NEW YORK - Amy Schumer said she wanted more "personal experience" with the people who like her. Fellow comedian Whitney Cummings was looking to "respond as fast as I can" to her fans.
So both comedians gave out their "phone numbers" on Instagram. It's not actually their main cell phone number, but a separate number they've purchased (or acquired in exchange for publicity) from a company called Community, a tech startup in Los Angeles that aims to help high-profile clients communicate directly with their fans. The company charges its users a fee to use the platform. Sometimes the stars answer, often they do not.
Why not just slide into a DM?
Matthew Peltier, Community Co-Founder & CEO, tells CNN he found that his high-profile clients were looking for a way to connect with supporters that felt more personal than social media, which he looked at as an interference. He thought Schumer was the perfect person to get on board.
"Amy's a great addition to Community," Peltier says. "We're excited to see how she will bring her voice to Community and make us all laugh."
The company, founded by Peltier and CPO Josh Rosenheck, in July 2019 after months of building and beta testing.
"Imagine texting with artists, celebrities, visionaries -- the leaders you respect and admire -- the same way you do with your mom or best friend," the Community website reads. "Imagine texting with your fans, supporters, or patrons that very same way, with smart, powerful tools to help you engage in direct, meaningful communication. At scale."
According to the company, other clients include Jennifer Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres, Karlie Kloss, Ashley Graham, The Jonas Brothers, Kerry Washington, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, Tony Hawk, Ryan Seacrest, Deepak Chopra, Sophia Bush and Ninja. Millions of members have communicated with clients since Community's launch in July.
The company prides itself on not selling ads and promises clients and users they will never sell their personal information.
How does it work?
Celebrity clients are given a unique 10-digit Community number and a special messaging app that allows them to respond. Callers simply text a the number from their regular messages app, they do not need to download a separate app. For a reply, the stars can blanket message millions of fans at once, focus on just a few in a specific city along a tour, or chat with any member individually. But know that anytime you text one of these numbers, you immediately get an automated message kicked back to you, then you have to click a separate link to add yourself to the celebrity's contact list.
CNN tried Schumer to ask about how she and her new baby are doing, to no avail, although both she and Cummings have posted screen shots of some of their replies to other users.
Still, we wait.