Confidently self-deprecating: Inside Amy Schumer’s second season on Comedy Central, theater tours and an Apatow-backed movie

A few minutes into the third episode of second season Inside Amy Schumer, we see Schumer onstage delivering stand-up to a captive audience, declaring: “Nothing has changed. I still dress like shit. They just like squeeze me in this right before I came on.” The dress, you see, does not befit her. “I usually wear American Apparel. I like to be draped in sweatpants. Don’t you guys feel that way?”

The more Schumer’s comedy career and her audience keeps expanding, the more she wants to remind us that she hears the haters, too. And she sympathizes with them. Hell, she’ll make the joke herself.

And she does right in the opening sketch of Inside Amy Schumer‘s second-season debut tonight on Comedy Central — an all-male focus group tasked to assess Schumer’s first season of comedy offerings, focuses instead solely on her physical assets. But Schumer finds a way to take away only the grin from chagrin.

She’ll overhear disparaging things from her boyfriend, then jump out of the cake anyhow.

She’ll be described as a “tomboy” by a group of guys, but the joke’s on them when they figure out what’s really turning them on.

When a high-school girl insults her at a prom by calling her Joy Behar, one of Schumer’s retorts is: “You think you could follow Tosh??!!”

It’s a delicate balance.

Confidently self-deprecating.

Calling The Comic’s Comic from Chicago before her Friday night stop on her nationwide stand-up comedy tour, Schumer had just received a nomination from the American Comedy Awards as one of the top 10 “concert comics” of the year. She should be on top of the comedy world. In addition to her theater tour and the Comedy Central series, she’s also written and starring in the upcoming movie, Trainwreck, in which she’s gotten Judd Apatow to direct and Bill Hader to co-star with her.

“It feels great. What a great list,” Schumer said of her fellow nine nominees for the American Comedy Awards honor.

But does it bolster her confidence moving forward? Not so much.

“I would say nothing. As someone who’s taking nightly beatings at the back table of the Cellar, I know enough not to get ahead of myself,” Schumer said. “I think my confidence is forever shattered because of the Comedy Cellar.”

Being on the road offers different comforts now.

“It’s going great. It’s really nice. I’ve got my sister with me. She just keeps me really focused and grounded, gives me notes on my set,” she said.

Schumer’s sister often appears in her Instagram photos labeled simply as #roadmanager. And that’s how a nickname is born? “People will yell out ‘Road Manager!’ to her. And I’ll call her out onstage during the show.”

Plenty of comedians pop in and out of Inside Amy Schumer sketches — from writers such as Kurt Metzger, Christine Nangle and Neil Casey, to stand-ups Nikki Glaser, Dan Soder, Ali Wong, Rachel Feinstein, Jim Norton, Jim Florentine, Michael Ian Black, Bridget Everett, Colin Quinn, Reggie Watts, Jon Dore and many more. The second season also has attracted bigger names from TV and film, too. Josh Charles gives us a look at his post-The Good Wife life in a sketch poking fun at Aaron Sorkin (Charles also starred in Sorkin’s Sports Night) with The Foodroom. Zach Braff plays Schumer’s husband in a poker-night sketch that crosses the conversational taboo line. Paul Giamatti plays God, literally, with Schumer’s herpes diagnosis.

Roll that clip.

Schumer said casting actors such as Giamatti certainly was easier once she had a track record of sketches to show them.

“It’s easier than asking, ‘You want to do the first season of my cable show?’ But maybe…,” she said. “Paul was able to ask around. ‘Should I do this?’ ‘Yeah. I love that show.’ And he loves the scene. He said, ‘That actually made me laugh.'”

That sketch also includes a callback to Tig Notaro’s cancer scare. Notaro wrote and co-starred in season one of Inside Amy.  This season features some turnover, with new writers. Having had the chance to see the first season, did they bring new ideas to the table?

“They brought all their own sensibilities,” Schumer said. “Such strong incredible writers. Like Jermey Beiler…He appeared in one scene in the first season…He would think bigger than the show. More parodies of other shows.

“And then Christine Nangle who was from SNL and Kroll Show. She wrote the American Warrior video game sketch. Just a strong point of view.

“And then we have Neil Casey. Killer. One of the strongest dudes out of the UCB. And he wrote for SNL, too. He’s absurd. Really out there.

“Emily Altman (wrote) ‘I’m So Bad’ (in episode two). She was a great fit for the show.”

Here’s a sampling of what they have in store for you:

Inside Amy Schumer began last year with a bang and a first sketch take-off on the infamously offensive “2 Girls, 1 Cup” video.

Was there a mandate to start season two with an equally strong message or mission statement, by having the focus group of men pick you apart superficially rather than weigh in on the content of your show?

“I got to direct that scene. I wrote it, too. I really wanted to direct that scene,” Schumer said, adding that the idea to open the season with it was born in the editing process. “That would be really aggressive and fun. And I’m not even in that scene that much.”

As for the hypersexualized criticism? “I don’t think I experience it any more than any other women,” she said. “It’s not a foreign concept that women are judged mostly on their appearance.” Not that that’s the punchline, anyhow. “It’s also commenting on me at the end. I’m not, ‘This is horrible.’ Maybe some guys would bang me. Whatever people want to take from that scene.”

What did Schumer take away from watching her comedian friends act with her? Anyone particularly impress her? “I guess none of them.” she joked, adding: “Actually but I would say: The girls. I thnk Nikki Glaser. Nikki and Rachel (Feinstein) are super strong actresses. They surprised me. And then it’s great that I know they’ll nail it. I won’t have to worry. Same with my sister. She had to replace a couple of people in some scenes, actually.”

With Comedy Central exhibiting such a strong slate of sketch programming now, was there a need to differentiate Inside Amy Schumer from the others (Kroll Show, Key & Peele) on the network? “We’re always careful not to overlap,” she said. “We take a look at it all…We’re really just driven by doing the funniest stuff from my perspective that we can. No goals like trying to separate ourselves or make a big splash. We really just want to do the funniest show we can.”

Which results in sketches like this one, “Finger Blasters,” from the second episode of season two for a fun way to serve food to your children:

Here’s a sketch in which she goes to couples counseling, only to find out the therapist is supermodel Chrissy Teigen:

The series, executive produced by Schumer with Daniel Powell and head writer Jessi Klein, continues to mix in stand-up bits with on-the-street interviews and “Amy Goes Deep” segments that show off Schumer’s natural personality. It’s like HBO’s Real Sex, emphasis on the real without revealing all of the sex. More organically engaging, too.

Seeing Schumer now, how far she has come since hosting “Collective Comedy” nights for her theater company in a small upstairs theater in a Flatiron District office building, she maintains a level head about her growth.

“It feels like I’m doing the right thing, following the right path,” Schumer said. “It didn’t feel that far off from hosting and producing those shows. I hosted comics and produced scenes and was writing. A lot of my friends were on those shows. And then, at the end of the night, we would celebrate with a glass of wine…

“I still feel very grounded on where I started and where I’ve come from, and this is just on a bigger scale.”

Inside Amy Schumer returns tonight on Comedy Central.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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