Two questions frequently arise in the Inside Amy Schumer writers’ room, says the titular comedienne: “What are we saying? And what’s the point of view with this?”
That commitment to championing specificity paid off with a second season of the Comedy Central hit packed with hilariously memorable sketches: Amy negotiating with God (who happens to be gay — and played by Paul Giamatti) to get her way out of a herpes diagnosis; Amy visiting a therapist to help her talk her technophobe mother through sending an email with an attached photo; Amy getting cast in an animated movie about action-hero meerkats, only to learn her character is a pants-less, defecating and very anatomically correct horror named Dumpy.
Schumer’s breakout year got even better when her show’s spot-on parody of The Newsroom went viral last month, followed by a Critics’ Choice Award nod and a Season 3 renewal announcement last week. (Oh, and she has a starring role in the upcoming Judd Apatow flick Trainwreck, which she also penned.)
Could an Emmy nod for her clever brand of observational comedy and hilariously earnest performance be next? TVLine included Schumer as a Dream Emmy Nominee for Best Actress in a Comedy Series — though her subsequent “For Your Consideration” video asks voters to consider her in the Supporting Actress race — and her show’s steadily increasing buzz could make her a contender.
TVLine caught up with Schumer to talk about the high points of her Season 2 run and get her take on body image, SNL and A-list guest stars.
TVLINE | Coming into Season 2, did you feel added pressure, especially after Season 1 was so well-received?
The stakes were definitely higher for me, but not so much because of how well we were received. I personally was so proud of the first season. I thought it was so funny, and everyone did such a great job, that it was just self-pressure. Maybe I should’ve felt pressure from [the critics], but I really work from a place of trying to make the people I’m closest to — which are mostly comedians and my family and friends — laugh. I just want to be proud of myself and want them to be proud of me, so that’s where all the pressure comes from.
TVLINE | Your parody of The Newsroom was probably the biggest viral moment from Inside Amy Schumer thus far. What was the inspiration behind that sketch?
We had definitely spoken about The Newsroom in our writers’ room a lot. And then [writer] Jeremy Beiler pitched the idea and we were all like, “That’s awesome.” All the writers this season really raised the stakes. We thought, “Can we do this? Is this something we can handle?” and we were just so excited. [“The Foodroom”] was one of the scenes in the first round of pitching, and that set a good precedent for how ambitious we were going to be this season.
TVLINE | When one of your sketches goes viral like that, does it influence the way you approach future material?
It definitely gives me more confidence. It makes me feel ambitious and fearless about what to parody and what ground to cover. It felt great that that happened.
TVLINE | In your mind, what scene or guest star really stands out from Season 2?
Oh, gosh, so many. Parker Posey, I’ve worshipped her forever. Paul Giamatti was just so awesome, such a pro. I love comics, I love actors, I love people that love performing. So to have these people say yes — to just trust me and come to this set with no money, getting our hair and make-up done in a church basement — it’s really cool and it’s really hard work. So, I was definitely moved by those people doing the show. But then the actors that are less known really surprised me. There’s a scene where it’s me and Chrissy Teigen and Kevin Kane who plays my boyfriend, and it just so happens that this supermodel is our couples’ therapist. And the little subtle things that he did really made me laugh so hard. Those are the scenes where I can’t stop laughing.
TVLINE | “Fearless” is a word used in a lot of reviews of your comedy, and many critics point to the social commentary that’s part of the fabric of your show. Do you feel a need to make an important point with every sketch, or are some just for fun?
That’s a great question, and it’s definitely a bit of both. You know, when someone pitches chicken fingers that look like fingers and we call them Finger Blasters — that’s just silly. But even in that, there is a little bit of social commentary. Some of them are just fun, though. Like in Season 1, we did one called “Fart Horror.” And it was me getting caught by the killer because I just couldn’t stop farting. I was hiding in a closet and just farting. [Laughs] But even in that, there’s a parody of a girl being murdered in a movie. There are little comments in probably every corner of the show. And I really feel like we do our best not to waste a frame without trying to say something.
TVLINE | Do you keep tabs on other sketch-comedy and variety shows — Saturday Night Live, for example?
With my acting background in Meisner [technique], the whole thing is about acting truthfully under imaginary circumstances. The scenes are played like scenes, rather than sketches. There’s no wink to the camera or a slapstick feel. They’re all played very real, which is why I love using great New York actors or theater actors. I used to produce stand-up shows once a month, and we would start the show with a scene I wrote, and that I would usually direct, and I really liked that. So, the format of the sketches on the show is really [derived] from the scenes that I would write from these [live] comedy shows. Because of that, I’m not watching SNL or Kroll Show or anything like that. I’m not comparing it to those things, because I do feel like there’s room for all of us and we’re all very different.
TVLINE | When critics discuss your show, there’s a lot of talk about you representing women in their 20s and 30s. Are you comfortable with that role?
It doesn’t intimidate me, but I do feel aware of my responsibility. Sometimes you’ll hear a pop star saying, “Well, I didn’t choose to be a role model for them.” I feel like I’m someone who does have a voice that is heard by women right now, so I don’t take that lightly. I’m still going to put my point of view out there, but I’m aware of that responsibility.
TVLINE | You got to work with some big names this season — Josh Charles, Parker Posey, Janeane Garofalo, the list goes on. Was that ever nerve-wracking?
I’ve gotta say — and it must be part of the delusion that let me start doing stand-up and gave me the confidence to do any of this stuff — but when it’s your set, there’s a whole other level of confidence. I had a day on 30 Rock, I had a couple days on Girls, and when it’s somebody else’s show, you just want to do a good job and not set them back. But when it’s my show, I feel very confident. I’m filming some [movie] scenes right now, and I’ve got Ezra Miller on one side of me and Tilda Swinton on the other. And I’m just doing these scenes with them and I’m not thinking, “Tilda Tilda Tilda!” [Laughs] I’m really just focusing on doing what I’m doing in the scene. The truth is, I don’t get intimidated by working with…. anybody. [Laughs] Which I think makes me a little bit of a psychopath. But I also know people. I know we’re all human. We have good days where we feel really proud of our work, and then other days where we’re like, “Jesus, I was basically just taking a dump on the set today.” [Laughs]
TVLINE | And many of your sketches do stem from women’s insecurities, body image issues, all these habits that women really have. When you’re writing, does your material come more from personal experience or are you trying to zero in on popular trends you can skew?
I’m really never targeting things that I just think are popular in society. It mostly comes from something personal, or at least something I have a personal point of view about. And you know, there’s a couple days a month where I’m sure everybody feels like, “Oh my God, I’m just a lump of s—t.” But for the most part, I feel really great about myself, and so I want to share that with people, and I hope they feel that way, too.