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.