One of the most viewed entries on this blog is my initial thoughts on the sketch show Inside Amy Schumer. When I wrote that post, I had only watched three episodes, which I know was not that many, really. I was willing to give it another chance. The rest of the season aired in April, and Comedy Central announced it was renewed for the second season. People were watching…and enjoying. I am not one of those people.
As I mentioned in the previous review, Amy Schumer has no obligation to be a feminist, create feminist comedy, or for that matter, even create comedy for women. However, it is disturbing that she still seems to want to create comedy for men that adhere to gender stereotypes. There’s self-deprecating humor, but that can be cathartic and reveal things about the self, in the way that Louis CK does so well. Through the remainder of the season, she makes herself the butt of the joke, the sexually awkward woman that is constantly manipulated by men. Hey, did you know that men and women view sex and relationships differently? That’s a concept that has never been explored.
I don’t know if Schumer’s constant running gag of “I’m gross and men are disgusted by me” is some sort of way to fish for compliments, because by beauty standards, Amy Schumer is far from gross. Sure, her cherubic face is not typical of the standard movie star, but that’s refreshing. If Amy Schumer is the standard of gross, we are all in trouble. [In fact, a majority of hits to this sight are the search engine phrases “Amy Schumer weight gain”, “Amy Schumer fat” and “Amy Schumer ugly”. Really, people?]
An example of this is the opener from episode, in which Amy plans on having an orgy on camera. She maintains her outward confidence even though she is inwardly terrified. She has advertised for men to participate, and when they show up, they are far from the conventional standard of attractiveness, some are overweight, old, tattooed, “nerdy”, etc., and Schumer decides to call it off. The surprise of having gross men show up for her orgy is the comedy- can you imagine having to have sex with such uglies? I mean, gross! Which is obviously hypocritical of Schumer, since she is constantly putting herself in the role of the undesirable. Schumer, feeling guilty, has a change of heart and invites the men back for the orgy. Record scratch! The men, actually, are now not up for it because THEY now admit they don’t find Amy attractive. Because, of course. Amy begs them pathetically to have sex with her, once again putting herself in the role if the undesirable, gross girl. Congratulations Amy, you’ve managed to bring body shaming and judging to a new level.
If the sketches are not based on some sort of sexual humiliation, they are focused on tired stereotypes and uncomplicated physical gags, including Amy wearing a ridiculous permed wig and dating a guy obsessed with it. In another episode, Amy plays a white-trash, trailer-dwelling meth addict who keeps blowing off appendages while making meth; another episode she plays a woman whose boyfriend is cheating on her with a clown. And why leave out fart jokes? There’s a whole sketch about Amy’s farting problem, which I don’t even want to take the time to explain.
As a woman trying to make it in comedy, I am sure Amy Schumer has come across many obstacles. I am sure many managers and producers have told her she needs to modify herself physically and modify a comedy a certain way to be taken seriously as a woman, which is a real bummer. However, when you have arrived at producing your own sketch show for comedy central, I would assume you are calling the shots. Why is it then, that other Comedy Central sketch shows- Key & Peele and Kroll Show, for example, have their stars creating sketches and worlds with protagonists with agency and focusing the comedy on the situation presented, not at the expense of themselves, even when the characters themselves are deplorable.
Amy Schumer still finds the need to put herself down before others out her down- even when she is calling the shots. And that’s a damn shame.