Amy schumer

Close your eyes. Now, vi­su­alise Amy Schumer as a curly-haired kid wear­ing a Cats jumper. You’re smil­ing, right? Even as a child she was bring­ing the funny.

YEN - - INTERVIEW - WORDS JANA ROOSE

Ev­ery­thing in life is about con­text. Say­ing ‘pussy’ at a cafe while talk­ing to your friend? Not a big deal. Say­ing ‘pussy’ on an Amer­i­can ca­ble net­work? You’re fired, go get your things. But thanks to Amer­i­can co­me­dian Amy Schumer, as of 2014, ac­tors on the Com­edy Cen­tral chan­nel can now shout pussy from the rooftops, if they’re har­nessed in prop­erly. Schumer and the writ­ing team on In­side Amy Schumer – a weekly mix of stand-up, sketches, and in­ter­views, that’s been re­newed for a fourth sea­son – strug­gled against cen­sors to be able to say the word ‘pussy’ on air. ‘Dick’ could be said, but ‘pussy’ had to be bleeped over. Frus­trated by the in­con­sis­tency, Schumer’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Daniel Pow­ell wrote a let­ter to the net­work call­ing it out for the gen­der in­equal­ity of its stan­dards. Prudes and squares ev­ery­where lost that day.

Whether be­hind the scenes or in front of the cam­era, Schumer is the queen of gen­der pol­i­tics, spark­ing dis­cus­sions on deep and sen­si­tive hu­man truths with the joy­ous na­ture of a kid toss­ing a bunger while crouched be­hind a wheelie bin. Most of her standup re­volves around be­ing can­did in the face of taboos – abor­tion, one-night stands, rape cul­ture, the ex­pec­ta­tion of women to be tame. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity,” says Schumer, of her po­si­tion as a fem­i­nist com­men­ta­tor. “I have good in­ten­tions and things that I think are im­por­tant to say so I only see it as an op­por­tu­nity. Peo­ple are safe in my hands.”

Schumer has been called ‘sneak­ily fem­i­nist’ for her abil­ity to write and pro­duce sketches that get men to think about gen­der pol­i­tics – In­side Amy Schumer’s au­di­ence is 50-50 male to fe­male, a rare statis­tic for a show with a woman at the helm and a nearly all-fe­male writ­ing staff. But she’s not merely dis­guis­ing fem­i­nism so men can con­sume it, like press­ing a de-worm­ing pill into a piece of chicken for your dog. It’s much more. Schumer is call­ing out peo­ple on both sides of the line, and it goes be­yond gen­der pol­i­tics – it’s class, race, re­li­gion, stereo­typ­ing, dou­ble stan­dards. She would call out a cap­puc­cino for not hav­ing enough froth. Schumer is the ref­eree and the game is hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, and as long as there are fouls there will be Amy Schumer.

Our con­ver­sa­tion with the 35-year-old co­me­dian is dot­ted with her sig­na­ture elon­gated ‘thank youuu’, some­thing she says on stage close to ev­ery time the au­di­ence laughs. So, a lot. From the au­di­ence it looks like a ner­vous habit, but hear­ing her say it in ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion, it be­comes clear that Schumer is be­ing gen­uine up there. She is hon­estly ap­pre­cia­tive of ev­ery laugh and ev­ery com­pli­ment. “I do re­mem­ber when it was ex­plained to me that peo­ple laugh­ing was good,” she says. “I was in a play, The Sound of Mu­sic, I was play­ing Gretl, I was five years old and the au­di­ence would laugh when­ever I said any­thing, and I got re­ally up­set and the di­rec­tor was like, ‘Why are you get­ting up­set?’ and I was like, ‘They’re laugh­ing at me!’ and she was like, ‘They’re laugh­ing be­cause they love you and they think you’re funny, and they en­joy you, that’s good.’ And I was like, ‘Ohh’, so it was ex­plained to me at age five.”

Schumer grew up on the Up­per East Side to a mum who had no bound­aries and a dad who she de­scribes as “such a wise ass, he is just so sar­cas­tic and I’m so glad that I in­her­ited that from him.” Her par­ents sup­ported her love of theatre from an early age and were the wind in her sails, per­haps to a fault, as she tells The New York Times: “They con­vinced me I was God’s gift to the world. I would come to school with curly bangs and a Cats [the mu­si­cal] sweater, and peo­ple were con­fused by my con­fi­dence.” She re­mained self-as­sured, even when things weren’t al­ways great. Schumer has a stand-up joke where she talks about mov­ing to a new town, where anti-Semitism was rife. “I didn’t care for it,” she tells ra­dio host Howard Stern. “Kids are mean, they didn’t like Jewish peo­ple in that town.” In her stand-up show she phrases it like this: “The kids didn’t call me Amy Schumer, they called me Amy Jewmer. One sum­mer, I’ll never for­get this, all the kids took turns throw­ing hand­fuls of pen­nies at me. I know, I was like, ‘Ex­cuse me – this is awe­some!’” In her dis­cus­sion with Stern, she says she’s ex­pe­ri­enced lots of pain in the past, and like most co­me­di­ans, hu­mour be­came a way to dif­fuse bad en­coun­ters. “I took a long look in the mir­ror, frown­ing at my­self and my ruf­fled socks and frizzy hair. I stood there un­til some­thing caught my eye. It was my eye. I looked at my lit­tle blue eyes red­dened from cry­ing and thought, ‘No, they are wrong. I like my frizzy hair. I like how this fanny pack makes Mr. Mistof­felees look. I am... gonna be just fine.’ I marched into school the next day with twice as much con­fi­dence,” Schumer wrote in a Cos­mopoli­tan ar­ti­cle about her school ex­pe­ri­ence in 2011.

By her last year of high school, Schumer was voted Class Clown and Teacher’s Worst Night­mare. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she stud­ied theatre in Bal­ti­more be­fore re­turn­ing to New York, where she has been do­ing stand up for the last 11 years, bar­tend­ing and tak­ing on odd jobs to pay the bills. “My last job was sort­ing mail. I worked in an of­fice build­ing and I would get two bags of mail and I would put them in the right mail­boxes for peo­ple in the of­fice. I’m an in­tro­vert, be­lieve it or not, so I liked this just be­cause I didn’t have

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