Amy Schumer not a Trainwreck when it comes to sex and booze
When you meet Amy Schumer she's just as likely to hug you as shake your hand.
"Coffee? Pringles? Want to watch a movie?" she asks in greeting. "Let's just go get a drink."
Schumer, 34, came to Toronto to promote Trainwreck, the comedy she wrote and stars in with Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James and Vanessa Bayer; Judd Apatow is the director.
In Trainwreck, opening Friday, Schumer plays a hard-drinking, round-heeled magazine writer named Amy who thinks that romantic commitment is for idiots; then she falls for a sports doctor (Hader) she's been sent to interview. Schumer's character is someone every woman will recognize and she's riddled with insecurities.
So just how close is the movie Amy to the real Amy?
"You mean -- am I a trainwreck?" she asks, and she smiles that wickedly innocent smile.
"We got real close. I don't drink that much. I mean, I drink. I don't take shots and like, black out! And I don't get laid half as much. Not even a quarter.
"But other than that, other than the embellishment of the sexual activity and the intake of sort of, ah, narcotics and alcohol, that's all real."
The nearest thing to truth in the movie, says Schumer, is her character's close relationship with her father, played by Colin Quinn as an irascible, hilarious guy with no filter. Schumer is very tight with her sister, too, but that sister (despite what the movie suggests) is not a suburban housewife with a nerdy husband.
Actually, Schumer's sister Kim Caramele writes with her, works with her and is in the room with us during this interview.
The version of herself in Trainwreck, says Schumer, is closest to who she was as a sophomore in college. "I was just spreading myself really thin. You know, at college, you go to a bar or a party and it's so packed, so awful, that you have to drink your way through it -- like, the only way it could be fun would be to join them, and get yourself really drunk? And I think that could be a metaphor for everything else, because I just can't get myself into that mindset to enjoy things it seems most people can. I think I'm an introvert."
The introvert studied theatre at Maryland's Towson University, moving back to her native New York after graduation and working up the courage to make her standup debut at the Gotham Comedy Club when she was 23. Schumer appeared on the reality show Last Comic Standing in 2007 (she came fourth); just prior to that she was asked to appear on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham series, which proved to be fortuitous. She continued to work the club scene, but Schumer drew a lot of attention for her routine at a Charlie Sheen roast in 2011. The following year she made the special Mostly Sex Stuff and then became one of Comedy Central's bright lights in 2013 with Inside Amy Schumer. That show made her a household name.
Schumer will open for Madonna at the singer's three New York shows in September; right now she's working on another movie with her sister. They're reshaping a script originally written by Katie Dippold (The Heat), a mother/daughter comedy about a holiday gone awry. Schumer says she'll play the daughter.
She's also touring alongside Aziz Ansari on the aptly-named Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival this summer (it stops at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre on Sept. 6).
How has success affected Schumer's insecurities?
How will success affect her love life?
"I can tell you, the stuff I've worked out in therapy is that I'm not afraid to accept love now," says Schumer, thoughtfully. "It's still a bit of a struggle, but I can do it and I feel like I deserve it."
Success will no doubt be just one more transition Schumer will negotiate with humour. She says that's how she survived a major transition in childhood, when her father's bankruptcy and her parents' divorce created a riches-to-rags scenario.
"I was like, 12, when that happened. We moved from a huge house to like, a shack in a bad neighbourhood. But it was fine... It was really just the size of the house and my mom had to go back to work." And in her family, comedy helped. "Everyone was so sarcastic. To a fault, almost. We would just make jokes about everything."
She adds, "Now, I have to be careful and make sure I'm really experiencing something and not just brushing it off with jokes."
Does Schumer's serious side surprise a lot of her fans?
"I'd say I disappoint about 50% of the people I meet. And that's okay!" the actress jokes. "I like those numbers!"
Mind you, she says, there was that one time a guy saw Schumer taking off her pants in an alley ...
Her sister explains: "We were looking for a liquor store and we couldn't find one. We saw a guy walking by while Amy was changing into a skirt and we asked him where the liquor store was."
"Right! And I didn't know he knew who I was," says Schumer, picking up the story. "So I was taking off my sweatpants in an alley and putting on a skirt," she says, acting out the awkwardness of it all, "and I was like, 'Excuse me, do you know where a liquor store is?'
"That was a moment I felt I really delivered on my persona: pantless and looking for booze."