-selling book, Bossypants, "the most meaningful moment for women in the 2008 campaign".
Poehler hasn't made political feminism central to her shtick but it's there at the heart of her work in a practical, most meaningful way, whether she's helping young girls fulfil their potential or simply showcasing a realistic friendship between two women on Parks and Recreation. (That friendship between Leslie and Ann, played by Rashida Jones, is the show's real romance, she says.)
And despite her approachability, interviewers know not to ask her how she juggles everything. ("Robots" is a favourite answer.)
Fey's memoir also recalls a scene when Poehler was still new to SNL. They were all in the writers' room doing their own "comedy bits" while waiting for a read-through to start. Poehler was in the middle of something particularly loud, dirty and "unladylike" when Jimmy Fallon, the show's then star, told her: "Stop that! It's not cute! I don't like it." To which Amy, wheeling round and going "black in the eyes for a second", replied: "I don't f***ing care if you like it."
With equal fierceness, she's now claiming the right to say both yes and please. As she puts it: "It's not about being a good girl - it's about being a real woman."
With the forthcoming seventh season of Parks and Recreation confirmed as its last, Poehler says she's interested in producing and directing more in the next phase of her professional life. In stepping out of character - hard for an actor to do and still harder for a comedian, she admits - she is coming into her own. In the meantime, she's already proved that it's possible to be wickedly funny and razor sharp without resorting to cruelty or cynicism.
Yes Please (Dey Street Books) is out now.