After its Season 3 premiere tackled rape culture via a Friday Night Lights parody, Inside Amy Schumer didn’t let up in Week 2. Viewers saw a cleverly embedded call for wage equality, a boy band backtracking mid-song after serenading Amy with “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup” (Schumer asked women to tweet her photos of themselves without makeup in response, which they did), Amy starring in a Miami-set detective series called Plain Jane featuring Dennis Quaid, Amy having another bad boyfriend, and the release of the official Amy Schumer doll.
Yahoo TV spoke with Inside Amy Schumer co-creator Dan Powell to learn the inspiration for each sketch and get answers to a few of our burning questions.
Just to confirm: That’s not a real boy band we should know singing “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup.”
No, it’s not a real boy band. They were all individually cast. Our casting director said that was the most fun she’d ever had in a casting session. The idea for that song came from one of our original writers, Kurt Metzger, who also wrote the “2 Girls 1 Cup” sketch and helped write the “Focus Group” scene that kicked off last season. He pitched that idea, and then we really worked out all the lyrics in the room. Then the song was composed by a friend of our writer Kyle Dunnigan, this guy Jim Roach. Kyle is a comedian, and on his last album he had a lot of songs, because he’s a great musician himself. So he hired the composer who had worked on his album, and they worked on the song together. Jim did most of the vocals himself, and then we sent the track to our casting directors.
"Literally, just have them listen to this in your offices.” We didn’t want to send the track to the performers, because we were worried it would leak out. So they would come in, they would listen to it, and then they would literally just go into the casting session and lip sync, and it was really, really funny and fun to pick who our four would be. It’s basically like we assembled a boy band the way I feel like most boy bands are assembled: It’s not like four guys just organically meet in school. Aren’t all boy bands generally put together by some sort of manager who just decides, “I’m going to assemble this group,” and then he handpicks people. That’s basically what we did.
So that was completely lip sync’d. I will say, to their credit, they were amazing at lip-syncing. Even the spoken word part in the song was totally lip-sync’d. That actor did an incredible job.
Like “Football Town Nights,” the sketch “Cool With It” addresses a serious issue hilariously. (A woman goes to a strip club with her male coworkers, pays for drinks and lapdances, and when the men accidentally kill a stripper, insists they leave her alone to do 100 percent of the work burying the body even though at the office, she makes $.78 on the dollar.)
Our head writer, Jessi Klein, came up with the idea for that sketch and wrote the initial draft before it came to the table. I think Jessi was initially most interested in the commentary on the pressure that certain women feel to just be like totally cool with it: "Hey, of course I’ll go to a strip club. I’m cool with it. I’m just one of the guys.” That sort of office-place peer pressure was really what she wanted to comment on. But then it was in the room, I think, that someone made a joke about how this woman feels obligated to be cool with everything even though she is, statistically, probably making less on the dollar than her male counterparts. When that point was brought up, we thought that might be a funny twist on it at the end.
And where did you film the strip club scene?
I think it was a strip club in Queens. We’re shooting there first thing in the morning, so I walked from the subway to get there. I walked in the entrance around the corner from where all of our trucks were parked, so there weren’t really any production vehicles outside. So I distinctly remember walking into the strip club at like eight in the morning, and two women were walking by on the street and just looked at me like, “Ugh, who goes into a strip club at eight in the morning?” They kind of shook their heads sadly at me like, “You poor, sad individual.”
“Plain Jane” was so great, I’m hoping it’s recurring.
Oh, this is a great story, actually. The concept for that came from our writer Tami Sagher, who is brilliant. She had just been at, I think, the American Music Awards and was hanging around near, like, J.Lo and all these incredibly famous people. She just made the comment that when you’re surrounded by that many beautiful people, you just feel utterly invisible. No one is acknowledging your existence, just walking right through you. And then she took that to be like, that would be the perfect detective: If I was a detective, and everyone was hot, then I could just act with impunity. That’s where the idea came from. Literally, she pitched the idea the weekend after the American Music Awards based on her own experience there.
How did Dennis Quaid come onboard to play Amy’s boss?
He reached out to us, or his manager reached out to us, and said, “Dennis is a fan of the show and would love to do something.” And we were immediately like, “Obviously, Dennis Quaid should be on our show.” We looked into a handful of roles, and that one just felt like it would be the most fun for him. It might have been super on the nose for us to have him play a handsome leading man type, but we thought it might be more fun to give him a fake mustache, and a bad haircut, and a little bit of a fake paunch, and have him play the grizzled police chief like Dennis Franz in NYPD Blue.
He appears in next week’s 12 Angry Men homage. Will we see him a third time this season?
No. Those are his two appearances. He flew in to do the show, God bless him, and those scenes were shot on consecutive days. If he wants to come back, I’m sure we will have him back. It was a real honor.
Amy is confused for a bag of leaves and an inflatable snowman. Is there anything that didn’t make the cut?
Not on set, but I’m sure there’s a list of like 40 things that were pitched in the writers’ room. One of them was going to be a baby goat, but we couldn’t use a live goat in the restaurant that we had because of the health code violation, and then we tried to get it to be a service dog, because you’re allowed to bring those in, but even that had some sort of union restriction on it. So eventually, we had to go with the inanimate objects.
What kind of discussions went into the making of the Official Amy Schumer doll?
Amy’s always had a joke in her standup act about how she has Cabbage Patch-like features, and we didn’t just want to go out and buy a generic doll and dress it up like Amy, so we actually had a doll maker make a custom head — and she made two versions. One of which is the one you saw, and then one that literally looked exactly like Amy’s face, just shrunken down, and it was the creepiest looking thing you’ve ever seen. Like an actual adult face on a doll’s body — it looked like something out of a horror movie. And I don’t mean that as any insult to Amy at all. If you took anyone’s face and shrunk it down, put it on a doll head, and made it out of plastic, it would look ridiculous. So we obviously went with the one that looked more like a legitimate children’s toy.
How did you work with the two young girls?
What’s important to keep in mind is that their parents are on set and fully aware of what’s in the script. The idea is they’re told to perform as if they’re in an actual doll commercial, which I’m sure these girls have probably done. They were so good at it. The shot where the girl says, “Uh-oh, time for Plan B” was literally the first shot of our season. We rolled cameras on principle photography and Amy was still in hair and makeup getting ready for her first sketch, so we started rolling on that. That really set the tone for the season. When you have a little girl making a Plan B joke, it was like, “All right, this is how it’s gonna go in Season 3.”
And the doll vomits.
You have a pump off-screen, so we had to get the timing right. They have to start pumping it like a half beat before her line ends. It’s really funny when you do one take, and then the props department goes in and wipes off Amy’s face, cleans it up. “Let’s go again.”
And last but not least, there’s Amy’s sponging aspiring rapper boyfriend. (She works herself into a coma trying to support his dream, and then he meets the “president of rap” at her bedside and leaves her as she’s “like, in this bed, actin’ a fool all boring like.”)
The guy playing the rapper is Kyle Dunnigan, the writer I told you about who co-composed “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup.” Kyle’s been with us from Season 1. If you’ve seen previous seasons, he plays a series of Amy’s terrible boyfriends. He was a skipping boyfriend in Season 1, and then he was the magician in Season 2 who seduces Amy. All of Kyle’s sketches come from just bits he does in real life. So the bad magician is just something he would do to make us laugh in the writers’ room, and we made it a sketch. He would actually rap like that to make Amy and all of us laugh in the writers’ room. It was like, “You have to turn this into a sketch,” so he wrote that one for himself basically. All of Kyle’s best stuff comes when he’s writing himself into a terrible boyfriend for Amy. Then Kyle composed that weird little rap that goes over the montage in that sketch. I’m actually in that. I play the president of rap at the end of the sketch.
I’m not sure what else to say about it other than Kyle’s sketches take about 50 percent longer than they should to shoot because it is impossible for either Kyle or Amy to keep a straight face. We show some outtakes at the end of each episode. When Kyle does his sketches, they are like the smallest fraction of how many times Amy and Kyle crack up on the scene.
Like when he bends down to rap goodbye.
Oh my God. We must have done 20 takes of that, and I think Amy laughed in every single one.
Inside Amy Schumer airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.