Feminist Comedy #SquadGoals:
The Rising Tide of Amy Schumer and the Importance of Lifting Up Your Friends
Nor has she lost sight of her funny friends who helped her and stood by her along the way.
As Schumer has scored a hit with Trainwreck, earned Emmy nominations for her Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, and stayed in front of our collective consciousness via magazine covers galore, high-profile speaking and hosting gigs — she has been returning the favor by including her inner circle of comedians and acting colleagues from The Collective.
For all the talk of how competitive show business — and particularly, stand-up comedy — can be, Schumer provides a refreshing reminder of the maxim, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
She’s certainly not the first comedian to use her star status to extend her success to others. David Letterman’s old stand-up buddies from his pre-TV nights at The Comedy Store made their way to his Late Night and Late Show panels multiple times a year throughout his 33-year-tenure in late-night TV. Chelsea Handler made her comedy friends writers and frequent enough panelists on her E! late-nighter that they became headlining stand-ups themselves. Adam Sandler’s movie career and Happy Madison Productions have continued to breathe life into the careers of dozens of his friends since he and they left Saturday Night Live in the late 1990s.
“I feel a responsibility and also a drive to really the support the shit out of other women.”
When Schumer presided over the 2015 MTV Movie Awards in April, she accomplished all of the things a comedian wants to do as host of a televised awards show — grand opening number featuring herself alongside the top nominees and performers of the year, snappy joke-filled monologue, funny montage — then she even fit in something you normally wouldn’t see from another awards host.
Later this spring on The Bachelerotte, when ABC asked Schumer to mentor and then roast the bachelors vying for Kaitlyn’s affections, Schumer not only included her three comedy BFFs — Bridget Everett, Rachel Feinstein and Nikki Glaser — but also gave them a rousing introduction to the bachelors and the primetime network viewing audience at home.
“I’m going to do my best to help you, but I did bring some of the best working comedians today to help you, also,” Schumer said in the May episode. “These are national headliners, and so there’s no one better that can help you guys get your acts together.”
Once more, Everett, Feinstein and Glaser enjoyed the opportunity to be themselves onscreen, performing stand-up on TV from the Hollywood Improv stage and also, as a bonus, having fun at the expense of the TV bachelors.
All three comedians have supporting roles in Schumer’s hit movie, Trainwreck, have appeared multiple times in sketches for Inside Amy Schumer, and each has her own Comedy Central project in the works.
“She isn’t doing anyone a favor…she is the one who is grateful for having talented friends who want to be in the things she makes.”
Everett’s first hourlong special, “Gynecological Wonder,” was the network’s way to formally introduce her into its audience’s consciousness. Last month, Comedy Central ordered both a stand-up special and a 10-episode weekly series for Glaser: Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, coming in 2016. And Feinstein is reshooting her own Comedy Central pilot (working title: Rachel Profiling) this summer to showcase her characters, stand-up and audience interactions, with Schumer as an executive producer on it.
Amy Schumer, on The Moment podcast with Brian Koppelman earlier this year, had this to say about being supportive of friends instead of jealous of others’ success: “My best friends are female comics. And we support each other so much. And not just my friends — I feel a responsibility and also a drive to really the support the shit out of other women.”
Similarly, Amy Schumer not only persuaded her sister, Kim (pictured above in that helicopter shot from Hawaii), to become her #roadmanager, but also has credited her as a co-writer/consultant on several Comedy Central sketches as well as consulting on Trainwreck.
For Howard Stern’s website, she plugged them as among her five favorites “you can’t live without,” saying this about each comedian…
(Everett) What Amy says: “Best live performer I’ve ever seen. Combines cabaret and standup. She is a killer.”
(Feinstein) What Amy says: “Impersonations of her family members are hilarious. Unapologetic and original.”
(Glaser) What Amy says: “She is the quickest mind out there today — irreverent but vulnerable.”
These women all lavish high praise on Schumer, too, speaking about her and their friendships on and offstage with The Comic’s Comic.
“I met Amy at Just For Laughs. She’ll tell you we met before that,” Everett told me. “Amy, at those festivals, there’s a million people running around, and comics, from the outside, it can seem a little insular. I can hide in my hotel room. Amy said come out have some wine, hang out. As wild as I am onstage, I can be a total fucking social recluse. Amy and I have similar senses of humor, enjoy chardonnay.”
Appearing together on TV, Everett said: “That’s obviously in no small part thanks to Amy. She really looks out for those around her. It’s not lost on me how much she’s done for me professionally, and she’s also a great friend. It’s enlightening to see how you can be successful and still help others.”
And Everett said of Feinstein: “Rachel makes me wet my pants, she’s so fucking funny. The stories she tells…tell me that story again!”
Feinstein, for her part, told me: “We have a lot of fun together and we relate to each others lives so it’s a natural support system that we found. I can call any one of these women when I’m on the road and field some weird, jarring comment I got on morning radio or a text of a dirty green room and they’ll know exactly where I am. I admire them. They’re hilarious and strong and I don’t know where I’d be without their support and insights. And every time I’ve had the urge to escape and wait tables in the middle of nowhere they’ll remind me not to give up and that I’d be a terrible waitress.”
And this, from Glaser: “I think it’s always a goal as a comic to be make it big enough that you can put your friends in things — not only to show off their talent and give them work, but so that you get to work with them. Amy is the most generous person to the people she loves.”
“But the thing about Amy is — she doesn’t put her friends in things unless she thinks they will be great,” Glaser told me. “The way she sees it, she isn’t doing anyone a favor. She has told me multiple times that she is the one who is grateful for having talented friends who want to be in the things she makes. And she really believes that. She just wants her friends to shine and I think she’s just grateful that she has the opportunity now to do so. As are we!”
This piece originally appeared on The Comic’s Comic, where I write about comedians and comedy every day they make something funny worth writing about! Which is just about everyday these days. So please keep updated here and listen to my podcast sessions with comedians, Last Things First. Thanks!