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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Comedy Central
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Comedy Central

13 Surprising Facts About Amy Schumer

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Comedy Central
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Comedy Central

From her first appearance on Last Comic Standing to her headlining role in Trainwreck, Amy Schumer has never shied away from the spotlight. (Even when, as of late, she courts controversy.) The comedienne is so famous for her candor about her professional and personal life that it may seem like we know everything there is to know about her—especially with her memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, now out on shelves. But these 13 facts might come as a surprise. Discover which roles Schumer nearly played, what Inside Amy Schumer originally looked like, and which celebrity’s cake she ate below.

1. HER GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WAS A MANHATTAN BOOTLEGGER.

Amy Schumer’s familial connection to Senator Chuck Schumer (they’re second cousins once removed) tends to get all the attention, but we should really be talking about her great-grandmother: Estelle Schumer was a New York bootlegger back in the days of Prohibition. Once booze was legalized again, her liquor store on 54th Street (Schumer’s Liquors) nabbed the seventh liquor license in the city. It’s still there today. “She was a badass,” Schumer told The Daily Beast. “She’d always say, ‘Hide your money from men,’ and lived in a studio apartment in a trundle bed into her 90s.”

2. HER PARENTS RAN A HIGH-END BABY FURNITURE STORE.

Schumer spent much of her childhood on Manhattan’s swanky Upper East Side, and it was all thanks to the cash flow from her parents’ baby furniture shop. Called Lewis of London, the store imported cribs from Italy. This played well with the Manhattan crowd, until other companies muscled in on the Italian imports and Lewis of London went under. The family had to downsize to a much smaller home in Schumer’s preteen years, but she says she wasn’t aware of the lifestyle change at the time. “I never really felt the effects of having less money,” she said in an interview with NPR. “I was I think 12 or 13 and just, you know, boy crazy and worried about what I was going to wear.”

3. SHE KILLED AT HER BAT MITZVAH.

The first time Schumer slayed a room wasn’t during one of her first stand-up sets—it was in the middle of her bat mitzvah. Schumer chose to chant rather than read from the Torah and completely cracked on her closing note. Although she was embarrassed at first, once everyone laughed, she laughed, too.

4. SHE WAS VOTED “CLASS CLOWN” AND “TEACHER’S WORST NIGHTMARE” IN HIGH SCHOOL.

The 1999 senior class at Long Island’s South Side High School bestowed two superlatives on Schumer: Class Clown and Teacher’s Worst Nightmare. Although the first one might seem obvious, Schumer explained that the second one was a bit misleading. “Half my teachers, like my English teacher and my history teacher, were shocked. Because if it was a class I was really interested in I would just listen and be attentive and was a good member of the class,” she said. “But if it was a class that I struggled or I felt wasn't, you know, like business law, I remember, those are the classes I would kind of act up in.”

5. SHE HAS A THEATER DEGREE.

Schumer majored in theater at Towson University, and continued her acting education once she moved to New York. She took classes at the famed William Esper Studio for another two years, where she learned the Meisner technique. (While often confused with Method acting, the Meisner technique is a separate approach that focuses on instinct.) Schumer even starred in an off-Broadway play; Keeping Abreast was a dark comedy centered on a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer.

6. HER COLLEGE DEGREE WAS HELD HOSTAGE FOR FOUR YEARS.

Although she completed her credits on time, Schumer did not receive a college diploma with the rest of her class in 2003. The reason? Towson charged a fee to post her credits and Schumer found the policy maddeningly arbitrary. So she didn’t pay. But she received her degree four years later when she was passing through Baltimore on a Last Comic Standing tour. The Towson theater department chairman had been watching her on the show, and promised to fork over her diploma if she met him in the Baltimore Lyric Opera House with the cash. Schumer finally acquiesced. Today, Schumer has buried the hatchet and the Towson theater department refers to the incident as a “minor administrative matter.”

7. SHE REVIEWED HER EARLY STAND-UP TAPES ON THE BIG SCREENS AT BEST BUY.

When Schumer saw the footage from her first stand-up show at the Gotham Comedy Club, she was ashamed. So she decided to get serious. She began reviewing tapes from each of her subsequent sets and taking notes—but since she didn’t have a fancy TV, she watched herself on the display screens at Best Buy.

8. SHE AUDITIONED FOR GIRLS.

Schumer appeared in two episodes of Girls as Angie, the annoying friend of Adam’s girlfriend, Natalia, but she originally auditioned for a starring role. Lena Dunham recently revealed that Schumer auditioned for the principal role of Shoshanna. “Everyone in the room was stunned by the detail and skill of her improv, the wild talent radiating off her,” Dunham recalled. “It was clear Amy wasn’t meant to play an innocent Juicy Couture lover obsessed with emoji—even if her Meatpacking District club lingo was the funniest sh*t I had ever heard. But when she left the room, the vibe was very, ‘Someone get that lady a show, STAT!’”

9. INSIDE AMY SCHUMER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A TALK SHOW.

When Inside Amy Schumer was still in its early stages of development at Comedy Central, the series was designed to be a talk show. After some prodding from her head writer, Jessi Klein, Schumer decided to switch gears. “I got a text from Amy before meeting with Comedy Central,” her co-creator Daniel Powell remembered. “It said: Scratch that. I want to do my Louie.” And so the show became the blend of stand-up, sketches, and man-on-the-street interviews it is today.

10. HER HOWARD STERN INTERVIEW GOT HER A MOVIE DEAL.

The way Trainwreck director Judd Apatow tells it, a single Howard Stern interview sold him on Schumer. She appeared on the radio show in 2012, and spoke very openly about her father’s battles with multiple sclerosis and alcoholism. Apatow was riveted. “Amy was so interesting that I didn’t leave, I just sat there in my car listening,” he said in an interview. “She was telling all these stories about her relationships, and about her dad and how she deals with that emotionally. It was very brutal, and also very sweet and funny. I thought, ‘Wow, she really sounds like a screenwriter.’” After he wrapped This Is 40, Apatow set a meeting so they could discuss a screenplay. That screenplay became Trainwreck, and Apatow soon moved into the director’s chair.

11. SHE MEDITATES REGULARLY AND AVOIDS CAFFEINE.

Despite Schumer’s bawdy image, she’s fairly health-conscious. According to Vogue, she currently practices Transcendental Meditation, schedules weekly acupuncture sessions, juices every morning, and avoids caffeine. Which means she probably won’t be returning to Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee any time soon.

12. SHE WAS CONSIDERED FOR THE GHOSTBUSTERS REBOOT.

Lots of insider information came out of the infamous Sony hack of 2014: Some of it revealed alarming pay gaps, some of it just concerned Adam Sandler flops. But one email floated Schumer as a possible ghostbuster in this summer’s all-female reboot. The email was sent by former Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal to original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, and mentioned Schumer along with Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Lizzy Caplan, and Melissa McCarthy as potential cast members. Obviously only McCarthy ended up in the picture, but Schumer was still stoked. “I saw that email! Sorry that happened, but I was psyched to be on that list,” she said in an interview.

13. SHE ONCE CRASHED AT JAKE GYLLENHAAL’S PLACE AND ATE HIS CAKE.

No, Schumer didn’t break into Gyllenhaal’s house and raid his fridge. She actually rented his apartment with her sister for a brief time. As she explained to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, she discovered an old birthday cake in his freezer while she was there. So naturally, she drunkenly ate it and declared herself a princess. Don’t worry: her sister got it on film.

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30 Things You Might Not Know About Cheers
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On May 20, 1993—25 years ago today—television audiences said farewell to Sam Malone, the fictional Red Sox pitcher-turned-proprietor of Cheers. Though it's the Boston bar where everybody knows your name, there’s plenty you probably don’t know about the classic sitcom, which spent 11 seasons on the air.

1. CHEERS ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT THROUGH SEASON ONE.

Like many of television’s greatest success stories (e.g. Seinfeld), Cheers was not an immediate hit. It premiered on September 30, 1982 to dismal ratings—77th place out of 100 shows that week, according to Nielsen. It was NBC’s entertainment president at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, who saved the show from cancellation during its first season.

2. THE BULL & FINCH PUB, ON WHICH CHEERS IS MODELED, IS NOW CALLED CHEERS

Talk about life imitating art. After it was decided that the series would be set in a bar instead of a hotel, co-creators Glen and Les Charles decided the locale should be moved to New England. “Boston was chosen partially because only five short-lived television shows claimed the city and the East Coast pubs were real neighborhood hangouts,” wrote Dennis A. Bjorklund in his book, Toasting Cheers.

As the show’s popularity rose, it didn’t take long for word to spread that the Beacon Hill tavern was the “real” Cheers (though only the exterior shots were filmed there), turning the neighborhood hangout into a tourist attraction. To satisfy the masses, a second location—this one was actually called "Cheers" and featuring a replica of the bar viewers were used to—was opened in nearby Faneuil Hall in 2001. One year later, the Bull & Finch officially changed its name to Cheers.

3. SAM MALONE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER.

In the script’s earliest incarnations, Sam Malone was an ex-football player, which made sense considering that Fred Dryer—the former NFL defensive end who would go on to star in Hunter—was a top choice to play the role of Sam (opposite Julia Duffy as Diane; William Devane was also a strong contender). Ultimately, it was the chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelley Long that led to them getting the gigs. Once the casting was finalized, the creators swapped out football for baseball, based on Danson’s body type.

4. TED DANSON ATTENDED BARTENDING SCHOOL.

Danson spent two weeks at a bartending school in Burbank, California as part of his training to play Sam.

5. NORM AND CLIFF WEREN’T INTENDED TO BE REGULAR CHARACTERS.

Both George Wendt and John Ratzenberger auditioned for the same role in the pilot, a minor character named George who had a single line: “Beer!” The character’s name was changed to Norm Peterson when Wendt was cast. But Ratzenberger wasn’t about to give up so easily. “As I was leaving the office after the audition, I turned around and asked them, ‘Do you have a bar know-it-all?,’” the Bridgeport, Connecticut-born Ratzenberger recalled to Ability Magazine. “None of the creators was from New England. They were all Hollywood-centered. And I said, ‘Well, every local bar in New England has got a know-it-all—someone who pretends to have the knowledge of all mankind between his ears and is not shy about sharing it.’” Thus, Cliff Clavin was born.

6. NORM PETERSON IS BASED ON A REAL GUY.

In 2012, co-creator Les Charles told GQ that Norm was based on a real person. “I worked at a bar after college, and we had a guy who came in every night. He wasn't named Norm, [but he] was always going to have just one beer, and then he'd say, ‘Maybe I'll just have one more.’ We had to help him out of the bar every night. His wife would call, and he'd always say, ‘Tell her I'm not here.’”

7. NORM’S NEVER-SEEN WIFE VERA IS VOICED BY GEORGE WENDT’S REAL WIFE.

Though she’s only credited in one episode, George Wendt’s wife, Bernadette Birkett, provided the voice for Norm’s wife, Vera. Birkett did make one appearance on the show—as a love interest of Cliff’s—in season three.

8. JOHN RATZENBERGER IMPROVISED MANY OF CLIFF’S FUN FACTS.

Many of the random (and untrue) facts that Cliff Clavin offers up were ad libbed by Ratzenberger. “After a couple of years on the show they realized they could trust me not to mess it up,” Ratzenberger told Deseret News in 1993. “So little by little they've let me just sort of run off. Because I know when to stop … It's easy to improvise comedy. It really is. But the art is knowing when to shut up and let other people talk. That's a hard thing to learn.”

9. SOME OF THE DIALOGUE CAME FROM REAL BAR CONVERSATIONS.

In order to nail the bar talk aspect of the series, the creators regularly visited bars in the Los Angeles area to eavesdrop on patrons’ conversations. In the series premiere, there’s an argument about the sweatiest movie ever made, which was lifted from one of these overheard conversations.

10. CHEERS WASN’T AFRAID TO TACKLE SOCIAL ISSUES.

Cheers’ writers never shied away from taboo topics such as alcoholism or homosexuality, through they always had a sense of humor about them. The season one episode “The Boys in the Bar,” in which one of Sam’s former teammates announces that he is gay, earned writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs a GLAAD Media Award.

11. PLANS FOR AN HIV SCARE FOR SAM HAD TO BE ABANDONED.

In 1988, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, which meant that several planned episodes of the series were never filmed. Among them was a season six cliffhanger in which Sam learns that a former girlfriend is HIV positive.

12. RHEA WASN’T THE ONLY PERLMAN ON THE SET.

Rhea Perlman wasn’t the only member of her family to grace the set of Cheers. Her younger sister, Heide, produced more than two dozen episodes between 1985 and 1986 and wrote several episodes throughout the show’s run. Perlman’s father, Phil, played one of the bar regulars (named Phil).

13. JAY THOMAS MURDERED EDDIE LEBEC.


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When character actor Jay Thomas wasn’t portraying Carla’s Bruin-turned-ice-show-performer husband Eddie LeBec, he was the host of a popular morning radio show in Los Angeles. Which is exactly what led to his character being killed off rather prematurely by way of Zamboni. “A few episodes of recurring bliss and then one day on Jay’s radio show, a caller asked him what it was like to be on Cheers,” recounted writer Ken Levine. “He said something to the effect of, ‘It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.’ Well, guess who happened to be listening ... Jay Thomas was never seen on Cheers again.”

14. A CHEERS MINI-EPISODE WAS PRODUCED FOR THE U.S. TREASURY.

Early in Cheers’ run, its creators were contracted by the U.S. Treasury to create a special mini-episode to promote the purchase of U.S. savings bonds. Titled “Uncle Sam Malone,” the episode never aired on television nor is it included on any of the DVDs; it was intended to be screened for promotional purposes at savings bond drives only.

15. A “LOST” SCENE ALSO AIRED AS PART OF THE 1983 SUPER BOWL XVII PREGAME SHOW.

Back in early 1983, writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs wrote a special one-off scene to air before Super Bowl XVII in which Sam, Diane, Carla, Norm, Cliff, and NBC announcer Pete Axthelm bet on who will win the big game. “They ran it just before game time and it was seen by 80,000,000 people,” Levine recalled of the spot on his blog. “Nothing we've ever written before or since has been seen by that many eyeballs at one time. But the scene was never repeated. It never appeared on any DVDs. It just disappeared.” (Until now: You can watch it at the link above.)

16. TED DANSON WORE A HAIRPIECE TO PLAY HAIR-OBSESSED SAM


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A fact that became apparent when he accepted the Emmy—sans hairpiece—in 1990. In the 1993 episode “It’s Lonely on the Top,” Sam shares his follicular challenge with Carla.

17. VIEWERS FREQUENTLY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE VOLUME OF THE LAUGH TRACK, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO LAUGH TRACK.

In 1983, a quick disclaimer—spoken by one of the regular cast members—was added to the beginning of each episode: “Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience.” This was a direct response to viewer complaints that the “laugh track” was too loud.

18. THE PART OF FRASIER WAS WRITTEN FOR JOHN LITHGOW.


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After recent roles in All That Jazz, Blow Out, and The World According to Garp (for which he received his first of two consecutive Oscar nominations), Lithgow was not interested in working on the small screen. “I just said, 'No,’” Lithgow recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. “I barely even remembered that … It was like swatting away a fly … I just wasn’t going to do a series.”

19. KELSEY GRAMMER PLAYED FRASIER CRANE FOR 20 YEARS.

Grammer made his Cheers debut in the third season premiere in 1984. Though he was intended to be a short-lived character, Crane’s popularity with audiences led to him becoming a series regular. Four months after Cheers ended in May of 1993, Frasier made its debut (on the redesigned Cheers stage, no less) and ran for its own 11 seasons. Grammer’s two-decade run as the pretentious psychiatrist is a record-breaking one for an American comedy actor.

20. TONY SOPRANO'S MOM PLAYED FRASIER'S MOM, TOO.


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Nancy Marchand's character threatened to kill Diane. The role of Frasier's mom was played by Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson in a 2001 Frasier flashback.

21. KIRSTIE ALLEY IS THE ONLY MAIN CHARACTER WHO DIDN’T MAKE A GUEST APPEARANCE ON FRASIER.

Throughout Frasier’s 11-season run, Kirstie Alley was the only one of Cheers’ main actors to not make an appearance on the popular spinoff, possibly because the psychiatric profession conflicts with her beliefs as a Scientologist. “Kirstie once said ... she'd never do a show about a psychiatrist,” Kelsey Grammer told Entertainment Weekly in 2002.

22. FRASIER’S DAD WAS MAGICALLY RESURRECTED FOR THE SPINOFF.

When Frasier talked about his family on Cheers, he noted that his father—also a well-respected psychiatrist—had passed away. Yet his ex-cop dad, played by John Mahoney, is a main character in Frasier. Incidentally, Mahoney made a one-off appearance in Cheers’ eleventh season, as a fast-talking jingle writer named Sy Flembeck:

23. NORM’S FIRST NAME IS HILLARY.

His full name is Hillary Norman Peterson.

24. THAT WOODY PLAYED WOODY WAS A TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

Though many of the non-regular bar patrons’ real names were used in filming, that Woody Harrelson ended up playing Woody Boyd is by sheer coincidence. The character’s name was written into the script long before any actors had auditioned for the role.

25. NORM DRANK “NEAR BEER.”

The bar on the set may have been fully functional, but that doesn’t mean the cast got to spend the day throwing back cold ones. Norm may have had it the worst. As the bar’s resident lush, he’s rarely seen without a sudsy glass of beer in his hand. But what’s really in that glass is “near beer,” a weakened strain of ale mixed with a bit of salt to keep a perfect head on the glass at all times. Which Wendt unfortunately had to consume on more than one occasion.

26. THE SHOW HELPED PROMOTE THE IDEA OF A DESIGNATED DRIVER.

It was important to the producers of Cheers that no tipsy bar patron ever drove him or herself home, so there are frequent references to calling cabs and designated drivers. The Harvard Alcohol Project had a hand in spreading this message.

27. SAM AND DIANE DID GET MARRIED AT THE END OF SEASON FIVE.

Because Cheers was filmed in front of a live studio audience, the producers had to occasionally trick the audience so that show developments weren’t leaked. In order to keep Shelley Long’s departure from the series a secret, the live audience saw Sam and Diane get married at the end of season five. The real ending—which sees Diane leaving for six months to finish her book, only to return for a guest appearance in the final season—was filmed on a closed set.

28. CHEERS HABLA ESPAÑOL.

In September 2011, a Spanish version of the series—also called Cheers—made its debut. It starred Alberto San Juan as a former soccer player turned Irish pub owner and ran for just one season.

29. THE END OF THE SHOW IS ALL TED DANSON’S FAULT.

Though understandably so. When Danson announced that he’d be leaving the series at the end of the 1992-1993 season, producers decided that Woody could take over the bar. But Woody Harrelson wasn’t interested in continuing the show without Danson, and so its series finale was set.

30. THE CAST AND CREW GOT REALLY, REALLY DRUNK FOR THEIR SENDOFF.

NBC made a major event of the series finale, with cast and crew celebrating at Boston’s Bull & Finch Pub, where thousands of fans gathered outside to watch the show on two Jumbotrons. Then the drinks started flowing … and flowing … and flowing. “The show ended at eleven,” Ken Levine wrote in a 2013 remembrance of the evening for Vulture. “The next half-hour was an emotional tsunami. Everyone was hugging and crying and doing a lot of drinking. We were all completely wrecked.”

Then it was time for the cast to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. “The cast, in no condition to face anybody, much less 40 million people, dutifully trooped downstairs to do the live show,” Levine continued. “Us non-celeb types stayed back and watched on TV … in horror. They were so drunk they needed designated walkers. They giggled like schoolgirls over nothing, fired spitballs into each other’s mouths, squirted water guns, Woody Harrelson implied he gave oral sex to both Ted Danson and Oliver Stone, and Kirstie Alley sang a song where the only lyric was ‘dick, dick, dick.’”

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How to Craft the Perfect Gag, According to Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
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Dubbed “The Great Stone Face” for his ability to hold a deadpan expression even as the world (quite literally) crashed down around him, Buster Keaton was “one of the three great silent comedians” in film history, according to filmmaker Tony Zhou.

A video by Zhou, spotted by The Kid Should See This, explains just how Keaton managed to pull off such memorable stunts, and why his scenes continue to influence modern actors and filmmakers. First, Keaton shunned title cards and subtitles, instead opting to advance the story through action. He disliked repetition and thought each movement should be unique, while also insisting on authenticity and proclaiming that a filmmaker should “never fake a gag.” If a gag couldn’t be captured all in one shot, he wouldn’t do it.

The angle and positioning of the camera was also paramount. Many of Keaton’s vaudeville-esque gags were visual in nature, toying with the viewer’s perspective to create illusions that led to hilarious reveals. But for that to be successful, the camera had to remain stationary, and the joke had to play out entirely onscreen.

A low-speed chase scene in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, where Ralph Fiennes's Gustave H. runs up a long staircase in the background to escape cops, is a modern example of this. “Like Wes Anderson, Buster Keaton found humor in geometry,” Zhou says.

Check out Zhou’s video below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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