Making Comedy Grow

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LAUGHAmy Poehler is parlaying her successes in old media—seven years mocking mom jeans and impersonating Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live, seven more playing the irresistibly earnest Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation—into a second career as a new-media entrepreneur. Between acting gigs (she’ll contribute her voice to Pixar’s Inside Out in June, and star opposite Tina Fey in the December movie Sisters), she is taking an active role in bringing new talent to new audiences on new platforms. It was Poehler who boosted Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City from a tiny YouTube series to a cult hit on Comedy Central. This summer, she’ll introduce Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner to the digital-TV-watching world when the series Difficult People debuts on Hulu. While many creative people in Hollywood are floundering in the media seachange, Poehler is surfing—which is what she’s been doing her entire career. “It all goes back to improv,” she says. “You have to listen and stay in the moment. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

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