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Queens Chronicle

‘Last Comic’ Comedienne Settles In Astoria

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2008 12:00 am

Amy Schumer has certainly been busy these days. After coming in fourth place on NBC’s reality show “Last Comic Standing” last fall, her career as a stand-up comic and actress has skyrocketed.

Schumer has been chosen to star in a pilot for Comedy Central called “Reality Bites,” which will poke fun at reality television. With episode titles like “Are You Smarter Than a Monkey?” and “Amazing Disgrace,” each episode will spoof one specific show.

This isn’t the first time Schumer has teamed up with Comedy Central. She has developed a Web series for the station and more recently, on April 13, interviewed celebrities including Matthew Broderick and Sarah Silverman on the red carpet at “Night of Too Many Stars,” a live event to bring public awareness to autism.

Since “Last Comic” ended, Schumer, who has since moved to Astoria, has also appeared on “The Ellen DeGenneres Show,” “Best Week Ever” on VH1 and has written for Cosmo magazine.

“‘Last Comic Standing’ has done wonders for my career,” she said. “I went from being completely unknown to having a fan base. It’s been a crazy year. But I feel the same. I still love comedy. I just don’t have to sort mail to make a living anymore.”

Though she admittedly doesn’t perform in Queens, she says that because of its proximity to Manhattan, it’s the place to be if you’re making your living as a comic. “I honestly think over 60 percent of the comics working in New York live in Astoria,” she said.

One of her newest projects is The Collective, a theater/production company that develops original works for both stage and screen. Schumer also has been producing comedy shows through Collective Comedy, with line-ups boasting the likes of Demetri Martin, Laurie Kilmartin and Arj Barker.

A 1999 graduate of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, Schumer is known for her razor sharp wit and irreverent humor. Taking to performing at an early age, her family and friends always knew she would be on stage one day.

And her sharp sense of humor was always evident. At the end of her senior year in high school, her classmates voted her “Class Clown” and “Teacher’s Worst Nightmare.”

“It’s kind of cool that these things I’ve been punished for my whole life, now they’re starting to pay off,” she said. “I wasn’t an outcast by any means, but I always felt a little different and a little off, and I always knew I was funny, but I had to mask that a lot of the time. What was most important was being a pretty girl. I would push that to the side and try to make people laugh.”

Schumer attended Towson University, graduating in 2003 with a degree in theater. There she honed her comedic timing, but also took on more dramatic roles. “I loved both the comedy and the drama,” she said. “My favorite performances were ones where I could make the audience cry with laughter, then make them cry with me. I really got cast in both (types of) roles, the roles where you needed good comedic timing but had to be able to pull on people’s heartstrings.”

Like many aspiring actors, Schumer moved to New York City after college, waiting tables and tending bar while she auditioned for roles. She studied intensively for two years at the William Esper Studio, which focuses on the Meisner technique, a natural and realistic method of acting. She received critical acclaim for her role in the off-Broadway play “Keeping Abreast,” a black comedy about a woman coping with breast cancer.

Schumer began her stand-up career on a whim. One day, while walking past the Gotham Comedy Club, she decided to go inside to find out how she could get on stage. The club happened to have an opening for a show that night, but she had to bring at least four people. So she called her mom.

“I said I was going to try stand-up and asked if she could come into the city that night,” Schumer said. “She said, ‘Do you have any jokes?’ and I said, ‘I’ll figure it out.’ I have the VHS of that first time. It was pretty horrible, but I got a good response, and people couldn’t believe it was my first time. Ever since that night I’ve just been pounding the pavement and doing it every night.”

To learn more about Amy Schumer, visit www.myspace.com/amyschumer or www.thecollective-ny.org.

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