When Inside Amy Schumer premiered last April, it had the best first-episode ratings for any show on Comedy Central and got quickly renewed after only four episodes. The series successfully mixed often over-the-top scenes with standup, man-on-the-street interviews, and conversations with unique professionals, with Schumer always at the wheel.
Tonight, the show returns in full force, with a second season premiere called “Would You Bang Her” in which Schumer interacts with God (guest star Paul Giamatti), plays tennis, and goes deep with a porn producer. Recently, I got the chance to talk with Schumer, who in addition to Inside Amy’s 10-episode second season is on tour doing standup and will start filming soon for Trainwreck, a movie she wrote and is starring in to be directed by Judd Apatow. Schumer told me about season two, working with her sister, and how she feels about certain topics being off-limits for jokes.
How far along are you in the production process for Season 2?
Oh, it’s locked. We’re done editing everything.
How does that feel?
It feels really good. My sister and I work together, she’s with me. She’s one of the producers on the movie I’m working on, and she’s on the road with me. We’ve been editing the show on the road. Just a week ago we gave in our lock slips for the last episode of the season, and we both looked at each other like, “Oh my God! That’s it.” It was a huge relief and we’re really excited and proud of the season, but there is some sadness. Our work is done.
What was it like working with your sister? This is the first season that she wrote on the show, right?
Yeah, she started as the blogger and then really helped produce a bunch of the sketches this year. I can’t officially say she’s a writer, but she is. It was amazing. It was a dream come true. We’ve always been super duper close and it’s been our dream to collaborate together. We live together. I couldn’t have gotten through this season or my life without her being so involved.
There were a lot of changes on the writing staff this year. How did that influence the upcoming season?
We lost two and we gained three and a half-ish. So we still have the same head writer and we did have a bunch of returning writers so it’s one of those things that we have the same energy but with new brains in the room. But everything has to pass through through my sensibility and what makes sense for our show. I don’t think that anyone will notice a drastic shift but I think it’s really strong.
I’ve seen the first three episodes that were screened for critics, and there are a lot of guest stars. Is that just a natural progression for the show as it increases in popularity or did you purposely set out to have more guest stars this season?
No, I don’t think we did. We only used the funniest actors and luckily a couple of those actors were fans of the show, and they reached out to me and asked if they could be on it. And then some people, their schedules just didn’t work out for last season. It wasn’t a calculated move, it just kind of worked out that way.
Two of the guest stars that stand out for me are Paul Giamatti playing God and an Aaron Sorkin parody with Josh Charles. Were those different from having comics that were more familiar with sketch on the show?
You know, a lot of the comics on the show are not from sketch, they’re just straight standup. Most of it’s just my favorite New York actors. I know it’s categorized as a sketch show, but we really write them as scenes and I think they’re playing to the strengths of good actors who work best in the format of a TV show.
You mentioned that it’s your friends from New York and there are scenes where you’re out on the streets talking to New Yorkers; how important to you is it that the show is in New York?
I was born and raised in New York, and I love it there. It’s my home, and I love the crew. I’ve been working with this crew for three years because, before this show, they were all together working on Delocated, Jon Glaser’s show on Adult Swim. I love them, and I think it’s the right energy for the show. Doing man-on-the-street interviews with a palm tree behind you doesn’t carry the same substance it does with a dumpster in the distance.
Did you learn anything particularly helpful from working on season one that’s changed your approach to the second season?
I learned a ton. I learned to trust other people and have the right people on staff who know how to do their job well and who care about the show. And I learned that I could be someone who’s running a TV show,with confidence. I learned that I can make a TV show.
How do you find and arrange for the guests for “Amy Goes Deep” in each episode?
We think of who we want to ask questions to, like what real person who does a profession that we’ve never gotten to have a conversation with – someone who does that job or has that lifestyle. We just pitch who’s the most interesting person I could talk to and that we have questions for. I think we just put ads on Craigslist. There’s a pre-interview with a producer and then I watch those interviews and select based off those.
Finding a ballerina or porn producer seem more straight-forward since those are professions, but is it different finding a guy with a huge penis?
It’s actually not different. Just an ad.
In your sketches, you joke about topics like herpes and AIDS and cancer. In one of my favorites from season two so far, you play a war video game as a female character in the military who gets raped. Last year you said Comedy Central doesn’t really censor your material. Is there anything you personally would never joke about?
Yeah. I mean, even like that scene, it’s not a joke about rape. In the first season, it’s not a joke about AIDS.
Still, some people wouldn’t go near that topic.
Oh, yeah. I don’t know, maybe. There’s definitely some things I think I wouldn’t go near. Someone’s kid. There’s some things I wouldn’t go near. But as long as you’re coming from a good place and you just want it to be funny and it’s not just for the shock value, then I think it’s okay. I don’t ever joke about something because, “Oh, I’m not supposed to do this.” I’m not like “Nothing’s off-limits!” I don’t feel that way. I want people to laugh. I want to make them feel better; I don’t want to offend them.
Were there any things you were too afraid to try in season one that you felt more comfortable trying after you knew the show got renewed?
Nothing that I was afraid of. Some scenes I really wanted to shoot in season one but weather didn’t permit or we didn’t have the money. There’s a tennis scene that’s in the first episode [of season two] that we couldn’t shoot the first season because it was 18 degrees outside or something, so we just said, “All right, we’ll do it if we get another season.” There’s just stuff we didn’t get to in the first season or didn’t have time for that we were like, “Okay, this is a priority this year.”
And then were there things this year you weren’t able to do?
Definitely. That’s why I’m hoping to get an early pick-up for season three, so we can start planning.
In one of the scenes from the premiere, you have a focus group of all males who critique the show just in regards to your body, and while I hope that’s exaggerated I know it comes from a real place. What do you do in situations where anything close to that happens?
I don’t think that’s a unique experience to me because I’m a comedian or because I have a TV show. I think it’s common to being a woman in general and knowing you’re evaluated. I encounter that every day, as I think every woman does. I feel differently about it on different days. That’s why at the end of that scene, I’m like “Oooh! They like me.” Some days I might be cool with getting value from that, while some other days, it’s frustrating to the point of tears.
Is there anything that you’re especially excited for this season?
There’s this one scene that my sister was heavily involved in the production of, which was the voiceover scene, I think in the fourth episode. I get cast in a new animated movie, and the reveal of what my character looks like is less than flattering. I think that’s probably the funniest scene of the season, and it’s exciting because it was such a heavy collaboration with my sister.
Can you tell me about Trainwreck? Is this your first time writing a feature?
This is my second time writing a feature.
How far along are you in the process with that?
The script is pretty close to being done. I’m sure it will keep evolving through shooting. We start shooting in New York in May, and a lot of the main roles are cast. We’re already in rehearsal.
Is there anything else you want to talk about?
I just want to use this chance to tell people to check out the standup and the comedy of a bunch of people that are on the show this season: Bridget Everett, Jessi Klein, Chelsea Peretti, Nikki Glaser, Rachel Feinstein, and Natasha Leggero. They’re just my favorite comedians, and everyone should check them out if they haven’t already.
Season 2 of Inside Amy Schumer premieres tonight on Comedy Central at 10:30 EST.
Jenny Nelson is a writer located in Brooklyn.