By Leslie Hassanein, news staff
Comedian and actress Amy Poehler came to Matthews Arena Thursday night as Northeastern’s Homecoming 2016 headliner. For an event that many students expected to be lighthearted and comedic, Poehler took on a more serious tone, explaining she could not be funny following the victory of Republican candidate Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
“I’m really depressed,” said Poehler, who was dressed in all black. “It’s really nice to be around young people who are trying to change the world.”
Poehler’s onstage interview with WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti mostly focused on the election, but covered a wide range of topics including Poehler’s personal life, her future as an actress and whether or not a hotdog is a sandwich (which Poehler adamantly declared it was not).
Poehler is best known for her years on “Saturday Night Live,” where she famously imitated Hillary Clinton when she first ran for president in 2008, as well as her role as Leslie Knope in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Poehler is also an executive producer of the Comedy Central sitcom “Broad City” and author of the memoir “Yes Please.”
Drawing the conversation back to politics, Poehler said no one she had spoken to could find the positive side of the election result, so she asked the audience of over 4,000 people for advice.
“Can you cheer me up?” Poehler asked the students in the crowd. “We need you young people right now. What do we do?”
Students offered suggestions ranging from loving one another and giving out hugs to eating ice cream and smoking marijuana, which Massachusetts voted to legalize for recreational use on the 2016 ballot.
Despite her sadder moments, Poehler offered positive advice, telling college students to surround themselves with people who make them feel good. She also expressed her gratitude for the country’s youth.
“It’s the young people who know best,” said Poehler. “You guys are constantly growing and changing, trying to make things better. I really respect you.”
“An Evening with Amy Poehler” was sponsored by the Council of University Programs, the Student Alumni Association (SAA) and the Homecoming Committee.
“We made a survey and asked a variety of focus groups around campus to see what kind of show and speaker people wanted to come for Homecoming,” said SAA President Korrinne Ivey. “We wrote [Poehler] a personalized letter and sent it to her management team, talking about how much we admired her and how lucky Northeastern would be to have a Boston local come speak to our students.”
Poehler maintains close ties with the Boston area. She is originally from Burlington, Massachusetts and graduated from Boston College in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Her parents even had their second date at a Northeastern hockey game in Matthews Arena, Poehler told the audience.
After the event, students said they were thankful for Poehler’s focus on the election.
“I really enjoyed her conversation,” said Nathan Worob, a sophomore political science major. “It was a nice, relatable breath of fresh air in a cloud of uncertainty and fear. Having such a humorous and amazing individual at our school really helped us find laughter and good talk when it was absolutely needed.”
Jack Halliwell, a sophomore combined political science and psychology major, said the event was exactly what he and many other Northeastern students needed after a long week.
“I think Amy [Poehler] is honestly just an endlessly funny person,” Halliwell said. “It was great that she addressed the results of the election in a serious way but also got us to laugh a bit about it in the end and turned to us as young people for some hope.”
Photo courtesy David Shankbone, Creative Commons