In hindsight, all of Amy Schumer's current success seems predestined. The comedienne, having spent the last couple of years juggling various television projects and still managing to sell out venues all over the country, is one of the most successful stand-ups around today — and she stars in her own hit Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer.
Next week, Schumer returns to Jacksonville on Feb. 22 with her latest set, Inside Amy Schumer's Back Door Tour. If you're at all familiar with the funny woman's material, that title won't surprise you. "I want to talk about the things that interest me, and sex is a part of that," she told Entertainment Weekly last year.
Sex is actually a lot of that. Schumer is the latest female comic to push the envelope for laughs — but unlike male comics, who do the same without raising eyebrows, she catches hell for it.
As she explained on NPR's Fresh Air in June, "I'll get off stage and the club owner will say, ‘That was a lot about sex.' And they would never say that to a male comic. I didn't grow up hearing any women really delving into that side of themselves. So I thought, ‘OK, maybe I can be this person for women and for men just to hear the women's perspective in a less apologetic, honest way.' "
(Citing a last-minute issue, Schumer declined our interview request.)
Michelle Maclay, a veteran stand-up, says that the already-difficult field can be even harder for females who are perceived as being just another pretty face — and despite the strides women have made, there still lingers a misperception of inferior talent.
Sarah Colonna, a regular on the hit E! talk show Chelsea Lately, agrees that female comics continue to be treated differently.
Reminiscing while in Jacksonville performing at The Comedy Zone, she recalled the chilly reception that women stand-ups sometimes receive from their male counterparts: "There are certain places even to this day that feel a little bit more like a boys' club than a real comedy club. It's hard for anyone, period, when they are first starting out, and I'm sure there are just as many men that don't make it as women, but you definitely hit the point that there are some clubs you don't go to. They roll their eyes at you when you walk in, ‘Oh, here's another girl trying to be funny, whatever.' "
It's a fight Schumer is only too familiar with. Despite years of material crafted in front of audiences, and even with a self-titled weekly TV program under her belt, most folks are no doubt more familiar with her appearances on HBO's Girls and a stint on the Adult Swim cult hit Delocated.
With a starring feature on the horizon, helmed by Judd Apatow (who produces Girls), Schumer's star will only rise higher. But the leap from a local comedy club stage to the big screen can be a tricky one; for every Kevin Hart, there are a few dozen forgotten talents strewn along the way.
While Colonna is proud of Schumer's success and optimistic of what that could mean for other women in the field, she's hesitant to believe that much has changed in the executive offices where the big-money decisions are made.
"If Judd Apatow wants to work with Schumer, he grabs onto her," she says. "If someone sees money in a creative person, they grab onto it. It's all about taking advantage of opportunities, even if it's opportunities that you have to make