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The Awkward Amy Schumer Interview That Wasn't Her Fault

Amy has no idea who that guy is and
Monique forgot to tell her.
Last week comedian Amy Schumer participated in a very awkward interview with Mamamia, Columnist/Journalist/Senior Editor (sorry I'm not sure which job description is most appropriate) Monique Bowley. The interview went so badly that Monique simply had to just own it and write about just how badly it went, and podcast about it as well. Even better the whole interview was captured on video which you can watch below as a precursor to my thoughts on the aftermath.





I would also recommend listening to the section of the podcast (embeded with her article) where Monique and Mia Freedman discuss the above interview as it also gives you insight into what happened prior to and after everything went south.

It seems like the general consensus for this interview being so bad was because Amy was at the very end of a very long press junket for her new movie, Trainwreck, and was possibly a bit grumpy and unimpressed with this particular days journalists, made up of mostly bloggers (according to Monique).

Prior to Monique's interview the previous journalist had received high praise as being 'the best journalist of the day' and got a standing ovation... which apparently was a tough lead in for Monique, who was nervous about meeting someone she really admires and had spent many days (weeks even) preparing for this moment.

However, as I watched the interview, which starts out with what is supposed to be a humorously sarcastic comment but comes across as too familiar too soon, I saw Amy trying to give thoughtful answers to questions that didn't really give her a lot of scope for comedy or much chance to connect with Monique.

I feel the interview misfires so badly because Monique was too determined to ask her well thought out questions, and get through her picture associations, that she forgot to really listen to Amy's answers and improvise a question or two, to acknowledge that she'd heard what Amy had to say and was interested in her answers.

I'm not a professional interviewer, I'm not even a columnist/journalist/blogger on the same professional level as Monique but I have heard/watched a few interviews of interviewers giving advice about how to do an interview. One that has always stood out is when Clive James was once interviewed about how he interviews, and was asked whether he has a list of questions or improvises? I can only paraphrase his response at best (and it was definitely much wittier than my memory) because it was such a long time ago but it went something like... "I do have a list of questions I usually want to ask but if the interviewee unexpectedly says 'and then I killed my mother' you can't go 'that's nice and what do you hope to achieve next?"

In Monique's case she seemed to have her ideas on who Amy Schumer is and wasn't really comprehending the answers Amy gave. I think the whole picture association thing may even have been playing on her mind as her unique point of difference and how wonderful she thought that was going to go.

Monique seemed to really push this idea that Amy sees herself as a feminist flying the torch for women everywhere. However based on Amy's responses to the idea that she's some beacon of light for women everywhere (and she is for many of them), Amy herself is just living the goal of what feminism is in her eyes. She doesn't really see herself as a champion of feminism she just believes in the feminist ideals like she believes in her left arm - it's just a part of who she is. She doesn't even see herself as a female comedian... she's just a comedian. Isn't that how it should be?

Which, to go off on a tangent, when did the declaration of someone being a female comedian become a thing again? Especially in Australia where we've had female comedians willing to cut through the BS and tell it like it is since, for me at least, when Wendy Harmer first stepped onto a comedy stage. Though I'm sure she had her predecessors too. FFS funny is funny. I enjoy Amy Schumer because she's genuine, roll on the floor, laugh out loud funny. People who seem surprised that female's can be funny talk as if being female is a hindrance to being a successful comedian. It isn't. Not being determined enough to succeed is hindrance, being female isn't.

But back to Monique's interview... Asking the question did Amy's film turn out as she'd hoped and getting a gushing response about how the movie turned out even better than expected, and that she'd loved working on it, probably shouldn't have gone with the next question of was there any part of it you wish had gone differently? Not least because the previous question already had the implied question to mention something that didn't turn out as well as she'd hoped. Since Amy didn't mention anything, Monique should have just dropped the question and moved on to the next... which was the unfortunate 'feminist baton' question... could have at least worded that differently... that whole 'was there some kind of ceremony' line surely must've sounded less intelligent to Monique once she said it out loud? I'm sure the 'Australian Sisterhood' were cringing - "Oh hell don't bring us into this, you're on your own, Monique!"

I do think Amy was trying to get a bit of humor going by picking up Monique on the word association game since, typically, you don't show pictures in a word association but that attempt came across very flat because things were well off the rails by this point.

If you read Monique's write up for how she thought the Picture/Word association was going to go you'll notice Monique was meant to acknowledge Amy's answers with some surprise revelation about each image, but because Amy didn't have the same script that was in Monique's head, she must have blanked and forgot about the surprise revelations.

This Picture/Word game didn't play out right because all but the last image was pretty meaningless to Amy. Because Monique forgot to enlighten her about each image it probably came across much like an ink blot test. I'm fairly certain Amy was wondering if she was giving the right responses to images that she had little to no context for. You'll notice she was very happy to see an image of herself because that was familiar and easy to say anything about.

Imagine if Monique had mentioned, after Amy had said 'Hot' to her first image of Mick Fanning, that he was the guy who punched a shark, Amy may have heard about that and could have made a further comment before the next image of Bronwyn Bishop (kudos to Amy for calling Bronwyn 'strong' rather than Monique's less flattering, hoped for answer of 'What a Nanna').

You get the idea though... an interview is two way affair where you can ask questions or make comments but you also have to listen and acknowledge what you're being told to develop a rapport.

Maybe Amy was having a bad day, but I don't think she checked out on Monique on purpose, if at all. Amy would have been more than willing to be funny. She was so relieved to see that last picture of herself because it was finally something she could actually be the slightest bit funny about.

I don't know if Monique has done other interviews but this one is fantastic for how not to do an interview. Here's what I know... people love to talk about themselves. It's their favorite and most knowledgeable subject. An interview is usually the ideal time to talk about them. Do that and they'll probably remember you as a really good interviewer.

In Monique's head this interview was about her becoming besties with a major star she admires. It's not so much that she had high expectations she just had different expectations to Amy, who was there to promote her movie.



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