Q&A: There's no toning down Amy Schumer 

Taming of the Schumer

click to enlarge schumer.jpg


In my experience as a 30-something straight woman, girl crushes are worse than boy crushes. Sure, I've suffered from all the unfortunate boy-crush side effects — uncontrollable perspiration, Tourettes-like outbursts, hive levels of blushing, etc. But nothing compares to the bizarre reactions my body and brain undergo when I'm about to talk to a smart, savvy, and shatteringly hilarious woman. My stomach hurts, my eyes keep crossing, my scalp is sweaty, but my feet are cold. I want to puke and chug a High Life all at once. So you can imagine how I felt last week moments before my interview with Amy Schumer. Is consta-plectic a thing? Because I think I had that. But can you blame me? I mean this was Amy Motherfucking Schumer, comedy's crowned queen of catching a D.

The star and writer of Inside Amy Schumer and Trainwreck, a Peabody and Emmy winner, Schumer is the hottest act in comedy right now. We're talking flame thrower hot. I mean, she's like burns when you pee hot. OK, maybe not that hot, but close. Real close.

Which is to say, I was nervous.

I think I speak for a lot of sarcastic women when I say, Schumer is who we want to be, a lady who can rock a three-inch heel while making jokes about UTIs. And, in the same way Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are using comedy to forward feminism, Schumer is slaying stereotypes. Take, for instance, her Inside Amy Schumer sketch "Reasonable Chub." In it, a boardroom of men analyze a photo of Schumer deliberating over whether she's attractive enough to give a guy a boner.

"Do we really need to look at her again? She's built like a lineman and has Cabbage Patch like features. Her ass makes me furious!" says a livid Paul Giamatti staring at Schumer's photo. The camera pans to Vincent Kartheiser, better known as Pete Campbell on Mad Men; he searches the room then confesses that Schumer might be hot enough — if he was drunk, to which Giamatti screams, "Why can't we have Marilyn Monroe back?"

"Do you know what size Monroe was?" another man retorts. "She was an 8. Do you know what size Amy is? She's a 6."

Need I say more?

With all that in mind, I watched the clock tick toward noon last Monday, the designated hour of my phone interview with the star. I'd been told I'd have 10 minutes with Schumer. I was just reviewing my list of 30-some questions for the 532nd time when the phone rang — and there she was.

City Paper: I was going to coffee the other day and I bumped into a friend and I realized we have a mutual acquaintance, playwright David Lee Nelson.

Amy Schumer: I knew you were going to say that because I think he's my only Charleston connection.

CP: I saw him and he was like, "So I hear you're interviewing Amy." And I was like, "Yeah, she's great. What do you think about her?" And he was like, "Well, I lived with her for two years."

AS: How did he hear you were interviewing me.

CP: We're friends and I was a little excited so I posted on Facebook that I was gonna interview you. So he had seen that. He said, "Amy was my friend that my wife got in the divorce."

AS: That's correct. That is correct. He lost me in the divorce. You know, he really introduced me to Charleston. My brother actually used to live down there for a while. He's a jazz musician.

CP: Your brother lived in Charleston?

AS: Yeah. My sister and I, we drove down from New York to Charleston and spent a couple weeks there once with him. But then David took me. I did a show for Piccolo Spoleto — we did this show 12 years ago — and I just fell so in love with it there. We would go to Clara's Coffee every day, which I know is closed now. We'd go and play chess, and drink coffee all day. I just could not have loved it more. My brother loved it, so I'm really excited to get to come there.

click to enlarge On Inside Amy Schumer the comedian calls out stereotypes in "Milk Milk Lemonade" (below) and "Most Interesting Woman" (above) - COMEDY CENTRAL
  • Comedy Central
  • On Inside Amy Schumer the comedian calls out stereotypes in "Milk Milk Lemonade" (below) and "Most Interesting Woman" (above)

CP: I hope you'll have some time to hang out. It's funny you mention Piccolo. I found our review of your show from that online.

AS: That's so cool. How'd it go?

CP: It says, "Tripping mushrooms in the Anne Frank house, as well as her conversion to Judaism through her mother's fourth marriage. She warns against the dangers of getting drunk, post-separation, as there's the chance that you may get depressed and desperate and end up dating someone who goes tanning. All her stuff is delivered in a killer little off-handed manner that really brings the jokes home."

AS: Aww, how nice.

CP: But obviously you've skyrocketed from Piccolo to being internationally known.

AS: I'd still love to do Piccolo though.

CP: Please do!

AS: (Laughing) I'm internationally known, yes, that is true. Not really.

CP: You've been on a huge trajectory in 10 years and I was reading all this stuff written about you and I kept finding the word "overshare" used to describe your work, but it's hilarious because I never see that term applied to male comics.

AS: Ha, good point. No, of course not. We're just so lucky to get to hear their angelic voices.

CP: Do you feel like audiences are starting to adjust to hearing female comics just say whatever the hell they want?

AS: I can only speak sort of to my experience. My best friends are female comics and it's like some weeks — my best friends are Rachel [Feinstein] and Bridget [Everett], and Nikki Glaser — Rachel will be like, "The audience tonight just stared at me like I was this rancid confusing presence" and then other nights ... we all still bomb. My experience is like, people, when they come see me now, they know who they're going to see. They're not like, "We wanted to see a comedy show and there's this girl." They know. I'm feeling it more in positive ways from women and men. It's almost therapeutic for them to hear someone speaking real honestly. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back for that. I think something is literally wrong with me. I have to say whatever. If you broke down the term of what oversharing really means, it would apply to me. But it definitely also applies to male comics. I feel a much greater ease with the audiences, and I don't feel any resistance from them.

"I don't want it to be like ice cream. I don't want to only have it like once every couple of weeks. I want one that I can visit frequently and not get some sort of infection where I have to take a pill."

CP: So I texted my girlfriends and I was like, "Listen, I get to talk to Amy Schumer. What would you like me to ask her?" I have to say some of the questions were wildly inappropriate.

AS: Oh great. I can't wait.

CP: OK. So the very first thing my friend asked is, "Can you ask Amy what her ideal penis is?"

AS: That's fair.

CP: OK. If you're willing to take it.

AS: If you're willing to take it?! I can't believe you worked that in.

CP: Ha! I didn't mean to say that.

AS: My ideal penis is attached to my boyfriend. I'm not just saying that. It's really about a guy's confidence. I've had pretty good sex with guys who aren't hung like rhinos. A penis doesn't have to be huge. I don't want a huge penis, personally. It's just too much. I don't want it to be like ice cream. I don't want to only have it like once every couple of weeks. I want one that I can visit frequently and not get some sort of infection where I have to take a pill. Short answer: reasonably sized.

CP: Not to segue directly into your boyfriend, but you did mention him. I was wondering, you've long talked about the foibles of dating and sex and relationships and now you're in a relationship that you fully made public. Does it change how you approach those topics?

AS: Well, first I would like to say, I didn't mean to make it go public. The way it came out was I was at the White House and I was really proud and with my family —

CP: As you should be.

AS: And we took a picture for Instagram and I wrote "With fam and man at the White House." And I was on a flight and when we landed, it was like viral entertainment news.

CP: Oh my god.

AS: I was like "Ohh, OK." And we had talked about it a little bit, coming out, but I had no idea it was going to be such a giant thing. It was like a slow news day I guess. I wasn't like, "Let's come out today, babe." It just kind of happened. It terms of how it changes me on stage, well, I'm someone who, you know we've been together about six months. We live together. It's me. I have not changed at all. My stories are now about how I used to black out and now when I black out, there's someone next to me that I'm held accountable by. It's talking about, instead of being single, it's about being in a new relationship. I have to talk about what's going on with me right now. I definitely don't tone anything down. I always check though, like, "Is this OK?" He's like "Yeah, totally." Family is cool with it. He couldn't be cooler about it.

CP: He's obviously the right kind of guy to be with.

AS: Yeah.

"You have to be this genteel, virginal Southern belle, but you need to be able to love barbecue and be able to drink with the guys and know about sports — again, huge generalization. It's too much."

CP: So if you don't mind another sort of weird question, again, this is from my friend Lindsay. If you could be a dude for a day, who would you pick and why?

AS: Which dude would I be?

CP: Yes.

AS: Oh, that's a great question. Who would I be? I think probably Sir Ian McKellan.

CP: Ha, OK.

AS: I just think he's sort of got life figured out. And I don't know what he does during the day. Maybe he doesn't do much of anything, that would be fine too. Just because I'd be so curious. Yeah, I think I'd want to be Sir Ian McKellan for the day.

CP: I did not see that one coming, but I like it.

AS: Or Bill Cosby and I'd just like turn myself in.

CP: Ha, perfect. One of my favorite parts of your Live at the Apollo special was when you were talking about seeing Kate Upton at a Lakers game and your guy friends being like, "She's actually really funny." And you were like, "Oh really? When is her one-hour comedy special?" Which made me think about Jennifer Lawrence who you've become friends with. She's pretty and I think she's funny, but I don't think she's hilarious ... so ...

AS: I hear you.

CP: I just have to ask about that friendship and where she falls as far as funny.

AS: I have to tell you, unfortunately she is totally hilarious.

CP: Is she really?

AS: Yeah, she really is. She has said a couple things, that I've said, "Can I use that?" And she's like, "Yeah, totally." Like, she is for real funny. She never makes a joke that I roll my eyes at. It's like, there are the people that I think are the funniest people in the world and I get to be friends with them, like Dave Attel, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld. I'm not saying she is just as funny as them. But she is right under that.

CP: Wow. She got the double whammy — looks and sense of humor.

AS: It's pretty annoying. You're like, what's the problem here? No, she's for real hilarious. And her life has it's own obstacles. I can hear you, though. I could totally see that. For me, I for real have no interest in being friends with famous people. Me becoming famous in the last couple of years, I'm someone who they're like, "Oh, it seems like it would be fun to be friends with her." I'm like, no. I have no openings for friendships. You're in your 30s, you get it. I don't have time. I don't want a new person who's mad I can't get coffee. It's also like we're very much the same. Like we bail on each other constantly.

CP: You hand select the smart, funny gals.

AS: For sure. You won't see me like only hanging out with famous people. But I like hanging out with comedians and really funny people and Jen is one of those people.

CP: Speaking of comedians, one of your most hilarious sketches is the "Believably Fuckable" sketch.

AS: "Last Fuckable Day"?

CP: Yes, excuse me, "Last Fuckable Day." It was one of those things I shared with my mom and she found it equally hilarious.

AS: Right? That was like a real generational thing.

CP: I was wondering, the line that Tina says, "They think your vagina is gonna turn into a hermit crab."

AS: Ha.

CP: The sketch is all about how women in Hollywood have a "best buy" date and after that they're no longer seen as being a believable love interest. Do you feel the weight of that as a performer?

AS: No, because I've never been that interested in being the romantic lead. I feel like, my sort of, my value does not — and I really believe this — my value does not come from how fuckable I am. Luckily. That's what's cool about writing stand-up. I don't think I'm going to age particularly well, and I don't think that's going to affect the crowd. If I just keep working hard and getting better at stand-up, that'll be good. I don't love being on camera. I love performing and l love live shows, but what I'm trading on isn't being the prettiest. So that's kind of lucky. There are so many actresses that are literally just wasting away trying to outdo each other and getting surgery. And they're still gonna age.

CP: There's no escaping it.

AS: It's so sad. And they have this little window. They're like an Olympian or an NFL player. You gotta really strike and you have to be the prettiest and the hottest and super talented. But I don't have those pressures on me. I'm not like wearing sunscreen hiding like a beekeeper. It doesn't matter if I start looking like a baseball glove.

CP: You just have to keep writing and doing your own stuff.

AS: And make sure I don't drink myself to death.

CP: I was wondering if you might have some advice for Charleston women then, specifically dating advice. Charleston has this, well I don't know if you noticed this when you were here, we have this bizarre unbalanced ratio of men to women. It feels like six women to every man. It sucks.

AS: Yes. You know what my real, from the bottom-of-my-heart advice would be for Charleston women would be?

CP: What?

AS: It would be to move.

CP: Ha. Get out?

AS: Fucking move. This is a huge generalization. But any pressure to be like genteel? It's the cool-girl concept, like the thing from Gone Girl. You have to be this genteel, virginal Southern belle, but you need to be able to love barbecue and be able to drink with the guys and know about sports — again, huge generalization. It's too much. And it's too competitive. Probably some guy who will be like — "you fit the perfect mold" — he's just gonna get tired of fucking you and trade you in for like, a smaller, younger Southern belle. So, move.

[Publicist chimes in and says Amy has to go]

CP: Thank you so much, Amy. Have a wonderful day.

AS: Thank you. Nice talking to you.

CP: [Hangs up phone. Blacks out.]


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