Brownstein: First Amy Schumer took Just for Laughs, then she took on the world

Fifteen years after appearing in the Montreal comedy festival series New Faces, he returns to accept the award for Comedy Character of the Year.

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In 2007, a relatively unknown Amy Schumer appeared in the Just for Laughs festival’s New Faces series.

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Fifteen years later, Schumer will collect the festival’s Comedy Person of the Year award on Friday.

“Montreal is proof that I’m not an overnight success,” Schumer jokes in a phone interview. “I tried to secure the Century, but I just got the Year.”

It may have taken a few years of paying dues, but the last decade has been a golden one for ever irreverent and self-deprecating ingenuity. Schumer has done virtually nothing wrong in what he has tackled.

Proof of this will probably be evident when he brings his Whore Tour to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at the Place des Arts, on Saturday at 7 and 9:45 pm.

Schumer has received Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Golden Globe, Writers Guild, Peabody, and Critics’ Choice Awards and nominations for, among other projects, her television series Inside Amy Schumer, her comedy specials Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo and Amy Schumer: Growing, his film Trainwreck, his documentary series Expecting Amy, his play Meteor Shower, and his book The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

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Schumer also became the first female comedian to headline New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

“(Achieving success) is about opportunities, and when we have these opportunities, what do you do with them? So I work hard and try to be as authentic as possible.”

She is also unpredictable. She switches from avant-garde stand-up to romantic comedy films and to very personal glimpses into her life.

“My goal has never been to become the biggest movie star. I just want to do things that I’m proud of, that can be fun and make people feel better.” Pause. “And of course I want to make money. I don’t want it to sound like it’s all on the job,” she jokes.

Regardless, her captivating series Expecting Amy, detailing the agony and ecstasy of her pregnancy, took viewers places they probably wouldn’t have expected from her or most performers.

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“That was also very powerful for us, in deciding to open that curtain. I don’t want to fall into doing a formulated job over and over again. I love seeing artists evolve, and I really try to do that too.

“In this age of celebrity vigilantes, there is something powerful for me about being the one steering the ship with the most intimate and unattractive moments and just being human. I just felt like it was an important thing to do. I am very lucky to have a partner who was equally open to sharing our very personal lives.”

Schumer’s partner is award-winning chef Chris Fischer, who collaborates with her on the Amy Schumer Learns to Cook program. Her offspring is three-year-old Gene David Fischer.

As for his culinary prowess: “It’s nonexistent.”

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No award or nomination for this, but Schumer gave one of the best improv performances at this year’s Academy Awards, in which he had to follow the slap heard around the planet: the one Will Smith delivered to Chris Rock. Co-hosting with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, Schumer kept his cool. But in an Instagram post three days later, she admitted that she “was still provoked and traumatized.”

Schumer will not soon forget the experience. Amongst everything else widely forgotten about that night is the fact that Schumer, Sykes and Hall brought life and lightness to a show that had been moribund for so long.

“But I really loved co-hosting and hope to do it again one day,” he says.

Not that he doesn’t have enough on his plate, but Schumer also found time to appear in the second season of the hysterical Only Murders in the Building. In an unusual piece of casting, Schumer plays Schumer, looking to buy the podcast rights to the crime series starring Steve Martin and Martin Short.

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“I love that show and I’m lucky to be friends with Steve and Martin. I did one of Steve’s plays (Meteor Shower) on Broadway. This paper came up and they sent me an email. I said, ‘Of course.’ “

All good, unless they criticize her for pushing too hard to acquire the rights to the podcasts. “I hope they never kill me.”

But she hopes to continue sweeping the stage. Not surprisingly, the title of her tour has drawn a lot of attention.

“I thought it was a funny name for a tour, and it rhymes. It doesn’t really relate to the show, but some newspapers don’t even carry the title and some theater owners are worried about putting it on the marquee. So that seemed as good a reason as any to use that name.”

Schumer is direct, as always, in laying out what mountains he still has to climb.

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“Menopause,” he snaps, before changing his tone. “Every day feels like a mountain, even at my level of privilege. Being a working mom and navigating the public eye and the misogyny that is present in all walks of life in all industries…it’s still a crazy time, a horrible time, actually, for a lot of people. … I really don’t think there’s anything funny about all these topics.

“I’m trying to figure out my voice right now. But I do think I will learn a lot from this tour.”

TAKE A LOOK

Amy Schumer will be presented on Saturday, July 30 at 7 and 9:45 pm at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the Place des Arts. The Just for Laughs Awards Show is Friday, July 29 at 3 pm in the DoubleTree Hilton’s Grand Salon Opera. Tickets: hahaha.com.

[email protected]

twitter.com/billbrownstein

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