Most of the current season of Inside Amy Schumer had wrapped filming when the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was handed down and Roe v. Wade was overturned.
But, having already seen state laws banning abortions going into effect, Amy Schumer shared an idea for a bit with writer Christine Nangle (“I would say 75 percent of our best scenes ever came from her,” says Schumer). The result of their conversation is a parody ad, which appears in the first episode of the Paramount+ series, featuring Schumer urging people to visit the state of Colorado for its beautiful wilderness, bustling town centers — and legal access to reproductive services. The ad plugs abortion support organizations Brigid Alliance and the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, which have seen an uptick in donations and outreach support since the sketch’s release, per the streamer. At the end of the ad, Schumer’s character loses her friendly tone as she warns with urgency that these offers may be for a limited time only.
“My preference would be that none of these scenes held up and were completely irrelevant. Unfortunately, they are relevant,” Schumer tells The Hollywood Reporter of the five-episode season of Inside Amy Schumer that tackles everything from abortion rights to antisemitism (airing the week Kanye West’s rants made headline news), white privilege, racism, micro-aggressions against the trans community and Elon Musk. Schumer and her writers room began working on the season in January and filmed after her memorable stint co-hosting the 2022 Oscars. They finished up the edit in June then shot their talking-head segments and “Colorado” in August.
Before returning with the fifth season, Inside Amy Schumer last aired on Comedy Central in 2016. Then, Donald Trump was elected president. “That’s not why we stopped doing it, but that’s why we didn’t start it up again,” she says of the hiatus and spending her years off educating herself about the country’s issues. What invigorated her to return was feeling a bit of hope again: “I did get a little whiff of hope with the new administration, where I’d been feeling pretty hopeless. This is a hopeful show. Just in terms of not being afraid to point the finger at sources of the different problems.”
When Inside Amy Schumer aired on cable, the weekly release often sparked viral moments. In a cover interview with THR earlier this year, Schumer noted how depressingly relevant some of those sketches remain, like 2015’s “Last F—able Day” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey, which generated millions of YouTube hits and scores of think pieces on Hollywood ageism and double standards. Schumer, who has been sharing select sketches on her social media accounts, says the experience of releasing the show on a streamer is different “for a million reasons,” but she’s been happy with the response.
“I’ve been kind of delighted that they have still been getting a million or a couple million views, just even on my Instagram,” she says. “They are getting passed around and people are feeling seen and are appreciating it, and so that feels really good. Streamer vs. television is so fucking different. I don’t even know what we used to hope for in the ratings on my show, but the sketches I’ve been able to share have still gone what I would consider viral, and they feel helpful.”
And for all of those reasons, Schumer hopes to do more. “I hope we get another season,” she says, calling Paramount+ a supportive home. “They had a very light touch and they just supported us. They were the ideal partner, that’s why I’m like, ‘C’mon guys, how about we do it again?'”
Schumer couldn’t be busier. She’s on her Whore Tour, prepping a second season of her Hulu scripted series Life & Beth and just hosted Saturday Night Live, where she juggled rehearsals with her 3-year-old son coming down with RSV and landing him in the ER. “We’re still traumatized” by the experience, she says, sharing that he is now recovered. “I was like, ‘I’m obviously not hosting [SNL] anymore. I was texting people like, ‘Should I see who can fill in? Or, are they going to do that?’ And they were like, ‘No, you’re going to do it.’ So I just missed all of Thursday and went in Friday morning.”
After a last push on the road for her stand-up tour — “I think they’ll have to carry me off the stage in a stretcher because I’m so tired,” she says, noting she’ll film a Netflix special in December, followed by Life & Beth season two, and then she’ll take a break. “This summer, I’m like, I’m not doing anything except staring at my son,” she says.
But she’d even do a bi-annual release of Inside Amy Schumer, that’s how much she loves being back. “It’s a really effective way to communicate. I’ll still film some movies and TV shows, but this really is my home base,” she says of her collaborative team on the MTV Entertainment Studios-produced series, which includes showrunner Daniel Powell, director Ryan McFaul and writers Nangle, Tami Sagher, Jon Glaser, Jeremy Beiler, Tim Meadows, Derek Gaines, Jaye McBride, Georgie Aldaco and Sascha Seinfeld. “We just love the people we work with. It’s therapeutic and it feels helpful.”
Schumer, who spoke with THR on the day of midterm elections and ahead of Inside Amy Schumer‘s Nov. 10 finale, breaks down some of the series’ most pointed sketches and the motivating factors behind this season’s blend of comedy and activism.
Written by Christine Nangle, directed by Daniel Powell
“When they were starting with the trigger laws [after Roe], I remembered Texas was the first state with the abortion ban after [six weeks], and then there was a hurricane in New Orleans. And I remember reading that the people from the colleges there were being bused to the colleges in Texas and I was thinking, ‘God, I hope none of those girls need abortions.’ And then I thought, ‘Wow, is that going to affect where women choose to go to college? What is this going to affect?’ [After Roe was overturned], I had this idea for it to be a part of a state ad, and I asked Christine Nangle to write it. She’s just such a genius. She wrote it, I took a pass and we shot it like, right after that.
“Jen Tapper, Jake Tapper’s wife, had worked at Planned Parenthood for a long time. I’m always checking in with her in terms of abortion healthcare because she has the best resources. I made sure I was up to date with her on what would be the most helpful organizations, knowing that laws are going to change fast. So, how to get the pill and how to keep from getting caught, which you could just die saying that out loud.”
Written by Sascha Seinfeld
“For years, I’ve asked Sascha [Seinfeld] her opinion on things. I’m 41, I don’t have Snapchat. I just feel completely at a loss. She’s been my touchstone for, ‘Tell me what people your age are doing, how they’re communicating and what they’re thinking about.’ She’s a junior at Duke. She was writing on the show and I thought she was the perfect person to write this scene. I told her the premise, that it’s an orientation: ‘Here’s gum and a lanyard and a rape whistle, and a bus schedule to the closest city you can get an abortion.’
“We talked about it in the writers room and then she really wrote that from the ground up. The writers helped; we all took a pass. It was really helpful because I want to make sure we’re not using language that would shut [that age group] off. Because that is a big part of who we want to reach, to have things not feel so hopeless to young women. And also, letting them know that we need them — and, we’re sorry. Sascha suggested we partner with One Love Foundation. They were really supportive and enthusiastic.
Sascha is hilarious and she’s really dark, in a way that Jerry [Seinfeld, her dad] isn’t. Her mom, Jessica [Seinfeld], is dark — and I think anyone would say the funniest one in the family, even though Jerry is, of course, the most incredible comedian and one of my best friends. But Jess is really dry, really dark. And Sascha is the perfect combination. I think she’s going to have a big career, and I don’t think that it’s going to necessarily be overtly political. But I’ve known her long enough, and we’ve worked together long enough, that I must have had some sort of influence.”
Written by Amy Schumer
“I’ve been thinking about that scene for years. As somebody who has had to go in and do ADR and fix things. And also, these girls [on The Bachelor], the reason they cast them is because they have no self-reflection. I thought, ‘I bet you they have watch parties with their families.’ And that’s where this came from, the idea of them being like, ‘Let’s watch!’ and not really remembering what they did, and seeing it and being like, ‘Oh my God, you got drunk and were sexual, and you said evil, racist shit about people.
“Because we still don’t have a huge budget to shoot the show, we have to be so efficient. So we really don’t do any alts. Whereas every other production I’ve worked on, you have a lot. We haven’t had that cushion. I think we used [all the one-liners] in the sketch.”
Written by Jaye McBride
“I haven’t heard any Texas complaints. I’ve been on tour and I was with Jaye McBride, and we played ‘Horror Movie’ and it killed there. The people coming to see me are pretty like-minded. But I really loved that one. As someone who has some trans friends and trans people they’re close to, the fact that so much debate and so much energy has gone into this fucking bathroom thing when they’re just trying to live and survive — and the scene [in a later episode, ‘Trans Friend’] that Jaye and I did together, you think: What is it that makes people just want trans people to go away? Is it fear? It’s their own fear. So, you would rather this person not exist so that you don’t have to feel uncomfortable for one second of your life? If you really break it down, it’s pretty fucking sick.”
Written by Tova Diker
“I grew up in a town that was Irish Catholic with a very low population of Jews, and I was brought up to understand that I should be embarrassed about being a Jew. The stereotypes were so prominent that it was just something I accepted about myself. Even though we had no money — we were bankrupt, and I was eventually sharing a bed with my own mom — it was still like, ‘Jews are rich and greedy.’ In reading the book Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel, you realize that if you can get a Jewish person to care about themselves that’s really big, because of how deeply it’s ingrained in us.
“After reading an article by Jason Zinoman in the New York Times where he talked about the widely accepted antisemitism in comedy, that really hit me and I wanted to take anything out of my act that might be enforcing these stereotypes. And I really wanted to go out of my way and write a scene about it and take up that space for Jewish people, learning that like 60 percent of religious-based hate crimes this year happened against Jewish people and how we’re so targeted and hated and naming it and asking for help.
“Because there’s this triage: Women of color are absolutely first in my line in my eyes, but there are so many groups, including Jewish people, who need advocates. If you’re a Jewish kid and you go to Hebrew school, like I did, and you are raised reading every book on the Holocaust — they put Anne Frank in your hands before you get your period — the Holocaust is a real part of your DNA. I’m descended from survivors of Auschwitz, and I think people don’t realize that what the Jewish people as a whole are afraid of is that happening again. It’s evidenced over and over again that unless we fight it, this kind of uprising happens quick. We’re seeing that with Elon Musk and the way he’s using Twitter right now. And I feel like many Jewish people are terrified and on high alert and are advocating for themselves.
“We talked about this scene [‘Workplace Harassment’] a lot. And we were never afraid it was too far, which I think proves the point of the scene. You just go into a loop of the things that it triggers, so people immediately think ‘Jewish people,’ then they think Israel, and then they think that by advocating for Jewish people you’re being anti-Palestinian. Like, Fox News trigger words. There are really incredible activists and advocates for Judaism, like Sarah Silverman or Sacha Baron Cohen in terms of celebrities, who are used to getting an eyeroll because people aren’t worried about Jewish people. And there aren’t many resources aside from the Anti-Defamation League and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s resource page on antisemitism and Holocaust denial.”
Written by Derek Gaines
“Derek Gaines wrote [‘Privlage’ Part 1 and 2]. He’s a really funny comedian I’ve known for years at the Comedy Cellar. He pitched that and we were like, ‘Yes, we’re doing this.’ Amber Tamblyn has been a regular on the show since its inception, and Rosebud Baker started out writing on the show but then was poached by Saturday Night Live — she wrote a couple of my scenes this last week, including The Watcher sketch, which I loved doing — and Cara Delevingne I’ve become friends with in the past years and was in town. Van Lathan is my good friend, Monroe Martin is also a comedian at the Comedy Cellar and Kevin Kane, who is my work husband, plays a really good cop, unfortunately for him.
“We took a couple passes. We definitely shortened it. I think it felt pretty bad to everyone to shoot that scene [Part 1]. You’re making a comedy show, but you really have to play it pretty hurtful because that’s how it’s funniest. It was a bummer.”
And, the Finale (Released Nov. 10)
With “Silent Release,” Schumer self-medicates in a sketch that takes on big Pharma. “Married a Monster” turns the true-crime lens onto a husband’s crypto obsession and “Investment Portfolio” tackles corporate greed — with both of the latter sketches containing digs at Musk (“I’m trying to figure out what would be most helpful,” Schumer says of the debate about Twitter following his takeover. “I feel awful about it. It’s sickening and it’s terrifying.”) The final sketch, “Klooper,” even takes a dig at a certain Paramount CEO. (“They had no notes,” she says of the streamer. “They were a very good partner in making this.”)
Interview edited for length and clarity.
The fifth season of Inside Amy Schumer is now streaming on Paramount+.