As a server at Blue Fin restaurant in Times Square, Amy Schumer — then an aspiring stand-up comic — said she waited on comedian Patton Oswalt every day for nearly a week, bringing him tea during each visit to help him combat his cold. They would strike up a conversation each time, but Schumer, who has also been a waitress at Michael Jordan's The Steak House N.Y.C., stayed away from talking about her comedic aspirations. Oswalt had probably been hounded by plenty of waiters with similar dreams, she figured.
"Now we do comedy festivals together," Schumer, 31, said over the phone last month from her hotel room in Las Vegas. "He's someone who, if we're in the same city, we'll get a meal together."
(Oswalt, through his publicist, said he can't recall his earliest interactions with Schumer but imagines she was kind and funny.)
Schumer — whose show Friday at The Vic Theatre is sold out — has risen up the comedy ranks thanks in large part to her ruthless performances in Comedy Central's roasts of Charlie Sheen in 2011 and Roseanne Barr in 2012. She has the face of a Cabbage Patch Kids doll, but don't let that fool you. This is the same woman who told Barr, "You know you're unattractive when Sarah Gilbert is the eye candy on set." And in reference to the late Ryan Dunn, Schumer controversially told his "Jackass" co-star Steve-O "I know you must have been thinking, 'It could have been me,' and we were all thinking, 'Why wasn't it?'"
Schumer has made cameos on hit TV shows such as NBC's "30 Rock", FX's "Louie," HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Girls" and films including 2012's "Seeking a Friend For the End of the World." And yet, she feels most of the public is still unaware of her acting background. That will change with the debut of her Comedy Central series, "Inside Amy Schumer." The show is scheduled to premiere April 30 and will feature sketches and stand-up comedy.
What's the best part about having her own show?
"This is so lame, but the truth is this TV show is my dream," Schumer said. "It's like they say in 'A Bronx Tale': 'The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.' This show is everything I have in me. I like to create stuff. I like to express myself through jokes. I get to go all-out on this show. I can't wait for people to see it."
(Her Chicago-based brother — Jason Stein, a bass clarinetist — is also pretty talented. The Tribune named Jason Stein Quartet's "The Story This Time" one of the top jazz albums of 2011.)
Because of her youthful looks and emergence onto the comedy scene, some might be under the impression Schumer hasn't paid her comedy dues. But Schumer, who finished fourth on NBC's "Last Comic Standing" in 2007, said she has been performing stand-up for eight years and has tasted failure, including writing a pilot for CBS last year that was never made and appearing in a "Tosh.0"-like pilot for VH1 that was not picked up.
It was during her national tour with "Last Comic Standing" that Schumer said she suffered one of her greatest disappointments: She lost out on a major role in the critically acclaimed 2008 drama "The Wrestler."
"I made it all the way to auditions in front of (director) Darren Aronofsky," Schumer said of the role that eventually went to Evan Rachel Wood. "It was a great audition, and I was checking my phone and my email constantly after that. It was really disappointing when I didn't get it. Now I just know better. The last couple of roles I missed out on went to Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Biel and Olivia Wilde."
(Asked about Schumer, Aronofsky said through his publicist that he'd never met her, likely because he didn't remember their encounter. "The Wrestler" producer Scott Franklin, however, did remember Schumer auditioning but said she wasn't one of the finalists.)
Still, Schumer is seeing her profile on the rise in Hollywood and admitted the extra attention has taken getting used to. When a fan called out her name as she left her gym in New York, she just assumed it was someone she grew up with and gave the fan a hug. And then there were the paparazzi waiting outside an L.A. restaurant for her, and the autograph hounds with binders full of celebrity photos waiting outside a hotel in Chicago.
Schumer's love life has become a hot topic as well. Jon Lovitz unexpectedly revealed during the Sheen roast that she was dating fellow roaster Anthony Jeselnik, host of Comedy Central's "The Jeselnik Offensive," and in an interview with shock jock Howard Stern in August she acknowledged her past relationship with WWE wrestler Dolph Ziggler.
"We're still friends and I asked (Ziggler) before I went on if I could talk about it, since I knew Howard would ask. He was totally fine with it," said Schumer, who discussed their sex life on the air. "Afterward, I was like 'Uh, hi. What's up, man?' He was such a good sport. The only thing was that his mom or aunt had listened and he didn't think about that side of it."
But those sorts of comments come as no surprise to anyone familiar with her stand-up. She is very open about her sex life (her Comedy Central special was called "Mostly Sex Stuff" and was the network's second-highest-rated special in 2012) and is very comfortable with her figure.
"I feel very comfortable in my own skin," Schumer said. "When someone makes jokes about me being heavy, it makes me mad. It's not true. I'm right where I should be. But most of all, I don't want other girls to see this and think 'Wait, that's fat?'"
The weight jokes, however, haven't deterred Schumer from wanting to take part in more roasts. She enjoys crafting her insults. Of course, it likely helps that roasts have given her career a boost.
"I recently got to do a show in Atlantic City with Dave Attell and Jim Norton," Schumer said. "I used to open for them a couple years ago and now I'm on the same bill as them. Even right now, I'm in a nice hotel room in Vegas. A year ago, I had to be moved to a different hotel because of bed bugs. When I walked into this room, I looked around and thought, 'Good job, (expletive).'"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: The Vic Theatre, 4135 N. Sheffield Ave.
Tickets: Sold outCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times