From receiving death threats by overeager “Jackass” fans to auditioning for a movie role as a Hispanic stripper, it’s been an odd but rewarding year for stand-up comedian Amy Schumer.
The 30-year old New York native first began making a name for herself in 2007 with her appearance on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” but her national breakout performance came during last year’s “Roast of Charlie Sheen” on Comedy Central – where she landed ferocious blows to Mike Tyson with jokes about his face tattoo and to Steve-O with cringe-worthy cracks about the death of his “Jackass” friend and co-star Ryan Dunn. The numerous death threats Schumer received in the aftermath of the joke caused her to briefly wonder if she should quit comedy, but instead she said she’s determined to “bring it harder.”
The result has been plenty of work in stand-up and in film. This year, Schumer has filmed the feature “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, and “Price Check,” an independent movie opposite Parker Posey that premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Before traveling to San Francisco to film a one-hour stand-up special for Comedy Central called “Mostly Sex Stuff,” Schumer stops through Chicago for the Just for Laughs Festival for her first big headlining gig in the city (June 13, Park West). She spoke to RedEye about her crazy year, why she loves the HBO show “Girls” and, of course, sex.
It seems like most people know you because of the Charlie Sheen roast and some of the controversy with you and Steve-O. Is that something that bothers you?
No, it doesn’t. It’s like…what people think about you is so out of your control. I just want people to know my standup.
Did you really get death threats from the joke about Ryan Dunn and Steve-O?
Yeah I got some stuff on Twitter and Facebook that was like “I hope you die,” but my management got at least 18 legit angry emails where they mentioned wanting to kill me and a couple where they were detailed saying “I’m going to kill her at this specific show,” so my management wanted me to cancel some shows. When someone actually says they have plans to kill you and mention a specific club, it was really upsetting. Comedy Central’s editor chose to cut to Steve-O looking very upset about the joke so all these young Jackass fans went after me. It sucked, it was scary.
Was there any impulse to tone down your act?
No. I thought to myself, Am I supposed to quit comedy? Then I was like “fuck no” and wanted to come even harder after that. The fact of the matter is, I’m not going to be everyone’s thing and I don’t want to be. If anyone was going be offended by that joke, I don’t want them to be in the audience in the first place. I’ve actually said no to some TV shows that would have given me more exposure because I don’t want the people that like that show to be in my crowd. It’s not just about numbers for me. I want smart people to enjoy what I’m talking about. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, too.
Who would you ideally roast? Does it get any better than Charlie Sheen?
I think whoever is in the hot seat at the moment. I guess like John Travolta right now with that stuff with him jerking off with the massage therapists.
If you did a roast in Chicago could you roast Rahm Emanuel?
Who is that? Umm, I guess my roast would begin and end with “I have no idea who you are.”
How well do you know Chicago?
Well, my brother is a jazz musician, and he’s lived there for seven years now. He lives in Ukrainian Village and I stay with him sometimes, and my sister and her husband got a house in Tinley Park. I try to find every excuse I can to come. It’s such a great comedy town. I’ve gone Chicago to do shows for six or seven years, but I’ve been trying to headline a big show in the city for years. So when I got this offer I was like, “Fuck yeah.” I’m totally excited. I hope people come.
You live in New York. Do you have any clever observations as far as New York compared to Chicago?
In terms of industry type shit, the way that L.A. people look at New York is how people in New York look at Chicago. “Oh, that’s so cute, you guys have comedy there.” It’s kind of arrogant. But the truth is that Chicago is probably the only other city I could find myself living in other than New York, and the good comedy scene is part of that. But in the city where my sister lives? That shit is like “The Midwest.” Cornfields and pep rallies and shit.