People Feel Very Cozy Inside Amy Schumer
Photo by Matthew Peyton
By Julie Seabaugh
Between releasing stand-up special Mostly Sex Stuff on DVD and blu-ray, debuting the first 10 episodes of sketch/stand-up/interview series Inside Amy Schumer and announcing a 33-date national theater tour, native New Yorker Amy Schumer had one helluva 2013. There was also the matter of Judd Apatow agreeing to executive produce and direct her script for feature film Trainwreck, in which Schumer will also star. Calling from L.A., where she's up to her neck in pre-production, the 32-year-old proved poised to have an even bigger 2014.
While the film won't begin shooting until mid-May, the second season of Inside kicks off Tuesday, April 1, and features comedic guest stars including Janeane Garofalo, Reggie Watts, Michael Ian Black, Patrick Warburton, Jon Dore, and Mike Birbiglia.
See also: Hannibal Buress: "Bombing Can Be Good"
You're not in NYC for the next few weeks, and part of that has to do with your Inside Amy Schumer's Back Door tour. I'm guessing the rest has something to do with Trainwreck. Yes, I was on the Back Door tour and now I'm in L.A. to continue the rewriting of Trainwreck. I got out here in the middle of January, and I've been touring from here, so the rewriting's been going on since then. But I've been on the road real heavily, so it seems like less time.
Are you doing spots out there? I've been doing so many shows on the road lately, but I've still been working on new stuff, and I feel a little bit guilty doing it in front of big theaters, so I've been doing the Improv a little bit, just working out some stuff for a little bit of a smaller venue. It makes me feel so much better to do that, so much stronger. Going up in front of a huge crowd that paid to see you versus a bunch of people who didn't even know that you were going to be there; they'll really let you know.
I was talking about the same thing with Hannibal Buress, how you can't really bomb in big venues, but then if you sneak onto a smaller show, it's like, "We have a special guest! Oh my God!" Then people lose their shit. But I was just back in New York, and at somewhere like the [Comedy] Cellar, probably three people were really psyched I was there. They were like, "It's her!" Then 10 more people were like, "Yay!" And then the rest of them were like, "What?" Sometimes you're a comedian they've never seen before, so you still have to earn it. Stand-up clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKPA-4u4BU I know the details of Trainwreck are being kept under wraps, but what can you tell me about the film? It is a comedy--a very R-rated comedy--that stars moi, and Bill Hader plays my love interest. I play a writer, but there are a lot of similar things to my life and my stand-up. Colin Quinn snuck into the cast as well. He did! His role hasn't been officially announced yet, but people were like, "Is he playing your love interest?" I'm like, "Uh, no, but thanks, guys..." How has it been working with Apatow? It has been amazing working with him. I really cannot believe my luck. I just finished the latest draft of the movie, which I'm handing in tonight. And then tomorrow morning I'll have notes from six people, and one of them is Judd Apatow, who's made some of my favorite movies I've ever seen. I just feel very supported. I trust him, so it's nice to not be lying awake at night, like, "Is this funny? Am I doing the right thing?" I've got him telling me yes or no.
I've been seeing some of your new material at the Cellar, and finding it to be a lot more personal and less of projected character. You're talking a lot more from the heart. How have audience been reacting? The crowds have been awesome. I've done I think 16 or 17 cities on this tour so far, and I would say at least 12 of them was a standing ovation from everyone in the theater. I really am so moved that the response has been really, really amazing. Especially going to all these cities where before I've played clubs of 100, 200 people and doing all the press, all the radio, trying to beg people to come. So now there are people coming, and they're spending their Friday or Saturday night. It's been really overwhelming. I'm trying to give them the best show I can.
Photo by Justin Stephens
Is it too soon to ask when a new special or album might be in the works? Maybe two weeks ago I would have been "Oh God, don't even ask." But I really do want to do a new special. That's been on my mind. Especially since I was trying to stay away from the material from the first season of my TV show. Then I was asking for audience requests, because people are always like, "Oh, you didn't do that joke! I wanted my friends to hear it!" I think because of the format of the TV show, the stand-up doesn't stick with you as much. I couldn't really tell you many jokes from Louie, or if [Dave] Attell said something really funny on Insomniac I would never see him live and think, "You said that on such and such..." So I just only realized that stand-up's still available to me when I felt like it was burned. So now I'd really love to do a special compiling the stand-up from the TV show and also new stuff I'm working on just so the stand-up will live somewhere particular...and then I can die.
How has the new season of Inside Amy Schumer been shaping up? We just finished editing the season, and I can say that it is so strong. And I think people should watch it with their friends and people they're comfortable with, because we really are making no apologies and didn't stay away from any taboo subjects.
There was the advance sketch preview with Paul Giamatti that made the rounds, where he portrays God as gay. People are really digging it. We've actually been showing it on the road, and it's been very cool to hear crowds' reactions to it. I know he saw it and loved it, so I couldn't be happier about that. But the guest cameos; we've got Parker Posey, Zach Braff, Josh Charles, Rachel Dratch, all the New York darlings who are my favorite actors. You don't want to send these people a script and have them be like, "Ugh." We really have to come at them with some funny stuff. You have to make it worth peoples' time.
Why is it important to you to keep in the show based in New York and stocked with local comics and writers as opposed to doing the show in L.A.? I was born in New York, I'm a New Yorker, and I've done everything I can to stay in New York, even though for 13 years now people are like, "When are you moving out to L.A.?" But I'm very proud that I found a way to shoot my TV show in New York, and that it's a union show. But I love New York; it's where I feel the most connected. The people are real and honest, and I feel the same about the actors and comedians that come out of here. I think there's a responsibility we have to each other to keep things real and not get ahead of ourselves and not have a big head. The people who respond to that kind of truth and honesty are my favorite people to work with and my favorite people to see onstage and onscreen. And I think for comedy, people behaving truthfully is just the funniest thing you can see. That's how I characterize New York actors and comedians. There's great comics and actors in L.A., but I definitely prefer New York.
How did the writing process evolve from the first season to the second? The evolution of the writing process really was the same. People pitching, then being assigned scenes, and I think that the writers who worked on both seasons would say it felt a little more laid-back. Both seasons were pretty laid-back, but this season I'm not terrified that I'm in over my head. And the writing process is so supportive, where you bring in an inkling of an idea, people pitch on it, then you write a draft, then we punch it up and punch it up. So by the end it's hard to remember really who wrote a lot of scenes because there's such collaboration.
What about it terms of practicality and logistics? Oh, you know what? That's true. The practicality is definitely something that's changed. Season one I'd be like, "Exterior: Central Park. They're having a picnic." And then when it came time for the production meeting on it, they were like, "Yeah, it's going to be 40 degrees on Tuesday." So this season it's all like, "Interior: Amy sits in a comfortable chair and never moves." You'll see very little movement. But people like action. There's a lot of physical stuff, too. But way more practical physicality ... and being comfortable: "Amy drinks real alcohol." But I'm so proud of this season. I really want people to watch it. I really want New Yorkers to watch it.
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