Interview: Amy Schumer talks about having a healthy body image, criticizing Glamour and making people happy

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Amy Schumer. Photo provided

Amy Schumer. Photo provided

In between uproariously raunchy jokes about feminine hygiene, sexual preferences and shady massage parlors, Amy Schumer delivers pointed messages about body image, extreme dieting and double standards for men and women, hot-button issues she also covers in her TV show and movies.

“I think with the women we’re exposed to so constantly in media – movies, magazines, TV – they’re so thin. And they look beautiful, and most of them are healthy and good. I also know that the majority of them are hungry,” Schumer told me in a phone interview last week from her native New York City.

“These methods that they prescribe for us to use as diets they’re like what people used to help themselves during World War II.”

In an interview for The Oklahoman and NewsOK before a pair of stand-up shows in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Schumer, one of the hottest comedians working today, talked to me about what she learned from her decision to publicly criticize Glamour magazine for including her in its special plus-size issue. She recently took to Twitter to express concern about girls being led to believe her Size 6-to-8 body is plus-sized.

“I took issue with Glamour, first of all not telling me, because I have a good relationship with them, and it was kind of shady the way they didn’t let me know,” she said.

“I think what I took away from it is it’s just not good to label anybody as plus-size. Some people might like not mind that, but it has a connotation with it; unfortunately, a negative connotation. I think if women see my body and they think, ‘Oh, that’s not really OK, either,’ I don’t think that’s a good message. I think the standards of what’s beautiful are not realistic and not healthy. And I want young women and women of all ages to see someone with my body type and think, ‘That’s good. That’s beautiful. That’s OK. I think that’s a healthy thing.

“On stage, I like to play around with the ridiculous standards of Hollywood and sort of how I’m seen through the eyes of the industry. And then I make fun of myself a little bit. But I think you leave that show knowing that I do feel good about myself — and that I want everyone in the audience to feel good about themselves, also.”

Whether she’s making movies or television, readying her first book or taking her racy stand-up show on the road, Schumer, 34, said she her goals are “to try to make people laugh, but also to just feel better about their own lives.”

Although her pointed pen and producing duties make her a rarity in Hollywood — in 2014, 80 percent of films had no female writers, while 33 percent had no female producers, according to a San Diego State University study – Schumer said she still prefers performing live.

“It’s just totally the best. It’s like everything else is very annoying. To get the jokes to the people in a movie or in TV or anything else, it’s like it has to go through so much work and it takes like months and months. This, it’s like it comes out of my face and it goes right into their ears, and then it’s like immediate gratification. Or not – and then I need to work harder,” she said with a laugh.

Still, expanding the scope of her career has come with certain advantages.

“You get to express different things different ways. Like, my TV show is so satisfying to do, and it really just drives these points home … and it reaches people in a unique way. It’s like, if I just said on stage, ‘Women, we need to stop saying “I’m sorry” so much,’ and I joke about it, that doesn’t really hold the same weight as seeing a whole scene, like seeing the behavior. Or seeing a scene where we can’t take compliments. It’s just a whole different way of kind of communicating with tons of people,” she said.

“But also, it’s been really fun to all the sudden have a bunch of money. It’s so fun to be on the road. You know, the way I’ve been on the road for a decade it’s just hard and you’re lonely and it’s awful. …Now, I get to travel in first (class) and with my family, who’s on the road with me.”

In this image released by Comedy Central, Amy Schumer appears in a scene from her comedy series, "Inside Amy Schumer."

In this image released by Comedy Central, Amy Schumer appears in a scene from her comedy series, “Inside Amy Schumer.”

Continuing ‘Inside Amy Schumer’

Her stand-up tour coincides with the Season 4 bow of her popular Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, which has won a prestigious Peabody Award along with two Primetime Emmys. The fourth season of the sketch series, which features Schumer as its creator, star, writer and executive producer, premieres at 9 p.m. Central Time Thursday, but it already was renewed months ago for Season 5.

“I’m so excited for people to see this season. You know, I love our show, and there’s a little bit of a message in a lot of the scenes. And it’s also just silly and fun. We make fun of ourselves just as much as anybody else,” Schumer said of her eponymous series, which has featured guest stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Goldblum and Patricia Arquette.

“There’s a ton of celebrities on the show this season, which is fun. I mean, we’ve had a bunch before, but like this season, it’s just cool. But we only cast people in roles where they’re like the best one for their roles. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, could you imagine if Liam Neeson played that role?’ And then like, ‘Oh he said yes.’ And we’re like, ‘What?’ It’s a weird feel, but it’s great actors. I think it’s the best season.”

After the critical and commercial success of last year’s racy romantic comedy Trainwreck — which not only marked Schumer’s first time to play a lead movie role (opposite Tulsa native Bill Hader) but also notched the first cinematic script she has penned – the acclaimed writer, producer and actress has several projects planned for the big screen, too. She is set to star with Goldie Hawn in an untitled mother-daughter adventure comedy directed by Jonathan Levine and is developing an as-yet-unnamed project with another of Hollywood’s hottest stars, Jennifer Lawrence.

The comedic actress has even branched into drama, starring opposite Miles Teller in the upcoming indie film Thank You for Your Service, about U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to resume their family and civilian lives.

Plus, Schumer will release her first book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Aug. 16 via the Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books.

To read more of my interview with Amy Schumer, click here.

–BAM

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