Inside Amy Schumer premieres at 10:30pm ET April 30 on Comedy Central. She is also currently on a standup tour to promote the show.
What’s it like to talk to a dominatrix? What would “porn for women” really look like? Do pretty girls get stuff for free?
These were just some of the questions rolling around Amy Schumer’s head when she was putting together her new show for Comedy Central. Inside Amy Schumer is a unique mix of sketch comedy, standup performance, man-on-the-street segments and interviews with everyday people who have jobs — dominatrix, cop, bathroom attendant, stripper — that the edgy comic has always been curious about.
Schumer had lots of help on her passion project, enlisting friends like Amber Tamblyn, comic Tig Notaro, Abby Elliott, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter just to name a few.
It’s the next step in a transition for Schumer, who is out to prove she’s more than just the shock comic whose girl-next-door look belies the vulgar things that come out of her mouth (as evidenced by her star-making performance at 2011’s Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen). Inside Amy Schumer viewers will get to see her acting chops — she holds a B.A. in theater — and hear how her standup has evolved.
Channel Guide Magazine: This show has a lot of elements to it, but is it largely sketches with other things built around that?
Amy Schumer: I’ve been avoiding calling them sketches, because the scenes play so real. I was lucky to get my favorite New York comics and actors, and so it’s like the scenes are all … there’s a really dark, awful twist to most of them. But they’re played as you would on stage, or theater. It’s about four scenes per episode, and that’s cut up with my standup and man-on-the-street, and also a short interview. The interviews are with real people who do jobs that I was curious about and never got the chance to talk to. I got to talk to a dominatrix, a cop, or a bathroom attendant, a stripper — people I never got to sit down with and ask questions I thought were interesting. But the bulk of it is these scenes, and an example of a scene where it starts out with Amber Tamblyn and I sitting on a couch and she’s saying, “I just don’t like porn,” and I’m like, “I totally get it.” She says, “Watching people getting paid to have sex just doesn’t do it for me.” And then I’m like, “Yeah, but this is different. It’s porn for women. They literally made these videos, and it’s just sex from the woman’s point of view.” She’s like, “All right, I’ll watch it.” And we watch it, and that’s what it is, the camera looking out at the room. The guy’s behind her. There’s a shot of her looking at her nails, and you know, maybe him a little bit. But just a real tight shot of his chest hair and up his nostrils. You know, what a woman would actually see. She winds up being so horrified, and we wind up making out at the end because we got so grossed out. And then it pulls out and reveals that it’s actually just a guy watching a video of us. So the scenes all have little hidden point of view and messages, but they’re funny. They came out great. We finished filming last week.
CGM: And these interviews, you’re doing them yourself?
AS: Yeah. The focus testing on the pilot, people really enjoyed the scenes, and they wanted to see more of me being myself as well. So I thought, “Well, I don’t want to interview celebrities, because who gives a shit?” But like, I’d love to just sit down and talk to a gorgeous girl. Like, the first episode I talk to a model. I’m just like, “What is it like?” “Do you get stuff for free?” “Are you hungry?” Just ask the stuff I’ve always wanted to know. And they came out great.
CGM: How difficult was it to keep finding material for the episodes?
AS: We filmed 10 episodes, and had we gotten more, it wouldn’t have been a stretch. We had to cut a lot that we loved. I still feel a little traumatized by some scenes that I know aren’t going to make it into the show. The man-on-the-street, that’s something I’ve always loved doing. Especially in New York, people are just so ready to talk and be intimate. I’ll go up to someone and just be asking, “Have you ever cheated on someone?” And then like boom, they’ll just be like, “Yep.” They just don’t run away.
CGM: It’s a common career path for a comedian to at some point have their own show. Did you always have visions of what your show would be like?
AS: The truth is I didn’t. I haven’t had this dream. I was always an actress, I did plays as young as 5 years old, and then I liked doing standup, but I didn’t ever have an endgame. I wasn’t like, “Oh, then I can start making money on the road, and then I’ll be headlining.” I never had that vision for myself. Everything has just kind of happened. I never did think, “What would my TV show be?” Then just this last year, if you have enough heat on you, people are like, “What show do you want to make?” And you’re like, “Ummm.” Then I got an opportunity, CBS bought a pilot from me which didn’t get made. But at the same time I was shooting a pilot for Comedy Central. That was my first go-round. I had to buy Final Draft last year, so it’s not like I’ve just been working away at this. And as for Comedy Central, I sort of didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I thought, “They’re not going to buy a show from a girl. They’ve been very nice to me, but their demographic, it’s just not in the cards.” I knew they were looking for a late-night talk show, and I was like, “OK, I’ll do that.” So we were going to film my late-night talk show, whatever that would have been. Which I wasn’t interested in. I hosted a show at Fuse with Mark Hoppus from Blink-182, we had this music show, and I was like, “You know, I’m just not interested in hosting right now. It’s not appealing to me.” But whatever, I was just going to do this pilot and hope that the CBS one went through. But then the head writer, Jessi Klein, from my show was like, “You know what, I think you’re squandering this and you should make the show of your dreams. Make the show that you would want to make.” And I was like, “Oh yeah. What am I doing?” So I made my absolute dream show. The format comes from standup, which is my love and I’ve done forever. Man-on-the-street is something I’ve done for almost 10 years, usually it’s just one camera guy, a friend of mine that I’ve convinced to follow me around and I’m holding my own light and mic.
CGM: You made a name for yourself with your extreme jokes at the Comedy Central roasts. Is there ever a sense of pressure that you feel locked into that kind of humor?
AS: Luckily my standup has continued to evolve. Those are the jokes I used to gravitate toward and that’s what I liked to write. But I’m becoming more and more myself onstage, and the stories are more personal, so while a lot of them do have that kind of a dynamic, and a lot of them are about me and something awful happening, or something dark, it’s not like the setup, punchline and misdirection that I used to do. Now it’s really just more stories and people have been very receptive. No one has expressed to me, “We miss when you would just tell one-liners about AIDS.” It’s felt very natural, and it has moved away from that, and I feel very lucky. I have to do what feels right to me.
CGM: Given your theater background, you must be excited to show people your acting chops.
AS: I am excited to show that part of myself. There’s going to be a good amount of standup in every episode, so I think that will make it a little easier to digest. But I know people get mad when you don’t know a side of someone and that person wants it to come out. You know, like how we feel about Seth MacFarlane singing. Or when you found out Russell Crowe was in Les Miz, I was like, “Oh, are you serious? What?” But it’s like, I didn’t know he had a musical background. We don’t know people’s stories. I’m sure there will be some resistance, but I know I did a good job, and I know the show is funny, so I feel like that will dissipate quickly.
Photo: Credit: Comedy Central and Peter Yang