This is what it's like to sit at a restaurant table with Amy Poehler and Adam Scott during the after-party for "A.C.O.D" (which stands for "Adult Children of Divorce"), the pair's well-received indie comedy that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.
It was a popular table. More than once, onlookers approached and tried to talk with Poehler and Scott. (I can only imagine this happens to them a lot.) One man, an employee at the restaurant, told Poehler that he'd worked with her at another restaurant, in Chicago, circa 1994 -- long before Amy Poehler became Amy Poehler. Poehler recognized her former co-worker immediately, even though she hadn't seen him in 19 years.
Poehler and Scott, who star on "Parks and Recreation" as the newly engaged Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt, enjoy an easy rapport with one another. (Their timing was so impeccable that Poehler almost had me believing "A.C.O.D." co-writer Ben Karlin spent time on "The Smothers Brothers Show," even though that program went off the air five years before he was born.) In fact, I wound up feeling a bit like a third wheel -- not that it mattered.
Amy Poehler: Mike, this is a red wine left over from another interview.
Mike Ryan: Should I drink this?
Poehler: It's an interesting personality test that we're doing, because some people don't want to drink it and other people are like, "Why not?"
I want to drink it, but I don't want to get germs if other people have drunk from this glass. There's a flu going around.
Poehler: There's no right or wrong answer about how you feel about the red wine.
Adam Scott: What is it that you said about germs?
I'm wondering if other people have been drinking out of this glass.
Poehler: That's interesting. Do you think they have been drinking out of it?
I really don't know. Have lips touched this glass?
Scott: That's enough. [Poehler erupts in laughter.] Sorry.
I'm not trained to accept Amy Poehler as Adam Scott's stepmother, as we see in this movie.
Poehler: I basically just wanted ... I want to work with Adam all the time on anything -- so it was an excuse to get to work with him again. But maybe it's hard to accept that. I'm two years older than Adam ...
Scott: No you're not. You're one year older.
Poehler: I'm 41.
Scott: Yeah, but then I turn 40.
Poehler: So I'm a year older. In a scene he's like, "You're a year older than me." And I'm like, "Congratulations." My point being ... what is my point?
Scott: That it's kind of a joke.
For fans of "Parks and Recreation," is this a "wink wink"?
Scott: Well, I don't know about that.
Poehler: We didn't try to do that. I mean, it's nice to play someone who is not especially likable. Leslie Knope is so, like, everyman. And it was nice to play someone who didn't really give a shit about anybody. And was not apologetic in any way.
Before the premiere, the director, Stuart Zicherman, mentioned that he doesn't know how he got such a good cast for his first feature film ...
Poehler: I'm going to say this to the HuffPo. This is why they got the cast: everybody loves Adam and wants to work with him. No, for real!
I don't doubt this.
Poehler: Everyone knew he would be a great leading man and be able to carry this movie.
So Adam signed on first.
Poehler: Yes, everyone knew he would be doing it. And Catherine O'Hara and Richard Jenkins love Adam. And he's a great actor and knows what's good because he's talented. So the reason that the movie came together is because of the fact that Adam was the lead.
Scott: That's very nice, but I think ...
Poehler: It's true! And Stu and Ben ... Ben Karlin, as you know, has a great comedy pedigree from his years on -- I think he worked on "The Smothers Brothers" and...
Scott: And "The Merv Griffin Show."
Poehler: And "The Merv Griffin Show," yes. [Laughs]
You're a busy guy being on a popular television show. Were you at all hesitant to work with a first-time director, considering that you probably have to pick your movie projects carefully for time reasons. I mean, the director of "Friends With Kids," your last movie, Jennifer Westfeldt, has a lot of experience.
Scott: Right. Well, for me to get a lead role in a real movie is something to jump at. it's not like I get to do that all of the time.
That's changing though, right?
Poehler: Yeah. For sure.
Scott: Well, that would be great, but, you know, it was more of a, "Wow, this is a great script. I definitely would love to do that." It wasn't like, "I don't know about this one. Maybe this one." It was quite a while before we shot, but I tried to jump on it as quickly as I could because I thought it was a great script. What I'm trying to say is that it's not like I have a plethora of things to choose from and I just try to make the right career move. I mean, I'm not really there yet.
Poehler: I do want everyone to know that Adam turned down "Silver Linings Playbook." He turned down Russell Crowe's part in "Les Mis." And he turned down the kid in "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
[Max, an employee of the restaurant, approaches Amy Poehler.]
Max: It's Max, from Carlucci's ...
Poehler: Oh my God! Oh my God! Good to see you!
Max: Yeah. You, too.
Poehler: We're doing this interview, but are you here?
Max: I'm downstairs at the bar.
Poehler: OK, I'm going to come find you, Max. We have to catch up, man! [To me:] Sorry, Max and I worked together 15 years ago. [To Max:] No way! What a blast from the past! It's so good to see you. [To me:] We worked at a restaurant in Chicago in '97. No ... 1994. Yeah, 1994.
What was Amy Poehler like in 1994, Max?
Poehler: Yeah! What was I like?
Max: Oh, she had five roommates and lived next to the "L."
Poehler: Wait, what?
Max: Didn't you live by the "L" over by Armitage?
Poehler: Yeah, on Armitage, yeah. Did you come to my apartment one night? Maybe?
Max: Yeah, we were all drinking at Tequila Roadhouse or something.
Poehler: Yeah, we all were. [To me:] We used to work at a place called Carlucci's that's no longer around in Chicago.
Max: It's an Abercrombie & Fitch now.
Scott: Oh, weird.
Poehler: It was in the mid-'90s, or whatever. We were making so much money ...
Max: We killed it there.
Poehler: Everyone was doing coke. I didn't know it -- I was so naive.
Max: Well, come down and get a drink later.
Poehler: Right on! I will.
That was a fun reunion.
Poehler: He is the nicest guy. He used to run the valet stand at the restaurant I once worked at -- where I once served Oprah as a waitress.
Scott: Is that the first time you had seen him since?
Poehler: Yeah! He looks exactly the same. I remember one guy got mad at me and drunk one night, he threw a dessert at me and Max pulled him out.
Poehler: She was at the restaurant.
It's loud in here, I thought you said you were on her show as a waitress.
Poehler: [Laughs.] Yeah, yeah -- I went on Oprah. At the time she was giving her staff diamond earrings at the table. Anyway, back to Adam's career.
The last time I spoke to Adam, he came very close to comparing himself to the Sonic Youth of actors. You stopped yourself.
Scott: No. I remember this. I think it ended up sounding really lame, but I think what I was trying to do is say that I've been around for a long time. And I had never really achieved a big ... I think I was trying [laughs] to make a modest analogy and it ended up sounding really stupid.
You cut yourself off mid-sentence and said, "Fuck that."
Scott: OK, good.
Poehler: That's very smart.
Scott: That would have been a really bad move.
Poehler: Did that make sense to you? Because when Adam talks it sounds like industrial noise.
What does that mean?
Poehler: Like atonal industrial noise.
Scott: It's like a factory where something's broken.
Poehler: Like Sonic Youth.
There's a nice reference about Adam's hair in this movie. That should be in your rider for every movie that you're in.
Scott: [Laughs.] A reference to my hair? You know what? That's a really good idea and I'm going to put that in there.
I always liked "Parks and Recreation" from the beginning. But when Adam and Rob Lowe joined the cast, it hit another gear.
Poehler: Forget it.
I'm curious if Amy thinks there was a definite tonal change in the show.
Poehler: Well, our first six episodes were basically a pilot. We shot them all at once. Our season one was six episodes. So, everyone is like, "I didn't like season one." And I'm like, "Well, it was six episodes and we were trying to work it out."
The first season of "The Office" isn't that great, but it really hit its stride its second season.
Poehler: Yeah, there's often a little bit of growing pains. Although, I'm frankly very proud of those episodes.
Scott: I really like those episodes.
Poehler: Especially episodes five and six.
[A man and a woman approach Poehler and Scott, the man says, "I'm sorry to interrupt your dinner." Then the man continues on about how he met Poehler at a bar "a few years back." The woman says that she works for a Chinese media company and asks for an interview. Poehler graciously explains that she's already in the middle of an interview.]
I don't know about that one, but I wasn't about to interrupt your reunion with your friend from Chicago.
Poehler: Let me tell you something: I hired four of five people to come to this table during this interview.
Scott: And you picked out all of their wardrobe and that guy's red glasses.
Poehler: There are three more people coming.
Scott: It's going to get way weirder.
I wish someone that I knew would walk by and talk to me.
Poehler: I know. I know. That'll happen! That'll happen. You just stay here.
Poehler: Oh! But, for real, I want to answer this question. When Adam and Rob came on the show, it was like everything honestly felt it had fallen into place -- like they had always been there.
Scott: Yeah, but that whole season leading up to us -- because we came in at the very end of season two -- and that whole season is incredible.
And Chris Pratt's character changed a lot that season, too.
Poehler: Well, Chris Pratt, out of everyone on the whole show, Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza's journeys are, by far, the biggest. So, whenever the show ends -- which I hope will be 10 or 15 years from now -- they will have changed by far the most.
Scott: They're going to be co-president of the United States. You know, I watched "The Master Plan" again recently -- the whole thing. Have you watched it in a while? The first one that Rob and I were on?
Poehler: Yeah, I haven't watched it in a long time.
Scott: You should watch it.
What did you like about watching it again?
Scott: It was just the very first episode with our very first scenes together and there are hints about things to come.
Poehler: Oh, really?
Scott: There are little things that, a year and a half later, are woven back into the story.
You did a great job co-hosting the Golden Globes.
Scott: Didn't she?
Poehler: Thank you.
I do feel that you may have been taken off the short list for "Avatar 2."
Poehler: [Laughs.] Perhaps! Perhaps.
Not just with the James Cameron joke, but anytime you do a joke like that, can there be repercussion? Or do people take that in stride?
Poehler: I hope so. There was nothing in that moment that we walked away from feeling bad about. There was never a moment that we walked away going, "Was that too ... " You know, we vetted our own jokes with each other. Tina and I have had a lot of experience doing those kind of jokes, so we know when things feel too "something." That room was a special kind of room, so we had to think about how to play to that room. So, we didn't regret anything that we had said or felt like we were coming in a weird way. And if it's funny, you can get away with a lot, hopefully.
Scott: And I was saying before, James Cameron ... even he has to appreciate what a beautifully crafted joke that was.
Poehler: Written by a gentleman named Sam Means -- a writer for "30 Rock." He wrote that joke.
I'm assuming there was no hesitation when you heard that joke.
Poehler: Oh, no. It's a great joke.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.