*This interview was originally posted on April 22, 2011.
You might recognize Amy Schumer from “Last Comic Standing,” “30 Rock,” her “Comedy Central Presents” special or her gig as co-host on Fuse’s “Hoppus on Music.” Or maybe you don’t recognize her at all, but the name is familiar? Probably, or at least hopefully. Her stock has been rising crazy fast in the comedy scene, and this year alone you will see her on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Adult Swim’s cult favorite “Delocated,” and the movie “Price Check” with Parker Posey. Her new CD Cutting comes out this Tuesday, April 26th (you can pre-order on iTunes now), which gives you a hilarious, dirty, all-so-wrong-but-so-funny look inside the mind of one of the funniest comedians working today. Continue reading for an interview that will make you laugh hard to the point of possible injury, seriously, you have been warned. Enjoy!
Serial Optimist: Hi Amy! Thanks for taking time to talk to us! Where are you right now; what did you do today?
Amy Schumer: Hi! I’m in my apt on the upper west side. Today I filmed an episode of my TV show “Hoppus on Music” and I brushed my teeth.
SO: You started doing comedy around 2004, correct? When did you know you wanted to do stand-up, was it something you always wanted to do even as a child/teenager? (We know about your “Class-clown” and “Teacher’s Worst Nightmare” honors, thanks to Wikipedia, which leads us to believe you knew you were hilarious early on!) Can you describe some of your early experiences and at what point you realized that you were good enough to make a career out of comedy?
Amy: When I got booked to headline my first college, I found out I would be making 800 bucks and I ran around my apt like it was a million and I thought would I be this happy if one day I had a baby? And then I thought no. This is my life.
I was a problem child, no stranger to Saturday detention. It was me and all the real delinquents. They would want to sleep or come down off of whatever drug they were on, but I made them play charades. It was really funny to see a kid who just moved here from Argentina try and act out “Scarface”.
I started June 1, 2004.
SO: What was the experience of Last Comic Standing like? You were the last female left – do you think that there will ever be a point, or do you think we are close to it, to where being a woman comic gives you an edge, or will it always be a hindrance? You’re comedy is dirty, but totally honest and hilarious. Do you ever get feedback to be less dirty or feel like people don’t really understand the genius of the jokes and think that you’re just another girl comic telling dirty jokes?
Amy: Last Comic was totally fun. I had a great time because there was no pressure on me; I had been doing stand-up around two years. I wasn’t supposed to do well. So every time I advanced it was a happy surprise. I kept it honest on the show and it served me well.
Sometimes being a female comic gives you an edge but most of the time it’s a pain in the ass and the p*ssy. Who says I’m dirty? Haha, sorry. One person asked me to be less dirty but it was a boyfriend. We broke up.
I don’t think of myself as a dirty comic but I do talk about sex honestly and I don’t think people are used to a chick talking about her clit. But hey, you write what you know right.
SO: What’s your joke writing process like?
Amy: I don’t know. Sometimes I’ll just say something around friends and we all laugh then I get serious and I’m like, was that funny? Sometimes I will have an idea and work it out on stage or overtime in my head. Sorry, I’m boring myself.
SO: What’s it like doing stand up in NYC compared to a club in the Midwest? Does your material translate well to all places?
Amy: Man, how do I answer this diplomatically? I can’t. I think NY is the fastest, smartest place to perform. Some places in the Midwest are too. But some cities are dumb, let’s be real. If a jokes funny I don’t think the geography matters. But if a joke requires you to listen or think, that’s when it comes into play.
SO: You got to open for your favorite comedian, Dave Attell, a bunch. How did that come about? How did you not freak out?
Amy: Mostly from working at the comedy cellar in NY. He thought I was funny and then we did some shows in NYC then he took me on the road with him. I didn’t freak out but I could have. I felt honored. I still feel honored. Every night sitting and laughing with the best comedians working is the biggest gift of all. No BS.
SO: You have roles coming up in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Price Check with Parker Posey. Can you talk about acting vs. stand-up? Is acting more of a challenge since you are not also writing the material, or does that make it simpler? Do you ever write material other than stand-up?
Amy: You are really packing a lot of questions into each group. Hahaaha. On Curb you use your own writing to that was a little different. But Price Check I was cast in and they had no idea I was a comic. I loved that. I also loved the script so if the writing is good it makes saying the dialogue a lot easier of course Acting is more of a challenge because I haven’t been doing it 4 times a day for the past seven years like I have with stand-up.
I went to college for theater and then on to a two year Meisner program in NYC where I studied with William Esper. I have a company in NY called The Collective and we are all working actors so that part of my life is always active but not as constant as stand-up.
I have written a few articles for Cosmopolitan Magazine. I write a lot of scripts. You will see more writing from me in the near future.
SO: That’s our trick, we say 10-12 questions, but it’s all lies! I was listening to WTF with Marc Maron’s podcast, where you said that you had kind of “learned the secret” of being a club comic and that you were becoming almost a little bit too good. Does that make you want to change it up or are you happy to continue with your current comedic style?
Amy: I didn’t say I had become too good, I said if you start doing too well on the road, you may be going in the wrong direction. Audiences will laugh at some shitty jokes that it seems like everyone has. There are a lot of topics that have been done to death and when someone goes on stage and kills with a lower back tattoo joke or a my wife loves shopping bit, as a comic watching I want to take a shower. It’s like gross and then you are mad at the crowd for enjoying it. I don’t want to ever take the easy route for laughs. I want to be creative and proud of every joke I say and not just rely on the cadence or getting louder at the end of a line so the crowd knows to laugh. That’s what I mean.
I can’t change my style; it’s not a choice. I hope it continues to gradually change over time. Like Al Roker.
SO: Chelsea Peretti included you on a list of people that she either likes only as comedians or only as people in a recent Serial Optimist interview. Please comment.
Amy: I think that ho likes me and thinks I’m funny.
SO: Totally, who wouldn’t? Have you ever just bombed, to where all you got was silence from the audience? Can you describe what that feels like? Ugh it scares me just thinking about it.
Amy: I have experienced silence from an arena of 4,000 people. That is the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life. It feels bad real bad, like stroke bad. But I lived and now I’m not scared of it. It was a sound I don’t think I’ll ever hear again. Praise Allah.
SO: I can’t even imagine that. I would die. Comedians, both male and female, seem to be getting better looking. Thoughts?
Amy: It sucks; it’s a lot of pressure. All you used to have to do to be a hot female comic was wear some wet n wild lipstick now you have to look like an actress. It blows, I quit. Oh sorry, quick meltdown. In NY I do well looks wise. In LA I audition for the fat friend because I weight 135 give or take 10lbs.
SO: When are you at your most vulnerable?
Amy: I would say after a rape. Or when there is semen on my face. It’s really hard to act confident when you are struggling around to find a napkin like Helen Keller.
SO: Do you have an all time favorite tweet?
Amy: Once @Jackiemonahan tweeted, “I farted during sex last night & to make me feel better everyone else farted too.”
That made me laugh.
SO: Okay, bye!