A female comedian in a predominantly men’s craft, Amy Schumer managed to rise above the prejudice and become one of the best known feminist stand-up comedians and actors. With inspiration coming to her from her own personal life and lead by her bold humour, she soon became well known internationally, continuing to conquer a wide audience eager to hear her opinion.
Amy was born in Manhattan in New York. Her mother, Sandra, and her father, Gordon, owned a baby furniture company and they were considered to be quite a wealthy family when she was a child. Amy also has a younger sister, now a comedy writer and a producer that is also her road manager, and a brother that is a musician.
Amy was raised Jewish, as her father was born Jewish, from a Polish and Ukrainian ancestry. Her mother converted to Judaism when she married him, although she was born a Protestant, from an English and German ancestry.
In 1990, Amy’s father went bankrupt. As if that was not enough, he was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her parent’s marriage didn’t stand through the misfortunes, so they divorced soon after and Amy moved to Long Island where she attended high school and a Hebrew school. Being an energetic child, on her graduation, Amy was voted the Class Clown and Teacher’s Worst Nightmare.
When the time came to go to university, Amy moved to Baltimore where she studied and graduated in theater in 2003, at the Townson University. She then moved back to New York to study at the William Esper Studio and worked as a bartender and a waitress to support herself until she graduated from the Sanford Meisner Intensive program in acting.
After her graduation, Amy acted in an off-Broadway black comedy Keeping Abreast, where she played the part of a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2004, she started doing strand-up comedy, performing at the Gotham Comedy Club.
In 2007, Amy recorded Live at Gotham episode for Comedy Central. That same year she decided to try her luck again on the Last Comic Standing talent show fifth season, although her audition for an earlier season was not successful. This time, she got to the finals. ‘’Last Comic was totally fun.’’, she said about her appearance in it. ‘’I wasn’t supposed to do well. So every time I advanced, it was a happy surprise. I kept it honest on the show and it served me well.’’
Amy’s love for comedy was greatly inspired by her private life, as it usually is with comedians. ‘’I like to create stuff. I like to express myself through jokes.’’, she says. Her mother’s provocative sense of humor, and her father’s battle with illness, which made her experience a dark side of life, both affected Amy’s style of performance. ‘’I have a joke where I say: Oh, I’m going to bring my mum to a soccer game because I want to show her what boundaries look like.’’
Amy is also one of the people that experienced both being rich and being poor, which made her modest about life in general. About her success, she says: ‘’My dream was that I would be the head bartender in a restaurant in Times Square, so this is good.’’
Although she’s been through a lot with her family, she was raised with love that helped her build her confidence. ‘’I think of myself as a fairly attractive girl and always have, thanks to my mom. I was brought into this world thinking I was gorgeous because my mother was extremely devoted to this notion.’’, she says.
Just like with most comedians, Amy’s rise to success was relatively slow but steady. She had to go through numerous guest appearances in order to bring the public’s attention on herself.
In 2008, Amy appeared in the Comedy Central reality show Reality Bites Back, where she finished second in the competition. One year later, she shot a campaign for Butterfinger. During that time, all through 2012, Amy appeared as a guest on the late-night program Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, that aired on Fox News.
2010 brought Amy a big step in her career as she got her first Comedy Central Presents special, a half an hour show that focused just on her performance. Then, Amy got to be a co-host of the show A Different Spin with Mark Hoppus. During that time she also wrote for the Cosmopolitan magazine. Also that same year, she shot an episode of the WTF with Marc Maron, and appeared in 30 Rock, Delocated series and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls for the HBO. Amy then released her first stand-up comedy album titled Cutting, an LP that was described as being edgy.
Her success up to that point got her to premiere with a show on Comedy Central called Mostly Sex Stuff. It received very positive reviews. Then, she began work on another sketch comedy and created the show Inside Amy Schumer, that premiered in April 2013. The show became a success and is still running, five seasons later, being called the most feminist show on television. ‘’I was like: maybe I don’t need to do anything.’’, she jokes about her preparations when she was first offered the show. ‘’They asked me to star in a movie. Am I maybe gorgeous? I think every girl has this little secret suspicion. But then my stunt double was a guy.’’
In 2012, Amy also shot three films: Price Check, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Sleepwalk with Me. She also appeared in The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen and The Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr.
In 2014, Amy went on a Back Door Tour in order to promote the second season of her Inside Amy Schumer show. That same year she appeared on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
In 2015, Amy released the first film she played the leading role in, Trainwreck. Amy was the screenwriter of the film, which was directed by Judd Apatow. The film was a success, getting positive critics reviews, winning numerous awards and two Golden Globe Awards nominations as well as the Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.
That same year, Amy created another comedy special, this time Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo, which premiered on HBO and got nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards. The next year she announced that she was going on a world tour.
In 2016, Amy released her memoirs titled The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, which proved to be another success. She says that she kept detailed journals of her life for a period of ten years, which helped her come up with the materials for the book.
Currently, Amy is awaiting the release of the film Snatched, in 2017, where she stars alongside Goldie Hawn, for whom it will be the first film in fourteen years.
Since Amy’s humour is very progressive and bold, she got away with addressing many social issues through her comedy. Her skits are shared online, raising questions about sex and feminism. She was criticized by Monica Heisey of The Guardian for having a ‘’shockingly large blind spot around race.’’
‘’My comedy is unapologetic and fearless. Like, sometimes you’ll wind up having condomless sex with someone that you probably shouldn’t. I’m interested in sharing that part of myself unapologetically so that other people will hopefully feel better.’’, she says.
On July 23, 2015, a fatal shooting took place in a movie theater in Lafayette in Louisiana, when a man opened fire during the show of Amy’s film Trainwreck, killing two people and injuring nine before committing suicide. This tragedy made Amy advocate for a stricter gun control laws, as well as bringing greater attention and funding to the mental health issues.
Time magazine named Amy as one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2015. That same year, she got on a list of Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People.
When it comes to her looks, Amy is a very confident person, promoting a positive body image. ‘’I feel very comfortable in my own skin. When someone makes jokes about me being heavy, it makes me mad. It’s not true. I’m right where I should be.’’ When Annie Leibovitz chose Amy to pose nude for a photo for the upcoming 2016 Pirelli Calendar, the world applauded both of them. Amy tweeted her photo with a post: Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman. Thank you.
As it usually happens with comedians, Amy was accused of plagiarism and stealing jokes from her colleagues. She denied it, of course, and a group of other actors stood up for her. Tammy Pescatelli apologized for the accusations, confessing that it has all gone too far.
Amy is related to a US senator Charles Chuck Schumer. ‘’He’s my dad’s cousin. I definitely grew up knowing him – not knowing that it mattered that he was in politics, and not really dealing with it at all. The first time it came up was when my sister and I were arrested for shoplifting. We were arrested for grand larceny and the cops were like: You’re lucky you have this last name.’’ And they pleaded it down, to like disturbing the peace or something. I really thought that shit was off the record, until I was on Last Comic and they asked me if I had any arrests, and I was like: ‘’Eh, not really.’’ They have real lawyers, and they knew everything I’d stolen.’’
Amy frequently makes jokes about her sex life and relationships. ‘’I’ve had a lot of sex in my life, and, no bullshit, eighty percent of those were Irish people. Don’t applaud that. You know what that means.’’ She was in a relationship with Nick Nemeth, a professional wrestler known as Dolph Ziggler. She said publicly, joking or not, that sex with him was too intense and athletic for her liking.
She also dated a fellow comedian Anthony Jeselnik, host of the Last Comic Standing, on several occasions as the couple was in a on-and-off relationship.
In 2016, she announced that she was in a relationship with Ben Hanisch, a Chicago furniture designer.
When Amy talks about her craft, she makes it seem easy, as it probably is for her. She says: ‘’I think you can go from being not very funny to working really hard for ten years and figuring out how to make a living on the road, but I don’t think you can rise much above that.’’ Because of her talent but also the hardworking person she is, her career is still on the rise and we will surely see much, much more of her.
- The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Written by: Tamara Djordjevic