Amy Sumpter knows how to work a crowd. Whether performing stand-up, sketch or rocking out with the Beastie Boys tribute band, She’s Crafty, Sumpter fights for the right to make fans smile. High kicks, hilarious bits and an effortless flow are just a few of the many techniques she employs to give you what’cha, what’cha, what’cha want in a performance.
Prior to a packed She’s Crafty show at City Winery Chicago Riverwalk in May, Sumpter detailed the twisting and turning path that led her to a comedy career and how the Beastie Boys influenced her views on life, music and feminism. “To be honest, I’m a feminist because of the Beastie Boys,” Sumpter explained.
“I grew up in a home where feminism was never talked about. There are a lot of strong women in my life and a lot of them don’t identify as feminists and here these men were like, ‘We’re feminists,’” she continued. “The Beastie Boys planted a lot of seeds inside of me that I didn’t realize in the moment, and as I got older, they were one of those bands I always went back to.”
Through the Chicago comedy scene, Sumpter (MCAmy) met her She’s Crafty bandmates Kendra Stevens (Ken D) and Maggie Tomasek (MagRock), and the three instantly bonded over a shared love of the Beastie Boys. “The day Adam Yauch died, I remember sending out a text saying we either stop talking about forming a Beastie Boys tribute band or we do it,” she explained. “A week later we went to Alice’s Lounge and did all the Beastie Boys karaoke songs and people were just losing their minds. We were rapping and singing and having a good time.”
Erica Reid (DJ ENRG) joined the band in 2014, and She’s Crafty has been cold kickin’ it live across Chicago ever since.
Sumpter fell in love with the stage at an early age. She first started acting at 12 – growing up in Streamwood – and it was while working as a waitress and pursuing an acting career that she first discovered her talent – and passion – for comedy.
“Whenever I was waiting tables, I would use my humor. If I made someone laugh, I would always get a better tip,” Sumpter said.
Time at Second City soon followed (where Sumpter performed a two-woman show with Kelsie Huff) and the stand-up stage – which allows for greater freedom, creativity and independence – is now where Sumpter is at her most hilarious. She regularly performs with and hosts The Kates, and she is gearing up to record a new comedy album in 2018.
Sumpter isn’t just one of the funniest women in Chicago, she’s also a genuine fan of the entire comedy scene. “There are so many good showcases in the city, and I love that you can watch someone grow,” she said. “Seeing them start, seeing that spark and then seeing them a year later when they are a totally different person on stage is great. They have confidence and are owning that microphone. That’s my favorite.”
She added, “I just love watching my friends succeed.”
Final Five Questions with Amy Sumpter
What makes you laugh?
A fart or a good falling down – because I fall a lot – as well as silly things like my friend just posted this video on Instagram of her and her son and he sneezed and all these boogers came out and it made me laugh so hard.
Or fake throw-up. I’m like a 12-year-old girl, that’s what I am I guess (Laughs).
Do you have a favorite joke either that you do or you love from another comedian?
I love Alexandra Tsarpalas‘ porcelain hands. That gets me every time.
Also one of my favorite all-time jokes is a street joke that I heard in high school. It goes, “What’s big and green and can kill you if it fell out of a tree… a pool table.” It just makes me laugh so hard because it’s so stupid. I love that.
What establishments or landmarks would you recommend for someone to visit in Chicago?
I super love Sabatino’s on Irving Park Road. It’s old school Italian, and I love it.
Also just walking along the lake, it’s so beautiful especially by the Adler Planetarium. It’s the best view of the city – so gorgeous – or just driving down Lake Shore Drive. I love driving on Lake Shore Drive, even when there’s bad traffic. It’s so pretty.
Do you have any comedy recommendations to share with the world?
I’m always kind of annoyed when people are like, “I’m bored,” because there’s so many great things going on in the city. There’s so many showcases. I love Scott Duff, everything he does. I also really enjoy – at Volumes Bookstore – Elyse Nylin does You Joke Like a Girl and I love Gwen La Roka, she cracks me up so much. She makes me laugh so flippin’ hard, and she’s also a wonderful human being.
What makes you Rebellious?
Honestly, don’t tell me what to do. I remember when my sister was getting married, the priest said that we weren’t allowed to wear a strapless dress, and that really bothered me because God was the one who gave me these giant breasts. So, I bought a strapless dress.
I think some people may view that as being disrespectful, but for me, I was really annoyed that a man was telling someone what they could or couldn’t wear. So, no don’t tell me what to do. That’s what makes me rebellious.