EXCLUSIVE: Claudia O'Doherty Brings Her Chipper Comedy to 'Inside Amy Schumer' and 'Love'
Claudia O'Doherty has logged a whole lot of miles, both physically and in the acting world. As if it wasn't enough that the delightfully chipper Australian was handpicked by Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer for a role in Trainwreck, which led to her essentially becoming their ingénue in buzzy projects thereafter, she recently scored an accolade she can proudly take home to mom: her first Emmy nomination.
The writers of Inside Amy Schumer scored their second nod in as many years for "Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series," which was as much a relief for O'Doherty as it was a thrill.
"I only came onboard this year, so if they weren't nominated, it would have been my fault!" she (mostly) jokes with ET about her job on season four of the Comedy Central sketch show. “I was also excited, because this is something my parents and grandparents can watch – and it proves that I do have jobs in America! It feels like such a lovely treat.”
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Schumer, who has become a good friend of O'Doherty's over the last couple years, was the one who directly asked the 32-year-old comedian to join her show's staff, a far from shabby job recommendation. "It was my favorite show so then the idea of writing for it was a terrifying yet very exciting idea," O'Doherty admits.
In fact, the job was a dream come true -- literally.
"I had always wanted to [write for TV]. This'll make me sound like such a mega dork, but I remember being a teenager and dreaming of being in the writer's room for SNL," she admits, laughing. "I remember once I got the job on Amy Schumer, I was in New York going to the writer's room every day for a show that I love, and I was like, 'Wait a second, I did that thing! That's crazy.'"
"In a way, it was like a very early foundational dream," she continues. "Then I was doing comedy, and it feels like one thing lead to another, and Amy was just very nice to give me that job. But I guess it is what I always wanted to do."
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Comedian Mike Lawrence -- who also joined the Inside staff last season and, much like O'Doherty, admitted that the Emmy nod was "definitely validation in terms of leaving my hometown" -- was pretty pleased about his new co-worker.
"Claudia is incredibly talented and funny as both a writer and actress -- genuine genius," he says. "It was fun working with her and fun having a fellow new person to take it all in with."
The predominately female writer's room has a strong feminist perspective that's obvious to even the most casual of Inside viewers, which not only aligned with O'Doherty's inclinations but added a level of comfort in an otherwise daunting new environment.
"That's a helpful thing in my writing for the show -- it has such a strong point of view, and that point of view is Amy's point of view," she says. "As an audience member watching that show, I was always like, 'Oh wow, these are sketches from the point of view of someone who shares what I think,' which is generally not the case. It was so fun to write sketches for the show for that reason."
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Working so closely with Schumer, who O'Doherty describes as "an amazing example of someone who's just doing it," has also helped the Sydney native improve her own work ethic.
"The hardest part of writing is doing it," she explains. "The great thing about acting is everyone is making sure that you do the acting. There are camera people and directors, and if you're not there acting, it's a big problem. But if you don't write, you just haven't written the thing you needed to write. You can easily not write for your whole life and no one will care. That's really hard."
Hard, but not impossible, as O'Doherty can attest. She's proven herself both behind and in front of the camera, with cameos on Inside and a supporting role as Bertie on Apatow's Netflix dramedy, Love.
"Acting is challenging in a completely different way," she muses. "Lots of times, it's really easy compared to writing, because people are looking after you and putting makeup on you and putting your clothes on, and the role I have on [Love] is so fun and easy. It's not like a harrowing drama, which I would find really hard and scary."
Despite the years she's logged in the comedy scene, she is proud yet relatively reserved about her career boons in the States. Though she was cast on the Australian comedy Problems in 2012, O'Doherty quickly realized there wasn't a big enough television or film industry Down Under, so she made her way to the far less sunny shores of England.
"There's a great writing scene in London, but it's mainly panel show over there, which is not exactly what I always dreamed of doing," she explains, noting she did a lot of live comedy while there. "So when I started to get opportunities here in L.A., of course I took them -- they were dream jobs! Then I was like, 'Wait a second, you can get jobs the whole time if you're in Los Angeles! And, also, I like the sunny weather. I didn't consider myself outdoorsy at all, but after two very gloomy winters in London, I was very relieved to get back to the sunshine."
That two-year detour across the pond was nonetheless a step in the right direction, as it was her web series for Britain's Channel 4 that made its way to Apatow and Schumer, who initially hired her for last year's Trainwreck.
Though she only worked on set for three days for her memorable but small role as a bridal shower guest named Wendy, it was enough to win over Apatow. "On the last day I was shooting on Trainwreck, Judd was like, 'We're developing a show about Silver Lake [a neighborhood in L.A.] Do you have any ideas for a character?'" she recalls.
That show turned out to be Love, a cripplingly realistic look at thirtysomething life in L.A. Though she had a list of what she describes as "much crazier ideas" for what would become her character, Bertie, her on-screen counterpart ended up looking a lot like, well, O'Doherty.
"I think that he realized that in my real story, there's a lot of stuff there, so my character is much more based on that: of being new and starting over," she says. "They're all about, 'That's true, that's all real.'"
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Bertie is so chirpy and optimistic, it can almost be discerning at first, but the beauty of O'Doherty is that she steals the show so discreetly, it's tough to pinpoint the moment she won you over. That combined with her natural comedic timing may be exactly what Apatow saw from the get-go.
"Before I got there, the character was written much cooler," she reveals. "She was not particularly optimistic at all. She was very cool, which it turns out I'm not even capable of acting. As a person, I seem to be weirdly optimistic, and they thought it was funny, and that's why the character's like that."
If we'll get to see Bertie be just as naively positive in season two, O'Doherty can't say. Though filming has wrapped, Apatow runs a notoriously tight-lipped set, and she wasn't about to break that trust. What she can reveal, however, is that Bertie will still be living with cynical screw-up Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs) and dating giant teddy bear of a man, Randy (Mike Mitchell). "In the beginning, things are going -- things are on," she says of Bertie and Randy’s relationship. "That's all I can say!"
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So, has the City of Angels been everything O'Doherty dreamed it would be?
"It's been a really great place to be living and working because there's actually a formal television industry," she says. "I would say that the idea of living in L.A. was sort of preposterous and depressed me and [seemed] like a thing I'd never do."
Preposterous? Maybe. The right move? Clearly.