Say More with Dr? Sheila: Amy Poehler’s podcast is one of the funniest I’ve listened to in a long time

Podcast review: In the words of the inimitable Dr? Sheila – ‘focus on yourself, don’t worry about my credentials’ – this is beautiful work

“My role as a therapist is of course to judge,” says Dr Sheila. Wait. For legal reasons, I have to refer to her as Dr? Sheila, with a question mark and the requisite rising intonation. On she goes: “All I ask of [my patients] is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help them me. Welcome to Say More.”

Say More with Dr? Sheila is a brand new podcast, where Dr? Sheila records and reflects on her couples therapy sessions. Her patients come with problems ranging from infidelity to codependency to addiction. The only through line? Dr? Sheila is truly, truly awful at her job. Which is probably because Dr? Sheila is a character created and played by American comedian Amy Poehler, and her “couples” are fellow actors – Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, Chris Parnell, Jason Mantzoukas among them – who join her in improvising one of the funniest podcasts I’ve listened to in a very long time.

The first episode, Suspected Infidelity (released September 23rd), with Ryan and Beth presenting to discuss Ryan’s titular suspected infidelity. Dr? Sheila to the rescue. As Ryan holds himself back from “speaking for Beth” the “doctor” immediately offers: “I think it’s important for partners to speak for each other.” Her therapeutic advice is for Ryan to pretend – just for a moment – the accusations are true, and tell Beth all the things he would have done were he unfaithful. Cue a detailed description from Ryan of a level of such wild and debauched infidelity that it eclipses his wife’s piffling suspicions that he’d been sleeping with his assistant.

Dr? Sheila’s platitudinous interjections of “beautiful work” while Ryan describes an orgiastic bacchanal he pauses to take a FaceTime with his children is truly snort-laugh material. Then she turns the tables on Beth to play out the hypothetical. Beth’s deep dive into the list of irritatingly practical things that would have to happen were it all true – we’re talking rebooking kids’ summer camps, doctor check-ups for STDs, yada yada – leads her to wisely decide that in fact her husband is as constant as his handsome paychecks. Kudos, Dr? Sheila.


Dammit, I’m doing that thing. I’m recounting a comedic moment that I found hilarious and you likely cannot because I’m not Amy Poehler in my delivery. You’ll have to take it on trust: Say More is so well executed, the language of therapy so closely mimicked, Dr? Sheila’s methods so blatantly contrary to any code of conduct or even sense, that it makes for crackling comedy. So much so that the guests themselves can’t help but break character when somebody takes the “yes, and” up a notch, and you can actually hear in their voices the smiles they are trying desperately to suppress.

Poehler takes the concept all the way: her host-read ads are all as Dr? Sheila, and as each episode closes she finds a new and patronising excuse for her producer Liz to read the credits while also keeping Dr? Sheila’s life on track with a pandering “my producer Liz, everyone, simply the best” so perfectly pitched that anyone who has ever worked for a self-serving narcissist will give a little shiver of post-traumatic recognition.

From the opening song, which includes the lyrics “focus on yourself, don’t worry about my credentials” to the post-sketch snippets of the actors cracking up, Say More’s 25-ish minute episodes are a delight. Knowing that they are largely improvised, and that each of those involved have a limited knowledge about where the episode will take them, lends it a freshness that’s funnier still.

Credit to Poehler and the podcast arm of Paper Kite, her production company: Say More is both winningly underscripted and skilfully edited, and it made me laugh out loud. In the words of the inimitable Dr? Sheila: it’s beautiful, beautiful work.

Fiona McCann

Fiona McCann, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer, journalist and cohost of the We Can’t Print This podcast