The two sides of Amy Schumer are filling our TV time.
There’s the standup-comedy side, big and blunt and brash. That may emerge when she co-hosts (with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall) the Academy Awards, at 8 p.m. Sunday (March 27) on ABC.
And there’s the subtle side, in the richly layered humor of her “Life & Beth,” which has just arrived on Hulu. “I actually am an introvert,” Schumer told the Television Critics Association.
Say what? Surely, this “introvert” can’t be the person who stands onstage, telling intimate details to strangers. “I could probably use a little more self-control in real life …. I’m sure I’ve shared more than some people would have cared” to hear, she said.
That type of person is just what the Oscars need, after three straight no-host, no-fun years. But her Hulu role is far more subtle. “Beth’s definitely based on a side of me,” Schumer said.
The similarities are striking. Like Beth (which is Schumer’s middle name), she grew up with a Jewish father, a mother who converted to Judaism, and a sister. Like Beth, she lived comfortably until her father went bankrupt; the family moved to Long Island and her parents divorced.
In the Hulu series, she keeps claiming she’s happy and trying to blend in. That all fits, Schumer said.
“I think so many of us have these conflicting sides …. I feel supremely confident and also (have) really low self-esteem.” When someone asked her for one word that describes her, she chose “hypocrite.’”
Her comedy tastes were honed early. “As a child, I loved watching the Muppets and ‘Fraggle Rock’ …. And I loved watching ‘Saturday Night Live.’” She was voted “class clown” in high school, but didn’t try stand-up until after graduating from college and living in New York, taking acting classes and working as a waitress and bartender. That caught on after she finished fourth in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
Along the way, Schumer also started a theater group with Kevin Kane … who continues to be in her shows. “It’s usually crafted as some embarrassing thing she wants me to go through,” he said.
This time, he’s Matt, the bad boyfriend. There are other bad guys, plus one played by Michael Cera. “It was a really great opportunity to introduce sort of a gentler character,” Schumer said.
She created the series, wrote many of the episodes, directed four of them and offered a strong mix of emotions. “Life is major trauma and pain and then being able to laugh about it,” she said.
At Oscar time, she might simply be fun – or might have some serious moments. Schumer has Ukrainian roots, as does Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, her second cousin. She has strong views on many thing,s including feminist issues.
One example is the scarcity of studies of female ailments, including endometriosis, which Schumer has. “Women have been such an afterthought,” she said.
They aren’t in “Life & Beth”; chances are, they won’t be with Schumer, Sykes and Hill on Oscar night.