Bombshell Blonde


Thanks to her uncensored and deeply personal humor, Amy Schumer has become America's hottest comedienne, with a hit movie under her belt and a viral sketch show going into its fourth season. The downside: her new status as a lightning rod. Can funny survive fame, controversy, and even tragedy? Bruce Handy finds an unusually honest star struggling to stay fearless.

By Bruce Handy
Photos by Annie Leibovitz

One afternoon late last fall, the writers and producers of Inside Amy Schumer were sitting around a long table in their Manhattan production offices punching up scripts for the sketch show's fourth season. The staff has six female writers and four male writers—an unusual ratio for TV comedy, where most series are lucky to have one or two women on their writing teams. Schumer is herself a writer and executive producer on the Comedy Central show, which premiered in 2013, and though another producer sat at the head of the table and appeared to be nominally in charge, the star guided the discussions and script revisions with a gentle, collaborative, but firm hand—modeling a positive female leadership style, as a business-school text might put it. She gave the writers space to get silly, even preposterous, as they pitched lines, before bringing the table back to earth, making a decision, and moving on to the next joke. For instance, one of the male writers half-seriously pitched a line referencing a particularly rarefied genre of pornography. “That's a thing?” Schumer asked. Assured that it was, she paused as if mulling it over, then put on the sweet but brittle voice of a Jennifer Garner character: “Let's not educate our audience about that.” The table laughed.

Not that Schumer, 34, is shy when it comes to human bodies and what can be done with and between them, and the many social implications thereof. She made a name for herself as a stand-up by being every bit as graphic and sexual as any male comic, while also bringing an anthropologist's eye to the subject. “Are you that girl from the television who talks about her pussy all the time?,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus asks her in a sketch from Inside Amy Schumer' s third season, when Schumer, playing herself, stumbles upon Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, and Patricia Arquette, also as themselves, having a bucolic picnic to celebrate Louis-Dreyfus's official “last fuckable day” in Hollywood. “In every actress's life, the media decides when you finally reach the point where you're not believably fuckable anymore,” Louis-Dreyfus explains. “Who tells you?” Schumer asks innocently. There are signs, Fey says. “You know how Sally Field was Tom Hanks's love interest in Punchline and then like 20 minutes later she was his mom in Forrest Gump ?” And actors? “They're fuckable forever. They could be 100 and nothing but white spiders coming out but they're fuckable,” Fey says, pantomiming a hand job.

As cutting as that sketch was, it may not have been the season's smartest or funniest take on Hollywood sexism. Another contender was a deadpan, pitch-perfect parody of 12 Angry Men, co-directed by Schumer and shot in black-and-white homage to Sidney Lumet's 1957 film, with a cast that included Jeff Goldblum, Paul Giamatti, Vincent Kartheiser, and John Hawkes as jurors trying to come to a unanimous verdict on whether or not Schumer is “hot enough” for TV. (“I definitely don't think she's protagonist hot,” insists one juror. “But Kevin James is?” replies Hawkes, in the holdout Henry Fonda role.) The season opener approached Topic A from yet another angle: a fake music video titled “Milk, Milk, Lemonade,” which parodied hip-hop's obsession with female booties (i.e., “where fudge is made”) with Schumer and a crew of dancers twerking and whatnot in front of a lascivious camera to lines such as “This is where her poo comes out…. This is what you think is hot.”

The show's blending of raunch and pointed satire (well, most of the time; the hip-hop sketch plays better and sharper than it maybe reads) has managed to amuse Comedy Central's bro-centric audience while also winning the show a Peabody Award as well as last year's Emmy for outstanding variety sketch series. Schumer's smarts and frankness, along with an underlying sweetness, were equally essential to the success of her first feature film, Trainwreck, released last year, which she wrote and starred in for director Judd Apatow, playing a character named Amy loosely modeled on her stand-up persona, which is loosely modeled on herself—a female counterpart to the substance-abusing, commitment-phobic, potty-mouthed man-boys who populate so much of contemporary film comedy.

To be sure, Schumer is not the first female comedian to work blue or acknowledge that, like most people, she enjoys sex, but few would be as forthright and unapologetic about it—as male, if you will—as she was last June, when she declared, while accepting an honor at Glamour U.K.'s Women of the Year Awards, “I'm probably like 160 pounds right now and I can catch a dick whenever I want. Like, that's the truth. It's not a problem!”

Theory of Relatability

If Hollywood gave out trophies for agents, managers, and publicists, Schumer's team would have won one last year, too. Trainwreck built on the accolades and viral appeal of Inside Amy Schumer, grossing $110 million in the U.S. upon its release in July. Schumer followed the film with a well-received and decently if not spectacularly rated October appearance hosting Saturday Night Live and, a week after that, the premiere of her first HBO special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, directed by Chris Rock. Throughout the year Schumer graced multiple magazine covers, looking genuinely sexy for American Glamour, which put her in a powder-blue dress and bra, and ironically sexy for GQ, for which she wore Princess Leia's “slave” costume and seductively sucked C-3PO's left index finger. (Inside the magazine she was photographed giving a blow job to a lightsaber.) In the spring she was a candidate to take over The Daily Show, a potential opportunity she ultimately withdrew from. In 2014, she canceled a book contract for $1 million with HarperCollins and, this past September, signed a new one, for $8 to $10 million, with Simon & Schuster. (The result, a collection of essays now titled The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, will be published in August.) She was named one of Time' s 100 Most Influential People and one of People' s 100 Most Beautiful. All of which went toward making Schumer the biggest breakout star of 2015, unless maybe you count BB-8.

“This sounds cliché, but she is so incredibly ‘relatable,’ ” Kent Alterman, the president of original programming at Comedy Central, said, employing a reviled but useful term of art in Hollywood. “To have someone that smart and talented but at the same time that relatable is rare. And I think partly what fueled her popularity so quickly is that what she had to say resonated for both men and women. She kind of transcends gender—ironically, because a lot of her stuff is about gender. But it's never alienating. It's relatable to men and women simultaneously.” The ratings back Alterman up: the audience for Season Three of Inside Amy Schumer was 63 percent male, on average—just four points lower than the network's norm.

Still, a new sketch that I watched Schumer and her writers work on may put that to the test. It involved a group of expectant mothers getting together to boast about the masochistic extremes they'd be putting themselves through before and during delivery because, as the repeated refrain goes, “it's better for the baby.” Sample dialogue: “Did you know you need extra calories while you breast-feed? Yes, which is why, after my husband chews through the umbilical cord, I'm gonna braid it together with a Twizzler and just kind of gnaw on that as like a fun snack. It's better for the baby.” The sketch was written by Jessi Klein, an executive producer and the show's head writer. I'll spare you the staff's riffs on how to describe what a vagina looks like after birth; rest assured, they were funny.

The next sketch that came up at the table was written by Schumer and seemed to reflect the downside of her annus mirabilis. In it, she plays herself, getting coffee at a Starbucks, where the barista and various customers react to her celebrity. Someone wants to take a selfie, then grabs Schumer's “boob” to be funny. Someone else asks for $100 “in small bills.” The barista, who confuses Schumer with “Fat Amy from the singing movies,” demands that she make a video and text it to the barista's brother. The joke throughout is that, no matter how accommodating Schumer is to her fans, they turn on her. “You're a four,” someone tells her. “I was gonna pirate Trainwreck, but you've changed,” sneers another.

At the table, the writers took parts and read the sketch aloud, prefatory to punching it up. When they finished, Schumer joked that the line readings had been almost too hostile. “I think everyone played it like you hate me,” she said. “But that's just inside you.” Meaning the writers shouldn't confuse their own loathing for her with the characters' slightly less intense loathing. More laughs.

As the group began discussing the sketch, someone asked Schumer how much was drawn from real life. Pretty much all of it, Schumer said, although the sketch's final interaction, where a woman who admires Schumer's legs then begins eating one, was presumably metaphorical.

“We Got into a Meatball Sub”

A couple of weeks later Schumer and I met for an interview at her apartment, on a pleasant but nondescript block of the Upper West Side. It was well after dark. We met on the sidewalk after she pulled up in an S.U.V., driven home after another long day at the midtown production office. Her apartment, recently purchased, is at the top of several flights of stairs, and as we entered and she turned on the lights, she apologized for its being a mess, explaining that a girlfriend had crashed on her couch the previous night after a fight with a boyfriend. In Schumer's words, “We got into a meatball sub and some scotch last night. Like, I'm not going to let her get drunk alone.” Which is exactly the kind of thing you'd hope Amy Schumer would say by way of introduction. But aside from a casually strewn blanket, the apartment didn't look like a mess to me—certainly not what you'd expect the “Amy Schumer” character's to look like after a long night of female bonding. (No array of little airplane booze bottles. No empty trays of Double Stuf Oreos.) The apartment, with its odd angles and eccentric layout, reminded me of the kind of funky-charming New York apartments that young single people somehow land in movies and TV shows but almost never in real life—a perfect pad for Holly Golightly or Rachel Green. Schumer's Emmy and Peabody Awards looked nice on the shelves.

I also noticed multiple framed pictures of Schumer and a gang of girlfriends. Their faces were even smiling from the cover of a throw pillow. “It's all my friends from high school—these girls, these monsters,” Schumer said, with affection. “They're afraid I'm going to forget about them. So, like, they keep buying me things, to remind me of them.” She said that she had made sure to introduce them all, seven in total, to Jennifer Lawrence, her newest friend. (The two had made headlines vacationing in the Hamptons with Schumer's girlfriends over the summer.) She also said that a chunk of her afternoon that day had been devoted to wrangling tickets for the entire group to the premiere of Lawrence's final Hunger Games movie, which was taking place the next night. “I was like, ‘I have to bring all my friends from high school.’ They”—Lawrence's people—“were like, ‘Are you serious?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, if I go and don't bring them, it'll be an issue.’ ”

I mention this because, as with the Starbucks sketch, Schumer seemed very consciously torn between who she had been for the first 30-odd years of her life and where work, fame, and opportunity seem to be taking her. She said that her schedule was fully booked through July, “things on top of things,” what with the sketch show, stand-up appearances, film work, events, fund-raisers, promotional obligations. She was grateful … but. “I love all the things that I'm doing,” she said, “but that all my time is accounted for? I'm not Joan Rivers, where I'm like, ‘A full calendar is happiness.’ I would love to do nothing, like waking up and not knowing what you're going to do that day.” She sighed. “The other day I was so overwhelmed I left work an hour early and I just went and watched Labyrinth on my sister's couch.” Labyrinth ? The 1986 Jim Henson movie in which David Bowie played a goblin king with a wig that made him look like an evil blond mushroom? “It was a big deal in our house growing up,” Schumer said with a rare trace of sheepishness. “It holds up. I mean, the movie's weird, but it just felt so good to just lay there, while it was still light out, and watch a movie.”

By her account, Schumer logs a lot of time on her sister's couch. Kim Caramele, who lives just 10 blocks from Schumer, is younger by nearly four years, is married (to Vincent Caramele, whom she met as a freshman at Pace University in Westchester; Amy was one of two witnesses at Kim's courthouse wedding), and is not to be confused, not entirely, with the younger married sister named Kim in Trainwreck, who was played by Brie Larson. The real sisters get along better than their movie counterparts, and have since they were girls. Amy was born on the Upper East Side, but following a financial setback the family moved to Long Island, where Kim was born and where the girls were constant companions growing up in various towns, including Rockville Centre and South Hempstead; according to Kim, they even worked side by side as teenagers and young women in the same bars and restaurants, making their way from Turquoise, a boardwalk joint in Long Beach, to the Stanton Social, a scene-y Lower East Side restaurant where—if for some reason you want to—you can order Philly-cheesesteak sliders with truffle-and-goat-cheese fondue. Amy and Kim remain constant companions, their only significant hiatus aside from college (Amy went to Towson University, in Baltimore) being the four years when Caramele moved to Chicago, where she worked as a school psychologist. But Schumer talked her into moving to New York to work on the second season of Inside Amy Schumer, where Caramele continues as a writer and producer (as does, in the latter capacity, her husband, Vincent). Kim was also a producer on Trainwreck and the HBO special, and the sisters have collaborated on a screenplay for a mother-daughter comedy, re-writing an original script by Katie Dippold ( The Heat and the forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot); that project will star Schumer and Goldie Hawn and is scheduled to begin shooting May 23 with director Jonathan Levine ( The Night Before, Warm Bodies ).

Followers of Schumer's Twitter and Instagram accounts, where she often posts pictures of herself and Kim, know Caramele as #roadmanager, a nickname she acquired when she worked for her sister in that capacity after she joined the staff of Inside Amy Schumer. “I'd go to all her [stand-up] shows,” Caramele said. “I was really the liaison between her and the venues. I'd talk to the venue, make sure that everything was O.K., that she had everything she needed, that the house was opening on time. Which is funny, as one thinks back on it, because usually when you see people and their managers, they don't look like me. I would show up in sweatpants and braids, and people would be like, ‘Who the fuck is this girl?’ I'd be”—she affected an angry, manager-y voice—“ ‘This stool doesn't have a back and it should.’ And they'd be, ‘Uh, what … ?’ But it made sense because I wanted everything to go well because I love her and care about her. It was a really natural protective thing for me to do.”

I told Caramele that it sounded as if she helped keep her sister on an even keel. Not exactly, Kim replied. “She's not like this dramatic person who will call me with problems every night. She doesn't call for emotional support. It's more like if she tweets something or posts a picture of herself on Instagram sitting on a toilet, I'll text her and be like, ‘Babe … ?’ And she'll be like, ‘Sorry!’ She used to ask me, like, ‘Can I tweet this?’ And I'd be, ‘No!’ But now she doesn't ask me and I just yell at her after the fact.”

Let Her Entertain You

Schumer said she cannot remember a time when she didn't want to be a performer. “As soon as I could make expressions, I was trying to make my parents laugh.” The way a lot of kids do, she and Kim enjoyed putting on family shows, along with their older half-brother, Jason Stein (now an avant-garde jazz musician, playing bass clarinet, which, as a primary instrument, is probably even rarer in jazz than the harp). But from the beginning Amy was committed to her craft. “My sister and brother liked to play characters that already existed, like Snow White, but I liked to make up my own characters, and I'd walk around as that character in the house, and people would address me as her. Madame Lavitchky was a big one. She was a fortune-teller. I would wrap my head and turn a glass vase upside down and I'd give readings to everyone, very dramatic. Like ‘Your husband's going to die at war.’ Crazy shit.” Fans of her series and comedy specials have seen snippets of young Amy from old home-video clips, including a tag at the end of the HBO special in which a five-year-old Amy sings “Let Me Entertain You” with preternatural verve.

“She was a feisty young girl. She always had a sparkle,” said Chuck Schumer, the New York senator, who despite that avuncular observation is actually Amy's second cousin once removed. He hasn't been particularly close to Amy's branch of the family, he explained, but “her father and I played stickball together,” which in New York is a sacred bond. (More on Amy and Chuck in a bit.)

The “Let Me Entertain You” job description and performance style haven't changed all that much over the last three decades. Adult-film stars aside, stand-up comedians are surely the most exposed of entertainers: one person, armed with only a microphone, trying to make a probably hostile and likely drunk audience laugh. It takes nerve. And I think it's fair to say that for female comedians in our stubbornly sexist society it takes even more nerve, or thicker skin. Schumer claimed she never felt fear or anxiety as a stand-up comic, even when she was starting out just after college, dabbling in open-mike shows while taking acting classes in Manhattan. (She had been a theater major at Towson; she's since put her senior thesis, on the male gaze, to good use.) “I don't experience it that way,” she said, referring to the fear of facing an audience. “Something's wrong with me. I mean, you have to be delusional because you're not good for a long time. But people just are nice and lie to you.” Note: comedy-club patrons are generally not known for being nice or for masking their disapproval, so Schumer's latter observation is probably a tribute more to a short learning curve on her part than to any forbearance from her early audiences.

In a credo-like essay she wrote several years ago for Cosmopolitan, titled “How to Be Ballsy—In Any Situation,” Schumer described a turning point in her stand-up career. In 2007, she had been a contestant on Last Comic Standing, the NBC summer reality competition, coming in fourth—her first serious national exposure. She and her fellow competitors then embarked on a three-month, 42-city tour. By her account it started well, but as the tour dragged on and moved from big cities into the hinterlands, she found she was bombing out with audiences. She wasn't sure why, and creeping insecurity only made things worse.

One night toward the end of the tour, I was in the middle of my set and I delivered this joke: “My boyfriend is always turning on the lights in the bedroom right before we have sex. I shut them off; he puts them on. The other day, he asked me, ‘Why are you so shy? You have a beautiful body.’ I said, ‘Oh my God, you are so cute. You think I don't want you to see me. Awww.’ ” No laughter from the crowd. But this time, I didn't just move on. I said, “You guys are wrong! That was funny.”

That assertiveness—confident but naked too, in its bruised insistence on getting her due—won the audience over and remains a hallmark of Schumer's comedy. “She has an unbelievable degree of confidence in herself. She definitely has the courage of her convictions, and she's proven herself right so often,” said Alterman, the Comedy Central executive. But Schumer's increased visibility and a probably inevitable post-success backlash among fans, the media, and colleagues and competitors in the entertainment industry have forced her to calibrate her public presence in a way she hasn't had to in the past. “Amy's not used to filtering herself,” Caramele said, but she's being nudged into learning how. For instance, Schumer apologized last summer on Twitter for an old joke of hers that had resurfaced on social media: “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.” The joke was criticized as racist, though when we spoke Schumer was repentant only to a point, falling back, in part, on the mea sort of culpa used by many comics when accused of being offensive: (a) their job is to push the envelope and accidents happen, and (b) a joke is a joke, and funny is funny (this is true as a scientific proposition but maybe less so as a social one).

“With that joke I remember thinking, Who should I use?” Schumer said, describing how she came up with it in the first place. “Like, it's a formula. I got the wording of ‘consensual.’ I thought, You know what? Latin guys will be best. Because you can't say black guys. I could have said white guys, I guess, but the choice was, like, arbitrary.” She added of the controversy, “I just think that's selective outrage. It's like, Well, wait. What about the jokes I made about AIDS and the jokes I made about black people? Those were O.K.? I've made a lot of jokes about white people.” She pointed out that she'd also listened to a lot of Jewish jokes over the years, and told some herself. “People feel how they're going to feel,” she said, wavering between equanimity and irritation, adding, “I was just kind of like, I'm a comic. Like, can we just skip this thing where I become famous and then you guys look to burn me at the stake for something? Is there any way we can skip that?”

I asked Judd Apatow, her Trainwreck director and a stand-up himself, if he worried that Schumer's new lightning-rod status would cause her to censor herself to the detriment of her comedy. He wasn't concerned. “I think she is as fearless as ever,” he says. “She is smart and will make thoughtful adjustments now that a much larger audience is listening. Our friend Colin Quinn”—who played Amy's dad in Trainwreck —“discussed the dangers of speaking out publicly about sensitive topics when he was promoting his book [ The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America ], and he said, ‘You can say whatever you want if you really mean it.’ I think Amy is brave and she means it. She will always say what she thinks is important to say. That is why people love her.”

“Torn and Screaming”

Schumer's career intersected with a stubborn American sickness on July 23, 2015, when John R. Houser, a 59-year-old mentally ill drifter who had legally purchased a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol from a pawnshop, opened fire inside a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, that was showing Trainwreck. Two young women were killed, and another nine people were wounded, before Houser shot and killed himself. His journal, which Lafayette police released in January, revealed that he had been inspired by the mass shooting in June of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

Schumer was in Los Angeles the night of the killings, still doing publicity for Trainwreck, then about to enter its second week of release, when she noticed “a million” missed calls from her publicist on her phone. “I was laughing before I called her back, because I thought it was going to be like a sex tape [had surfaced] or something. So I was kind of laughing, like ready to … ” Schumer paused. “And then she told me there had been this shooting.” Schumer paused again, her eyes moistening. “It really … I don't know. It's like when the Dark Knight shooting happened, and in Paris. The idea of people trying to go out and have a good time—you know, like looking forward to it?—I don't know why that makes me the saddest.” She was crying now, but speaking in a steady voice. “So my publicist told me. And then I put on the news. I was by myself in a hotel, and I was just like, I wish I never wrote that movie.” She knew intellectually that she had nothing to do with the shooting, but friends who reached out and tried to comfort her, telling her the shooting wasn't her “fault,” only made it worse. “I just felt helpless and stupid,” she said.

Soon she felt angry too. She contacted the victims' families and made donations on their behalf. She also vowed to work toward ending gun violence and begin educating herself on the issue. Her cousin the senator reached out to her. “I got a call,” she said, “and he was like, ‘Amy, this is your cousin Chuck.’ And I said, ‘I hope this is you asking me to help with guns.’ He laughed. ‘Yeah, that's what this is.’ I was like, ‘Let's go. Let's do it.’ ”

“It was clear to me she was a true believer,” Senator Schumer said. “She was smart. She was knowledgeable. She really cared. This wasn't just something to advance a career.” The two Schumers have started a campaign, Aiming for Change, to build support for the legislation the senator has introduced that would close background-check loopholes for gun purchasers and help eliminate “straw purchases” by middlemen. You can't help thinking, Good luck with that. Amy, who has also filmed a video for the group Everytown for Gun Safety, said she is well aware of the odds against her but seemed more concerned with the stakes. “Every event I go to, you see the same people, and they're wearing a button of their kid, or kids, or their mother, or someone who died and didn't have to. And they're like, ‘Thank you. Please keep going.’ Because, unfortunately, someone with some celebrity brings more attention to it than a politician.” That is demonstrably true by one measure: Twitter followers. As of mid-April, Amy had 3.95 million followers to Chuck's 134,000—a near-30-fold difference. So far, their campaign has consisted of two press events and a hashtag, but, the senator said, “Amy is invaluable.”

The next time I saw Schumer it was a freezing-cold day in February. She was shooting Inside Amy Schumer on a soundstage at a tumbledown studio in the distant reaches of Brooklyn. Rumor had it that the studio had been home to numerous porn productions in the 1970s and 1980s. “We hope it was just the 70s and 80s,” Schumer said. She was directing a new sketch, a surreal sitcom parody. It begins as a barely exaggerated take on the fat-husband-hot-wife genre (see: The King of Queens, According to Jim, The Flintstones ) and ends when Schumer's next-door-neighbor character, again “Amy,” stops getting laughs from the otherwise easily amused studio audience and, as a consequence, is dragged off by a pair of what the script described as “ Hunger Games style peacekeepers” while the show within the show carries on without her. “Off-screen,” the stage directions read, “we can hear Amy being torn apart and screaming.”

She had had a very busy two and a half months since I'd last seen her. She'd caused a stir by posing nearly nude for Annie Leibovitz for the 2016 Pirelli Calendar; been nominated for a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a comedy for Trainwreck (she lost out to her pal Jennifer Lawrence, for Joy ); appeared at a gun-violence event at the White House; inadvertently told the world that her relationship status had changed when she Instagrammed a picture of herself in front of the White House with her sister, her brother, and her boyfriend of less than two months standing, Ben Hanisch, a furniture-maker (“We're in love,” she told me, but declined to reveal how they had met, saving that story for her book, though she did say he had barely known who she is and had seen stand-up only once in his life); been accused by several comics of stealing jokes (accusations subsequently rescinded); begun a stand-up tour of arenas, her first as a headliner (her brother's trio opened for her on several dates, probably confounding her rowdier fans); had Inside Amy Schumer picked up for a fifth season by Comedy Central; and been cast in her first “serious” film role, in Thank You for Your Service, a drama about veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, written and directed by Jason Hall, who previously wrote American Sniper. (The new film started shooting in Atlanta in March.)

Having received numerous death threats thanks to her public musings that the Second Amendment might not 100 percent require arming lunatics, Schumer had also acquired a bodyguard since I'd last seen her. Burly if not quite Dwayne Johnson-size, he stood outside her spartan, cold trailer—the heat wasn't working—while we talked and she ate some microwaved, not very appetizing-looking eggs for a late breakfast. Cable sketch comedy is not a glamorous world.

The day before, she had shot the pregnancy sketch that I'd seen her and the other writers working on. She had Instagrammed a photo of herself wearing a prosthetic belly, which prompted gossip sites to speculate that she and her new beau were already thinking of having a baby. She hadn't seen those reports but laughed about them when told. “It's all fucking crazy,” she said, it being her public omnipresence. “I feel like right now I'm going to crack down and keep myself more private for that reason. Which feels, you know, kind of counter-intuitive as a comic. But I don't know—it seems necessary.”

I played armchair psychiatrist and brought up the endings of the Starbucks sketch, where the Amy character is eaten alive, and the sitcom sketch, where she's dragged off the set and torn apart. Were these expressions of someone who felt that the world was shining too bright a light her way, that maybe she was losing her sense of self in the glare?

“That's not a major theme this season,” she said, shrugging off the idea. “You're witnessing the two sketches where it came up. And we're really sensitive to that, because nobody's like, ‘Tell us more about what it's like to be a famous person!’ But there is that too. It's like my experience now is of a normal woman, who's 34, who's in a relationship, and then I'm also still a pretty newly famous person, and that's what I want to talk about onstage.” She mentioned Jerry Seinfeld, surely the richest stand-up in the history of the art form—give or take Bob Hope—who still does observational jokes on normal-guy subjects such as doughnut holes and Hungry-Man dinners. “What's he supposed to do [for material]?,” Schumer wondered. “ ‘Private jets—right, you guys?’ ” Clearly not. But for herself, she added, “I want to be honest about what's going on with me”—she flies private, too—“and not be like, ‘I'm still just like you!’ I don't know. I'm trying to navigate it honestly and figure it out.”

She needed to have hair and makeup done for the next sketch, so I left the trailer and went back to the soundstage, where the crew was shooting a sketch that the star herself doesn't appear in. It looked to be a dark, savage, and very funny critique of the law, passed by Congress in 2005 and signed by President George W. Bush, which protects gun manufacturers from virtually any liability when their products are misused in, say, mass shootings. Whichever way life seemed to be pulling her, whatever the stresses and pitfalls, Schumer was going to keep talking.
To watch AMY SCHUMER give JENNIFER LAWRENCE some unsolicited advice, go to VF.COM.