Why So Serious, Amy Schumer?By John Wenzel | April 27th, 2012 | No Comments »
Instead of getting into comedy at grimy open-mics in college, comedian Amy Schumer started in stand-up after moving to New York to launch an acting career — though certainly the two stage professions would seem to complement each other.
And she’s done well pretty friggin’ well for herself, being a veteran of shows like Adult Swim’s “Delocated” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as well as “Last Comic Standing” and the usual shock-jock radio and late-night talk shows. You may have also seen her flex her harshness on a little Comedy Central Roast last year of a certain insane actor who may or may not be named Charlie Sheen.
We caught up with Schumer in advance of her headlining dates at Comedy Works this weekend (April 27-28) to chat about her best and worst recent gigs, her TV roles and making Steve Carell laugh.
What’s your best and worst shows you can remember having recently?
I would say the best would be, I just got to do “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and the audience was so awesome. And my least favorite was when I had food poisoning. I was supposed to so do a show in Phoenix and was hospitalized and had to do a show in Vegas the next night.
Oh yeah, I actually read a review of that on TheSpitTake.com.
I was terrified I was going to start, let’s say, vacating, while I was on stage. It was definitely something. I can only just now say the words “crab cake.” Right after it happened I wouldn’t even say it. I “speak” sign language because my mom’s a therapist for the deaf, so I was signing it to my friends when I wanted to say it. Crab cakes are my Holocaust.
I saw that you were playing Bonnarroo this year too. Is that a first?
I did it a couple years ago so this is my second one. I love, love, love it. I love doing music festivals so I was excited to get the invite.
What do you love about it?
I feel like I’m a stowaway and there’s this little comedy sector, but we get treated like musicians so we get to run around backstage and see all our favorite bands. I’m really excited to see Santigold and Radiohead and Fitz and the Tantrums.
I love that you’re on the Adult Swim show “Delocated.” How has that been treating you?
That’s my favorite thing to get recognized for. It’s been the best experience and I’ve never laughed harder in my life than filming that. I think they’re the funniest people working, John Lee (“Wonder Showzen”) and (star) Jon Glaser, they’re sickest weirdos ever. I was shoe shopping and someone was like, “Do you play Trish on ‘Delocated’?” and I hugged them I was so excited. That’s how much I love that show.
What’s your role like in this upcoming Steve Carell movie, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”?
I just have like two or three scenes if they don’t cut one of them out, but I kind of play a deranged Stepford wife married to an older man. I ad-libbed a line and I made Steve Carell do a spit take — like, an actual spit take. I don’t know if that’ll make it in a movie but it was the best feeling in the world.
What was your first time on stage like as a comedian? How did you transition from acting to stand-up?
I didn’t have to get over stage fright so it wasn’t that hard of a transition. I’ve been acting the whole time and have been working consistently as an actor also, so I like that the two are so separate. I’ve been under the radar as an actress and I don’t mind that at all. I’ve never just gotten a role because I’m a comic. I’m still auditioning for things.
What made you want to come back after your first time doing stand-up?
Masochism. (The reaction) was good enough for me to come back and want to get better.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever felt bad laughing about?
Actually, it was probably the other night in the hospital. The woman in the room next to me was really sick and in a lot of pain and the nurses were kind of ignoring her, well not really, but there was nothing they could do. She was just making the worst noises you’ve ever heard, heaving and vomiting, and in between she was praying to Jesus. “Don’t turn your back on me, Lord!” It was so sad and awful that I was just laughing, which was also awful.
When is the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
That doesn’t happen that often but I’m so appreciative when it does. I travel with my best friend Jackie Monahan, who’s also a comedian, and we usually share a hotel room because we just like to gossip and get room service late and get drunk. But I was in the hotel bathroom in Vegas recently and she was out in the room when the room service got there. So the room service guy brings in the tray in and I start going “Mama?!” from inside the bathroom and she’s like, “Shut up! Shut! Up!!” And she tells him, “That’s just the radio.” We just do the most awkward shit. We’ll be on the tram at an airport to get our luggage and when it stops I’ll just fall all the way over. We like making people uncomfortable. So I was laughing and crying when the room service guy finally left. I think he wanted out of there pretty bad.
What’s your biggest creative influence outside of stand-up?
Well, outside of stand-up I really dig other sorts of chicks in comedy. I think of them as my role models, like Lucille Ball, Goldie Hawn, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey. They have that very delicate balance of kindness and power and reaching their potential. I don’t think it’s harder for a woman, but it’s a different animal and they did it so well and maintained being good people, so I just have a real interest in that and it influences me a lot. I want this good balance and I want to feel good physically and feel like I’m putting something good into the universe.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of comedy?
I love beach volleyball. I’ve played my whole life. I love like hiking and yoga. I like physical stuff. And to travel with my sister and Jackie.
What’s your favorite joke of the moment?
Um, my favorite thing right now is to say on stage near the end of my set, “Before I get out of here, I just want to really quick talk about my dad’s murder.” No one ever laughs. It’s an awkward moment and I think it ruins the set, but it really love saying it.