June 29th, 2015
Comic Laurie Kilmartin interviews Amy Schumer after the WGA screening of “Trainwreck,” which comes out July 17.
WHO KNEW SHE COULD ACT?
Okay, if you’re not totally familiar with who Amy Schumer is, and why she’s about to explode as the biggest female comic of an entire generation, you should start by watching the incredibly brilliant parody she did earlier this year of the classic 1957 movie, “12 Angry Men.” She’s going to win a stack of awards for that one effort alone (plus she’s already won a Peabody Award for her Comedy Central show now it its third season).
She wrote and directed the episode, shot in black and white, and with pitch perfect music scoring of sultry saxophone straight out of the 50’s. More importantly, the cast is stunning — Jeff Goldblum, Paul Giamatti, and Dennis Quaid as the judge. You can watch a clip of it here.
That episode is equaled by her tea party with Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the skit about a high school football coach who says “no raping” to his team and … the list goes on and on. In fact, Salon tells you about 15 of her feminist sketches that you will cheer for.
So last night my friend Holly Wortell (Emmy winning writer, producer of The Bonnie Hunt Show and Second City cast member and now instructor, in fact she was my improv instructor a decade ago!) took me to the Writers Guild screening of Amy’s new movie, “Trainwreck,” which was followed by a Q&A with Amy that was as entertaining as the movie.
The first thing to say is who knew she was that good of an actor. That’s what hits you halfway through the movie when she gives a speech at a funeral. You could feel the whole audience saying “whoa,” as she tore it up.
In the Q&A several people asked about that scene and her acting ability. Turns out, yes, she was seriously trained in acting from an early age. In fact, she spent two years studying Meisner Technique with Bill Esper in NYC who was Sanford Meisner’s protege (the crazy acting teacher who tore me apart at the start of my first book was a Meisner instructor — she was always screaming at us about Bill F-ing Esper).
The movie itself is hilarious and by far the funniest thing I’ve seen this year (better than Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy”). The opening scene with Colin Quinn (which I don’t want to give away) is unbelievably funny and sets the bar impressively high. So many of the cast give perfect performances. LeBron James is great, and pro wrestler John Cena is outlandishly funny (in the Q&A she said he rewrote 80% of his material producing all the funniest stuff himself — he’s amazing for a big ox of a guy).
As great as the movie was, the Q&A was almost better — in part because it featured a stack of men who totally embarassed my gender. The moderator, Laurie Gilmartin (veteran standup comic) did a great job of interviewing her, then opened it for questions, which is when it turned both odd and hilarious.
After saying in the interview part that much of the movie was autobiographical, I swear, no less than three men asked her in their questions, “So like … how much of this movie came from your own experiences — like was autobiographical?” After the third idiot asked this, Laurie burst out singing, “When women speak, men don’t listen!”
And then one creepy old dude probably in his 50’s said, “I have a question for your vagina.” It was horrrrrible. The same comment from a 22 yr old kid might have almost worked, but from this guy it made the whole crowd groan, then Amy chewed him up, telling him what a creep he was. By the end of the session people were looking at each other asking, “Where did these guys come from?” (whadya expect — a bunch of writers who rarely go outside)
ANGRY AUDIENCES AND THE COMING FEMINIST WAR
As much fun as the audience was, and as bold as she is as a comic, I have a terrible feeling she’s in for some rough times ahead. In fact, I almost asked a question, but didn’t want to shift the mood into something too serious.
What I was about to say would have been, “Did you read the article in the NY Times today, “Regulating Sex,” about redefining the criminal definition of rape on campus using the catch phrase of “Yes means yes”?”
There’s no denying there’s a new chill in our society that is going around and not clear where it is going to stop. In a fairly major landmark just this month Jerry Seinfeld talked about how political correctness is ruining comedy and a large number of comics have agreed.
Which means there’s a potential disconnect coming between Amy Schumer’s boldness — particularly with feminist issues (and she is indeed amazing, making you cheer for her courage) — and this atmosphere on campuses of creating a legal situation in which the accused in a date rape case is literally “guilty until proven innocent” as the article talks about.
The NY Times article is fascinating reading. We live in a conflicted time, and I’m afraid she’s going to emerge in the bullseye of everyone wanting to argue these issues. Already just yesterday she was accused of being a racist and forced to tweet a clarification that she is not.
She’s a supreme talent, but I fear she’s also about to emerge as a major target. She even talked about how much they’ve gotten away with on her Comedy Central show for three seasons saying that nobody really notices it much.
This movie, when it comes out in a couple weeks, is going to jump her way out there into a different realm. Hope she’s ready for it.