Amy Schumer keeps her promise to be honest and authentic — and she doesn’t really care what you think
When Amy Schumer answers our call, she’s walking on the beach in Oahu, figuring there’s a paparazzi lurking somewhere, taking a photo, which is a problem, she says, because she’s having her period and she’s “not sucking in.”
“I can’t wait for that picture to land on the Internet,” she says, laughing.
An hour later, when we end the call, she’s back in her hotel room, picking up dirty underwear so she can do the laundry on her day off from shooting the adventure-comedy movie she’s making with Goldie Hawn.
In between, there was much to discuss — the recently completed, Emmy-nominated fourth season of “Inside Amy Schumer,” her upcoming memoir, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” and, yes, that movie she’s making with Hawn. Let’s get to it.
You had a sketch on “Welcome to the Gun Show,” the episode you submitted for Emmy voters, about Twitter introducing a new shortcut — the “I’m going to rape and kill you button.” Watching it again after what just happened with Leslie Jones on Twitter, it’s even more of a pointed indictment.
Leslie is a friend and we talked about it. It was just so much hate at once. And you feel like it’s never-ending and it is the truth. She was not used to it. I’ve had 10 years of people sending a lot of vitriol and it’s been spread out. For her, it hit like a ton of bricks. I told her, “You’re going to come back and be like, ‘… you.’ And it’s going to make you stronger.”
‘We need you to dress a little softer, smile more, mix up your intonation.’ It’s insanely unfair. There’s just crazy hypocrisy.
— Amy Schuer
Has that been your experience?
In terms of the Internet, I feel pretty strong. I haven’t read a comment for a long time that has made me wince in any way. It’s more real-life stuff. But I remember how it feels. It feels like your new reality, like your biggest fear has come true. And then once they’ve come true, you have nothing to be scared of.
At least Twitter took some action about targeted abuse from trolls.
It took Leslie Jones to get them to realize that people are banding together in a violent and dangerous way. And, you know, we can uphold our First Amendment and still protect people in a way that isn’t careless. I was really happy to see that.
There’s always going to be a pocket of aggressive crazies. That’s what that sketch was about. It’s always a guy, whose avatar is the American flag or them with their kids on their shoulders, and they’ll write, “Die, you fat ...” But then their description of themselves is “Father. Christian. Spreading the word.”
Did you hear from a few of those people about the Home Shopping Network-style gun show sketch that’s also on the episode? It took the ease of purchasing a gun in America to its absurdist extreme.
Yes. It was: “Get your facts straight.” And I’m like, “That’s exactly what we did before we shot the scene.” I just wanted to make sure we weren’t actually promoting guns. There’s a fine line with the comedy.
That scene is horrifying. You don’t know whether to laugh or scream. I did both.
That scene was very last-minute. I had been trying to rewrite the movie “Clue” and I got a bunch of the original actors to agree to do it. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it funny enough. It felt like it was just me trying to do something that people would be amazed by. So I was like, “… it.” And then I thought of this way to address guns, call some people out and do it with these fun, awful monsters we got to play.
The home shopping hosts were just spot-on in their fake, sunny intimacy. Do you spend much time watching these channels?
Absolutely not. It’s such a prostitution of “I’m just like you and I’m your friend and we’re just chatting at home.” My mom’s a Home Shopping Network person. She has sent me so many … Joy Mangano hangers. “Mom! Keep these … hangers away from me!” It’s awful.
Throughout the season, you also had some sharp sketches about the ways women are told to behave so as not to come off disagreeable or unlikable. We’re seeing that right now in the way people are responding to Hillary Clinton.
“We need you to dress a little softer, smile more, mix up your intonation.” It’s insanely unfair. There’s just crazy hypocrisy.
Commentators saying Clinton needed to smile during her convention acceptance speech.
We were on set filming when Hillary was giving her speech and the women on the crew were all gathered around a cell phone watching it stream. It was this beautiful, emotional thing to watch together. Some people were crying. And then like two of the 15 women were like, “She looked great.” What? That’s what you just got from that?
You performed for Clinton at her birthday dinner last year. How did you tailor your set?
I did 10 minutes. I focused on her. I remember just joking around about how close we were — a lot of nicknames. Calling her Hillary, then Hill, then Hill-dog. Then I was going to leave right after my set, because that’s what you do. “No. You’re seated next to the secretary.” And I’m like, “Of what? Of State? Oh my god. Am I sitting right next to … Hillary Rodham Clinton?”
What was that like?
It was awkward. But then I broke the ice. I freaked her out on purpose. I asked her, “You want to get coffee tomorrow?” “What???” Now we both laugh.
And text each other every day.
Constantly. You don’t even want to know what she thinks about the two bachelors left. She did send me a physical letter, an email and two voice mails after the event, thanking me. She’s that person.
I’m guessing you saved those voice mails.
Nope. Deleted them before I even finished listening. (Pause.) I listen to them often actually. She said, “I meant what I said last night. You make me laugh and you make me think.” And I was like, “Thanks, Hill. I’ll take it.”
Everyone always talks about how confident you are as a person. I’ve got a 16-year-old daughter and there just seem to be so many ways to have your self-image damaged at that age. Where did your confidence come from?
Honestly, a lot from my parents just making me believe I was God’s gift to the world. I look at young girls and there’s no chink in the armor. Nobody has pulled them down yet. My niece is 2½ and she’ll just poop on the floor and be like, “Oops.” I feel like I’m always working my way back to that. And I feel pretty close to that, actually.
But, you know, 16 is a tough age. You try to find your confidence from your friends and who you are. I played volleyball and I was funny and I had music and TV shows that I liked. I was proud of who I was and then I lost it in college and then I got it back. It’s a cycle that still happens. You just want to spend shorter amounts of time thinking you’re the ugliest, most worthless person in the world. If you can get that down to like a minute a month and then 30 seconds and then 20 …
That makes me think of that one sketch you had this year about the silent potato chips, Shhh-Nacks, where you went after the shame women are made to feel about eating. There was just this news today about Women’s Health magazine …
… Oh God …
… announcing they were going to ditch …
… Hold on. I’m ready to die laughing. Go ahead.
… “are you bikini-ready” terminology from their covers. And no more “Drop two sizes!” on the covers, either.
I can’t believe it was Women’s Health. Look at their covers! Have they ever released an issue where the women aren’t on the boundary of starving? I will be blown the … away if that happens. Maybe they’ve found new key words that aren’t as triggering.
Well, the story went on to cite a study from the American Psychological Assn. saying that the obsession with being thin is declining.
So it’s about money for them? OK. Not that they realize that women don’t want to be told that they’re bad or wrong or need a major overhaul for happiness or love. Great. I’m not going to pop a bottle of Dom, believe it or not.
You talked about what you were like at 16. Do you write about your adolescence in your book?
I kept journals from the age of 13 to 23. Like every day was accounted for. What happened. How I felt about it. So I’ve been writing this book since I was 13 and really working on it for four years.
Was the experience therapeutic?
It was beyond therapeutic. It was really painful and humiliating and empowering. It was really exciting. I made a promise to be honest and authentic. It definitely doesn’t paint me in the best light all the time. There’s no question it’s going to come with some controversy.
Do you share the journal entries in the book?
Yes. And they’re horrible. I talk about a guy trying to put his toes in my vagina — the first time I was ever shocked. There’s a journal entry about that. And then there’s me doing footnotes today, talking about why is this guy trying to use me as a moccasin. I just met him.
There’s also heavy stuff with my dad and my mom. Painful stuff. It changed my whole dynamic with my mom. I learned a lot of things about myself that I had forgotten or didn’t know. Writing it was kind of funny, mostly awful and a little endearing. It was like reading about a girl I knew. “Aaaaw. I feel bad for this girl.” You’re pulling for her.
And there’s a chapter about the new boyfriend. He’s a furniture designer, right? A carpenter?
Yeah. People are like: “He’s like Jesus.”
And he didn’t really know your act that well.
Well, he’s from Nazareth.
Goldie Hawn didn’t really know you either. And now you’re making a movie with her, the first one she’s made in 15 years. How’d that come about?
I met her on an airplane a couple of years ago and told her there’s a movie I really want to make with her. And she was very nice. “OK, honey.” She probably thought I was a psycho. “OK, crazy person.” Then I’d meet her at different things, saying, “We’re making this movie together,” and I think, eventually, some people got in her ear and told her I wasn’t crazy, that I make things.
One of which being this movie that you wrote with your sister [Kim Caramele] and Katie Dippold.
Yes. [Goldie Hawn] plays my mom. My character is supposed to go on this trip South America with a boyfriend. But he breaks up with her. And it’s a nonrefundable ticket and she doesn’t want to drink alone. It’s a Goldie Hawn movie and she’s gorgeous. Goldie … Hawn! I don’t remember the first time I didn’t love her!
Have you learned anything from working with her?
In the book, I talk about being an introvert, needing a lot of alone time, needing to recharge a lot. And I’ve been made to feel that that’s a bad quality. In different relationships, people are like, “Why do you need time away from the group?” And I’m like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” And she’s like that too. And there’s nothing wrong with us.
And I imagine in the movie, neither of you are playing the flirty victim, spunky kid sister, wounded skank, flirty friend of mom, manic pixie or …
… Amy Adams. There’s none of that. We’re very much in charge of our own destiny. There’s no other way to be.
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