With the kind of year Amy Schumer has had, it’s pretty hard to believe that the last time she was in Charleston, she was sharing a small black box stage with local actor/comedian David Lee Nelson, warming up the crowd for headliner Isaac Witty during a Piccolo Spoleto event.
Lesson learned: Never blow off the opening act.
Schumer returns to the Lowcountry a decade later after creating, writing and starring in the Emmy Award-winning comedy series “Inside Amy Schumer,” which premiered its fourth season on Comedy Central last week.
She made her big screen debut in 2015 as the actor and writer of the critically acclaimed film “Trainwreck,” which racked up awards including three recent MTV Movie Awards.
And just like that, she’s on the A-list, which comes with viral videos, magazine covers, paparazzi and superstar friends like Jennifer Lawrence.
How does a comedian,with a persona as every woman’s vulgar, party-loving best friend, handle the meteoric rise to fame?
“I make jokes about it,” Schumer says. “I’m not somebody who is pretending they haven’t become famous. I’m not like, ‘Oh, I’m just like you guys.’ ”
For instance, in the trailer for the new season of “Inside Amy Schumer,” a doctor advises her to stay out of the spotlight because she’s been overexposed. Schumer responds with a wink to the camera.
The comedian says fame can make it more difficult to come up with new material because it’s so often inspired by mundane, everyday interactions.
“I think it was Seinfeld who said this, but no one wants to hear like, ‘You know when you hire a new private chef and they want to talk to you, isn’t that annoying?’ Or, when the jet doesn’t have your kind of vodka?”
On the other hand, she doesn’t feel at all out of touch with reality.
“I’m still calling Time Warner and waiting on hold and dealing with that operator. I’m still dealing with being in a relationship and living with someone and what that means,” she says.
Schumer is beloved, especially by female fans, for her no-holds-barred brand of comedy that challenges sexual norms, stereotypes and gender inequalities. And part of the act is just to blurt out exactly what some in the audience might be thinking.
When she appeared on “The Tonight Show” a few weeks ago, she introduced herself as a “famous plus-size model,” a joke aimed at a recent controversy with Glamour Magazine. The publication’s recent issue about plus-size “women who inspire us” included Schumer, without her consent.
Schumer reacted on social media, stating she fluctuates between a size 6 and 8. She also said the label, designated for women who wear size 16 and up, is unnecessary.
There’s at least one topic the comedian isn’t so quick to joke about, though.
Schumer is calling from Minneapolis, where she’s set to perform that evening at the Target Center, a huge arena. A few hours before the phone interview, it was announced that Prince, a lifelong resident of the city, had died.
“People are like, crying in the streets,” she said. “I’m a huge Prince fan. He was paired with Chris Rock last time Chris Rock hosted SNL and I got to go, and he just blew me away.”
Would she lighten the mood with a joke on stage?
“I don’t know if that’s what I should do, but I won’t. I’ll probably pour one out for him on stage. But I’m not someone who’s like, oh, I’m going to make the too-soon Prince joke,” she says.
It’s also the same night that her new season of “Inside Amy Schumer” premieres. She won’t see it on TV since she’ll be on stage, potentially toasting to Prince.
But if she could watch it, she probably would, unlike some celebrities who refuse to watch their own performances.
“I don’t get grossed out watching myself,” she says. “I’m not like, ‘Everyone shut up, I’m on!’ But I don’t mind.”
Schumer says if the person on screen is an authentic representation of who you are, then it shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
“My stand-up is pretty close to who I am now and it used to be a character. And I’d be like, ‘Ew, who am I? Like, who is this vaudevillian creep?’ But now I feel pretty similar to who I am on stage now, to a point.”
That self-awareness helped Schumer write the semi-autobiographical role in “Trainwreck.” Now, she’s experimenting with a new genre: action-comedy.
Schumer recently wrote her second movie, which she’s set to star in with Goldie Hawn playing the role of her mother.
The 70-year-old actress hasn’t been on the silver screen in about 14 years, but Schumer says she had to have Hawn in the film because “she’s probably the funniest person alive on camera.”
“I like performers who can have you like, cry laughing one minute and then you just feel for them and you’re actually crying the next minute,” she continues. “I just think she’s so good at being vulnerable but also sweet and hilarious and subtle. She’s just made me laugh so much growing up.”
The project will be filmed in Hawaii, but she couldn’t discuss any other details.
Even with all her recent success, Schumer still gets nostalgic about the early days, like the few weeks she spent in Charleston one summer 10 years ago for the relatively small Piccolo Spoleto festival.
“Everyday, we’d go to this coffee shop called Clara’s and we would play chess. It was one of the happiest times in my life those weeks there. I’d write, and play chess all day, and then we’d have the shows at night, then we’d go out and get drunk,” she says. “I couldn’t be happier about the circumstances I get to return with.”
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.