News Column

Last laugh: Easton native works with comic Amy Schumer

April 26, 2013

YellowBrix

April 26--Growing up as a self-professed "band nerd" at Easton High School, Karl Frankenfield never dreamed he'd one day be working in television on a comedy series with a hot young comic.

The 2005 Easton High graduate took AP classes in science and math and studied engineering at Lafayette College, but he didn't really like it.

Now the 25-year-old is one of the youngest associate producers for the new Comedy Central series "Inside Amy Schumer," created by the racy comedian whose one-hour show, "Mostly Sex Stuff," was Comedy Central's second-highest rated special in 2012.

Despite the fact many TV shows don't make it, Frankenfield says he has a good feeling about "Inside Amy Schumer."

"Everyone seems to like it," he says. "It's been testing well."

The half-hour show, premiering at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, explores topics revolving primarily around sex and relationships through a series of scripted skits, man-on-the-street interviews and stand-up comedy.

"She does a very edgy brand of comedy," Frankenfield says.

The first episode opens with an eager-to-please Schumer unintentionally auditioning for a kinky video called "Two Women, One Cup," which is too explicit to explain here. Other bits include Schumer going overboard imagining her wedding and shared cemetery plots after a one-night-stand, and an excursion to a female version of "Hooters" called "O'Nutters." The show is uncensored and contains explicit language.

"She's super funny," Frankenfield says. "But she's super laid-back and doesn't realize she's famous."

As associate producer, Frankenfield wears many hats, such as serving as liaison for the series' guest stars including Amber Tamblyn, Michael Ian Black, Rob Schneider, Abby Elliott, Tig Notaro, Tom Papa, Lisa Lampanelli, Dave Attell, Will Janowitz, Nikki Glaser, Sara Schaefer and Missi Pyle.

He also prescreens the participants in Schumer's man-on-the-street interviews in which she asks people very personal questions such as "Have you ever had a one-night stand?" and "Have you ever sexted anyone?"

Frankenfield started in October, and has worked on all 10 episodes. He produced the credits, screened cuts and arranged for product placement from the Apple laptop Schumer uses to check the Facebook page of her one-night stand to the Volkswagen on whose hood she writhes.

Schumer is a rising star who first made a splash on the 2011 roast of Charlie Sheen on Comedy Central. She then had a recurring role on Season 3 of Adult Swim's "Delocated" and guest-starred on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." She also was in the film "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" starring Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley, and "Price Check," an independent feature opposite Parker Posey that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Most recently, Schumer was on the FX series "Louie" and in season 2 of HBO's "Girls." Her album "Cutting" placed in the top 5 of the Billboard Charts and has been included on several best comedy albums of the year awards' lists.

In February, she kicked off a 30-city tour "Inside Amy Schumer: The Live Tour" which brought her to Easton's State Theatre in March.

Frankenfield says the road from being a kid in Easton to a career in television in New York was "a long process."

"I had never taken a film class until my third year of college, at which time I had been an engineering, then math and then journalism major," he says. "I feel like I spent several years in college without realizing that this was even an option. I never would've guessed that I would find a career working in comedy, and I really wish someone had told me that a career in the entertainment industry was possible."

Frankenfield switched to New York's School of Visual Arts where he got an internship as a production assistant at "Onion News Network," a series that parodies television news show and airs on IFC.

"That was my first foray into the world of film production, and I ended up working there all through school," he says.

He also interned at Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," through which he met producer Tony Hernandez, who runs the New York based production company Jax Media.

"When you're a production assistant, you're hopping around from show to show and it leads you into being a producer or a director," he says.

He also has worked on "Men in Black 3," "The Dark Knight Rises," some MTV shows and the upcoming David Wain comedy "They Came Together," starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, scheduled for a 2014 release.

Frankenfield joined Hernandez's Jax Media, and through the company had his first jobs as a producer on several Comedy Central pilots.

"When you work hard and work crazy hours you get noticed," he says.

Last year he was a production supervisor on "Eugene," a pilot starring Russian-born comedian Eugene Mirman, who is known for his absurdist humor. The show didn't get picked up and he was asked to work on "Inside Amy Schumer" -- his first associate producer role.

"It's possible to come out of a public school like the Easton School District and produce a large-scale TV show or movie, as long as you're very likable and smile a lot and willing to work hard," he says.

Next he is working on Comedy Central's "Broad City," based on the cult web series starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Amy Poehler is one of the executive producers of the series, which will follow the two women as they go about their lives in New York.

"I started at the bottom and worked my way up," Frankenfield says. "Television was a large part of my childhood and it's rewarding that the public can see what you've worked on. It's nice to know I'm doing something people are enjoying."

kathy.lauer@mcall.com

610-778-2235

'INSIDE AMY SCHUMER'

-- What: Comedy Central series starring hot new comedian Amy Schumer. Easton High graduate Karl Frankenfield is associate producer for the show.

-- When: Premieres 10:30 p.m. Tuesday

-- Additional content: There will be a five-episode web series called "Behind Amy Schumer," with behind-the-scenes clips of Schumer on cc.com/amy

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