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September 14, 2011

Meeting Amy Schumer at Bumbershoot
by WomenInComedy - 0

By WICF Contributor Barbara Holm

After watching ten hours of stand up in three days at a festival, a normal human might be tired or ready to go live in the real world. Luckily, I’m not programmed that way. Instead, I found myself weaving quickly through hundreds of festival-goers enjoying the last days of warmth before 10 months of rain. Ignoring the sun-kissed populace, I made my way into a dark indoor theater. I snagged a front row seat in what was about to be another sold out comedy show.

Bumbershoot, Seattle’s Labor Day weekend performance arts festival, is in its 40th year. I saw a lot of amazing stand up, including but not limited to Hari Kondabolu, Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik, Andy Haynes, Rory Scovel, and Baron Vaughn. On the local stage (which was booked by Seattle’s People’s Republic of Komedy) my favorites were Rylee Newton, Ian Karmel and Mike Drucker.

Amy Schumer was wonderful in the festival. Her writing is so tight; she had a punchline in practically every single sentence. Relying on garden path sentences and misdirection, she established herself as a clever one-liner comic, without being obvious about telegraphing in which direction the punchline would go. She is a very witty joke writer with cheerful, confident delivery.

After the show I just happened to run into Amy, completely on purpose. I was shy and awkward, but she was nice, sincere and even let me ask her a few questions about comedy! Amy has been doing stand up for seven years, which is impressive considering she has a super funny Comedy Central Presents and has performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She placed fourth on Last Comic Standing when she was only three years in. I asked her if she was scared on that show and she said, “No, I knew I just had to have fun with it and enjoy every minute of it.” It was such a positive message that I am going to try to apply it to my own approach for work.


Video of Amy Schumer taking on a heckler. For more videos, see her website www.amyschumer.com.

Amy grew up on Long Island and began her comedy career in New York City. I’m always interested in how people feel about starting out in such a large, competitive scene. Amy articulately and sweetly explained, “I equate it to learning how to surf. If you learn how to surf on the short board, you can surf on anything. If you learn on a long board, you can only surf on that.” And New York City is definitely the shortest of the comedy surf boards.

A question I love asking headliners is whether they have any advice for new comedians, and they almost always say some form of the same thing — so it must be true. “Stage time,” Amy said confidently. “That’s it. There’s no shortcut.”

Amy Schumer was hilarious and smart on stage, establishing herself as one of the stronger comedians on the festival. She was extraordinarily friendly, funny and earnest in conversation and overall delightfully inspirational for me.

Amy’s album Cutting (which is great!) was released in April of this year. She has a recurring role on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. For more information, go to www.amyschumer.com.



Barbara Holm is a stand-up comedian from Seattle, Washington. She has performed at Bridgetown Comedy Festival, The Women in Comedy Festival, and Bumbershoot Festival. She has been described as clever, creative and unique.
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