Amy Schumer: The New Queen of Shocking TV Comedy

Amy Schumer on airplane sex, her juvie past and the sketch that went too far

Amy Schumer
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Amy Schumer
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"I'm not trying to shock people," says Amy Schumer. The 32-year-old's Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, now in its second season, has become one of TV's funniest shows, thanks to brilliant sketches about a snack food for teenagers called Finger Blasters and a Call of Duty-style video game where a female player gets lost in red tape trying to report a sexual assault. We posed a few burning questions to Schumer, who's about to begin shooting a starring role in the next Judd Apatow film, which she also wrote.

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Have you had ideas for sketches you cut because they went too far?
We were thinking about a scene about celebrity culture, set in the TMZ newsroom, if you wanna call it that. Someone famous would be at a funeral carrying a baby coffin, and a reporter would ask, "Who are you wearing?" We pictured being on set with a baby coffin and thought, "That's too horrifying." Things that are really gruesome, or things with kids – I'm very easily scared by that stuff.

But you're very relaxed talking about sex.
I think it's stranger to me that people are shy about it. Because I know embarrassing sex stuff does happen! People aren't just like, "Hi, I love you. We're gonna be together forever." And then no weird noises happen.

The military-rape sketch was such excellent satire, both of gamer misogyny and the military. How did the idea come to you?
One of our writers, Christine Nangle, saw a movie called The Invisible War [about sexual violence in the military] and pitched it based on that. We were excited because we want to do scenes that make people laugh and relay some information.

What do you think made you gravitate toward darker jokes?
I was a funny kid. But the thing that makes me ready to fire back at Mike Tyson while he's heckling me at a roast, or want to end a scene in the darkest way imaginable, comes from having to go through a really hard time at the age when I was forming my defense mechanisms. And it's something that I don't want to read about in Rolling Stone.

The characters you play can be pretty awful people, and they're always named Amy.
I believe there are really horrible truths about all of us and there are also parts of us that are beautiful and giving. A lot of the time I'm playing the girl who's a victim and you feel bad for her, and then in the next scene I'm a complete nightmare. And I think that's what people are like, with only a couple of exceptions.

You've talked in the past about being a pretty avid shoplifter when you were younger. What was your biggest heist?
It was just all from, like, department stores. I guess the impressive part was that I would return it for cash, and the most that I'd ever made was probably around $1,000. But I did it a lot.

And eventually you stopped? Did you come to your senses?
I didn't come to my senses. I got arrested.

Season Two of your show ends in June. Have you started working on Season Three?
We have a couple of scenes that we want to shoot on a plane. But it costs, like, 20 grand to shoot on a plane, and our show has no money – I literally get my hair and makeup done in church basements. There's a scene we want to do called Fuck Air that makes fun of Virgin Airlines and how overly sexualized it is for absolutely no reason. The flight attendants are all superhot, and the plane will be, like, 80 percent bathrooms and big blankets.

This story is from the May 22nd, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1209: May 22, 2014
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