03.31.14 9:45 AM ET
Comedy’s R-Rated Queen Amy Schumer Is Raunchier Than Ever
The Inside Amy Schumer star wants you to laugh, as long as you’re ready for jokes about sexually active tweens.
Amy Schumer knows you're expecting her to top herself. She's prepared to deliver, providing you’re prepared for her to make jokes about tweens "finger blasting" each other.
Schumer's baby, the Comedy Central sketch series Inside Amy Schumer, served as the vehicle the 32-year-old raunchy writer-actress-standup-comedian rode to breakout-star status last year, when it became the typically male-driven network's highest-rated new series. Showing off a unique perspective that’s less interested in the usual shock value of a woman saying something dirty, and more in delivering acute observations about the insecurities that go along with being a (strong, sexual, smart, and maybe a little messy) woman, Inside Amy Schumer made waves by proving that there's a place for woman on Comedy Central, too.
When we spoke at the end of her show's stand-out first season run last year, I asked Schumer if she thought she was making a point about women and their place in comedy with her show. She told me, "Do I want women to watch and I am sending a message? My instinct is a little bit to whisper 'yes.' That doesn't seem like something you'd have to whisper, but it really is." Now, speaking in advance of her show's second season premiere this Tuesday, Schumer seemed more than happy to state things with confidence. "This season definitely has a stronger point of view," she tells me. "I'm saying some things, and I'm saying them with more confidence."
That should excite anyone who relished in last year's standout sketches, be it "P.O.V. Porn," which shows a sex tape from the female point of view, and how unsexy and awkward it is. Or a bit in which a girl, after a magical night with who she thinks is "the one," starts sampling wedding cakes and choosing adjoining burial plots, while the guy can't even remember her name. What's in store for this year, then? The aforementioned "finger blasting" sketch, for one, which needs to be seen to be believed, and another in which she tries to pay her way out of her herpes—complete with some hard negotiations with God himself, played by Paul Giamatti.
And if there was any doubt that the success of Season 1 didn't raise Schumer's star quotient, she's also in the casting process for Trainwreck, the R-rated comedy she wrote and will star in…and will be directed by a certain comedy kingmaker by the name of Judd Apatow.
With all this going on, we chatted with Schumer about the pressure to live up to the hype, her ever-evolving (and ever-sharpening) comedic point of view, and—because she brought it up herself—whether her breasts are real.
Everything OK? You seem out of breath.
I just walked up one flight of stairs and I’m, like, breathing heavy. Perfect.
Oh trust me, I get it. But anyway, I've been following you on Instagram and I can tell just from that how much you've been touring lately.
It’s so great, because you don’t have to fill anybody in on what you’re doing. They’re just like “How was wherever?” And you’re like, "Oh yeah! It was good."
So this is the question you’ve been asked by so many different journalists…
Ha! That’s not quite it.
No one’s ever asked me that in my entire life, by the way.
Really? Well that’s a much more interesting question. I was going to ask what kind of pressure is there on you for doing a second season of a show that was as successful as the first season of Inside Amy Schumer?
I would say the first time we were in the writer’s room again was a crippling fear and self doubt. I filmed an episode of Girls this season and I was on set and I asked Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, I was just like, “Hey when you guys did your second season…” and they were like, “Yeah. We thought we were gonna die. But then you do it and you’re like, ‘Oh, ok.’” So that encouraged me. And then when we were in the writer’s room again and people were running great ideas I felt a little more confident.
So there were some sophomore slump nerves?
I was so proud of the first season so there was this fear over whether we could do it again. Every standup is like, “I think I’m out. I think I’m out of stuff.” And then you do it, and you end up liking that stuff more than anything you’ve done before. So I think this season, it wasn’t until we were shooting that I felt like, "Oh shit, this season is going to be even better than the first season." And then after editing it I’m so excited for people to see it.
Has anything changed, as far as your point of view or the kind of comedy you’re showing? Has anything developed between seasons?
Yeah, a little bit. I like comedy about how people just behave. Last season there was some focus on that. I think I was making a few less statements last season than I am this season. I think this season has a stronger point of view. It’s like going back to college sophomore year. You’re more confident. You know how things work. You feel stronger. I think absolutely anybody who liked the first season would love the first season. It definitely seems like the first season’s older sister.
You said it has a stronger point of view. What is that point of view?
That’s hard. It’s just having something to say. It’s hard to make a generalization for what I’m saying the whole season, but I feel like there’s a lot of different things—I'm saying some things and I'm saying them with more confidence behind them. So you’ll watch a scene and hopefully think it’s really funny and hopefully it will also point out some social injustice. But when I say point of view, I mean just pointing out more things that really just piss us off, that we think are unfair, or that we know we’re guilty of and feel gross about it. And, as a comedian, I would say the same thing about how I've grown. I wouldn’t say I used to hide behind my stage character at all, but I’m relying far, far less on a persona. It’s way more personal, my stand up, and I think that really translates to the show, also.
So the sketch that opens the season, where a group of men are in a focus group to analyze the writing of your show's first season but instead just comment on whether they think you're hot, that's part of "saying something," right? Maybe commenting on how so much coverage of your show's first season was about the fact that you were a woman?
That’s good to hear. Because I was like, “I hope people think that.” I felt like it was a really strong sketch and starting with it definitely was on purpose. And that’s a good example. It is saying something. That scene is definitely saying something.
Already though, reading some of the early stuff coming out about your new season, people are still harping about the fact that your show is successful on Comedy Central, but "even though you’re a woman." How do you feel about the fact that the qualification is still there?
That specific thing doesn’t bother me. Because that’s more just the demographic of networks. But on Twitter or real life, people saying to me, “You are the funniest girl I’ve ever seen,” or “Oh my god I didn’t like female comics until I saw you”—that kind of thing annoys me. I don’t think it needs that qualifier. When people stop me and go, “You’re my favorite female comic,” I’ll go, “Oh, who’s your favorite male comic?” It’s like, they don’t even have a favorite male comic, some of these people. But they still need the qualifier of “female.” And a lot of people who will write stuff or stop me and go, “I never usually like female comics,” and I’ll ask whose stand up they’ve seen that they didn’t like or whose shows they’ve gone to, and nine times out of 10, they’re like, “Oh I’ve never seen one before. It’s like, OK. But I think it’s just something that gets into people’s head. So people being surprised about how well did it on that network, that makes sense to me. But people being surprised that a woman is making them laugh, in general, is the thing I’m over.
A few weeks ago Lena Dunham hosted SNL and it did a funny bit about how because she’s so frank about sex people often come up to her and give her unsolicited sex stories. I imagine some variation of that must happen to you, given the things you talk about on your show.
First of all, when I saw that I thought this is so funny. And I’ve been guilty of that with her, for sure. She’s a friend now, but still… I think people have definitely felt that way with me. And I feel that way also. I met Gloria Steinem at this event we did it together, and I went to talk to her and was like, “Um, Miss Steinem…” It was such a big moment for me, but then I was like, ugh, this poor woman. She’s at this event and she just wants to hang out. I’m sure she has girls coming up all the time and projecting so much on to her. I know I’ve done that. With me, people they over share a little bit. It’s really not that bad. They mostly just want to get drunk with me.
Let’s talk about the movie. Everyone’s really excited and intrigued. Judd Apatow’s involvement immediately does that. When you get call from him that he wants to do this, what is that like?
The way it happened was that Judd heard me on Stern years ago. He really kind of keeps his finger on the pulse of who’s doing standup. He’s met with a good amount of my peers and people who are on a similar level to me. He just likes helping you creating and he wants to help move people along. So we just had a general meeting. He heard me on Stern and liked my standup and just wanted to meet. So we meet and kind of talked a little bit. Talked about comedy, and then he was like, "Oh, well you know if you ever have an idea…” And I was like, “Well I do have an idea!” So I told him this idea for a movie, and he was like, “Huh. That’s good.” It was good enough that he encouraged me to write it.
And then…you did?
Yeah. He sort of taught me how to go about writing a screenplay and held my hand through it. So for a couple years, I wrote the script. And was like “meh.” Then this past summer, around May of last year, I started over and was writing about the beats of it and landed on the idea and just wrote it. Spewed this draft out. Through the whole thing, I just kept being like, “I know this is going to go away. There’s no way. It’s all cool and I won’t regret even just having this much of working with him.”
But it never went away!
Right!? I would say the moment that I got to have a “holy shit” moment, because eventually it did really seem like it was going to be made and he was going to produce it, was when he called me on one of my last days of filming this season of my TV show. I had to tell my asstistant director, “I need a minute.” And he was like, “Are you fucking kidding me? You know what we shoot this TV show for, like, $10. Time is money.” But I was just like ‘I think I need to talk to him right now.” So I went outside and Judd was like, “I’m going to direct this movie.” And I was just like, holy shit. Because knew that meant a whole different thing. It felt like a big deal.
People seem to be verrrry excited about the idea of the two of you working together.
Thank you! I was watching a 30 for 30, that ESPN show. It was about Jimmy Connors. I love going to the U.S. Open for some reason, I go whenever I can. When he was at the U.S. Open and there were so many different matches, or whatever, and he gets the fan so riled up. So everyone was in it with him. I feel like that now I'm on the road and have the movie and things like that—with Last Comic Standing, some people have been sort of watching me for years and helping me all along the whole time.
Someone in that 30 for 30 interview said that everyone in that stadium helped him win, and I feel like that about people’s encouraging me along. Whether it’s like Conan O’Brien or just a crowd in Indianapolis. I feel like people have been encouraging me and pushing me along. I’m curious about how to feel about that, but don’t you feel like, “Oh, one of us.”? Like, “Good for her.” Like, “We know this girl.”? Or am I totally projecting?
No! Not at all. I think that's definitely a vibe that's out there.
Like, “She compared herself to a tennis player.” How silly. But yeah. I feel like I know that’s how it is. I’ve been working so fucking hard. Conan, after I filmed his show the first time, he came back to the dressing room and was like, “I’m back here because I want to keep encouraging you to do this.” And I did Ellen in like 2007, and she was the same way. I could feel these people really encouraging me in a genuine way. People just really pulling me along. So this feels, like, so big for me. And I really want to deliver for those people who have been watching me.
Are you happy with the script? Do you feel like it will deliver?
Yeah! I just finished the latest draft on the plane. I’ve probably written about 16 drafts. And it’s come closer every time, but this time feels really close. I think it’s going to be really great. That may sound stupid, because, you know, it’s my first movie that I’ve ever written or had a big role in. But I don’t know. I just believe that people are going to love it.
I know that it’s called Trainwreck. But I can’t find a good plot description.
I don’t know, again because I’ve never done this before, what I’m supposed to do and what I’m supposed to say. But what I know and what I heard Judd say, and it’s true, is that it’s a very R-rated comedy. Bill Hader plays my love interest. Brie Larson is my sister.
So happy about that.
She is the greatest human being. It’s very reflective of my point of view and my life. Yeah. Just kind of, like, how “it” isn’t cute anymore at a certain point. That moment when the behavior and the defense mechanisms you use to move you along start to hurt you.