Greg (the Other Poehler) Talks Comedy Foray, Comparisons to Sister Amy

The "Welcome to Sweden" star tells THR about his new series and working with his funny family: "I’ve never acted before. She’s been doing it for 20-something years. Cut me some slack."
Greg Poehler in "Welcome to Sweden"

Greg Poehler may be following in his sister Amy's footsteps, but the comparisons are unwelcome.

"It’s so unfair to compare the two of us," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I’ve never acted before. She’s been doing it for 20-something years. Cut me some slack. I should be graded on a curve."

He's reacting to critics who say he's not as funny as his sister in his initial foray into television in NBC's Welcome to Sweden, a semi-autobiographical comedy about an American that moves to the Scandinavian country for love.

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But as the series' star and writer, Poehler claims he isn't trying to be funny. "The role I wrote for myself is very much a reactor. He’s not comedic, per se. He’s letting other people be comedic around him," — namely, people like his sister Amy and friend Will Ferrell, who both make amusing appearances throughout the season.

Poehler intentionally set out to make his alter ego Bruce Evans and onscreen wife Emma Wiik (Josephine Bornebusch, the only married woman to audition) be characters the audience could relate to, not "too funny, too over-the-top and too sketchy," to the point where viewers would lose the emotional attachment.

He adds to the naysayers: "You don’t know how funny I am." 

In an effort to make Sweden more humorous, Poehler chose to deviate from his real-life story at times, embellishing actual events for comedy's sake. For example, in the show, his girlfriend's parents are much meaner than the supportive real-life ones, and Poehler made himself a celebrity money manager in his former life, rather than the intellectual property lawyer he actually was.

"You know how far the legal profession has fallen when people view show business as a more honorable profession," he jokes of his vocational U-turn.

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Poehler began his comedy career when he was pushed — literally, onto a stage at a club in Stockholm — into standup in Sweden, where his sister is much less famous. "It was nice to have that clean slate," he acknowledges.

His transition into the comedy world is one that continues to surprise him by its smoothness, something he credits to having his sister's name attached to the project (she's an executive producer.)

But he still feels a need to prove his own comedic talent: "I got into the party maybe because of her, but now she’s gone and I’m drinking by myself at the bar."