Amy Schumer has had a Cinderella story rise to fame, from her small, humble beginnings in New York comedy clubs, leading up to her 2015 big screen debut in Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck.” She’s known for her sexual humor, her unwavering confidence and…more sexual humor. Despite drumming up a loyal fan base though, it’s questionable if her comedy has been able to keep up with her career. As she moves further away from standup and closer to Hollywood, Schumer’s jokes appear to be growing more tasteless and less appetizing.
I first stumbled upon Schumer three years ago during my senior year of high school. I had three weeks before my twenty-page poetry analysis paper was due, and a blank Word document haunted my daydreams. Instead of beginning to outline my thesis, I looked for ways to distract myself. I became obsessed with Comedy Central roasts, even though I wasn’t familiar with the celebrities being roasted. I scrolled through the list of available titles and saw a name I recognized all too well—Jane Lynch.
It’s painfully embarrassing, but I can now admit that I knew her from her role as Coach Sue Sylvester on “Glee.” She hosted the “Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne” in 2012, and I immediately realized I had no clue who Roseanne or three quarters of the people on the dais were. But, I also knew I was kidding myself if I actually thought that I was going to start the paper; I don’t outline, I hate it. So, I started watching the roast, and was laughing at jokes I didn’t actually understand, but felt a need to laugh at because I figured they were well written. Then, a blonde woman with pigtails and a short cocktail dress took the podium. She was absolutely hilarious, crossing boundaries I had not expected, especially from a female comedian.
I was determined to find out everything there was to know about her. I read articles, watched poor resolution clips of her standup on YouTube and re-watched roast after roast. What I loved about her was her fearless and unapologetic approach to comedy. She joked about topics of conversation traditionally deemed unapproachable for female comics, such as the contraceptive Plan B and abortion. Good sex, bad sex, one-night stands and everything in between: If it was real, she joked about it.
I started seeing her everywhere, from a bit part as a makeup artist on “30 Rock” to suggested articles on my Facebook newsfeed. My Schumer-vision really set in when I got hooked on her TV show, “Inside Amy Schumer.” The combination comedy sketch/stand-up show produced by Comedy Central stars Schumer and a variety of her comedian friends. Schumer also writes and produces the show, and has directed four episodes over the course of its four seasons. The project debuted in April 2013 and was an instant success among audiences and critics. I even had the sketches playing on loop while I got ready for school every morning.
But, just as Cinderella’s carriage eventually morphed back into a pumpkin, the clock struck midnight for Schumer when her first Netflix original comedy hour, “Amy Schumer: The Leather Special,” debuted in March of this year. When I read her Instagram post announcing the special, I was overjoyed. I planned to write a formal review for my college’s newspaper, but really, it was just a ploy for me to write about my favorite comedian.
I sat down with a glass of wine and notepad, ready for sixty minutes of uninterrupted comedy genius. However, after the first fifteen minutes, I hit pause and looked at my disgusted reflection staring back at me through my computer screen; I was thoroughly disappointed. I love her raunchy, revealing comedy, but, the writing in her special felt dated and headstrong. Her jokes took forever to reach the punch line, if there even was one, and seemed crass and vulgar for their own sake.
I’ll admit, after seeing what I’ve deemed to be The Leather Disaster, I forgot about Schumer. She occasionally popped up on my Instagram feed or in the tabloids, but I didn’t pay much attention. I tend to hold grudges, and Schumer had found herself in the middle of a dreadfully ice-cold shoulder, silent treatment combo.
After some time, I decided to give her another chance. I took my mom to see “Snatched” as a late Mother’s Day present. I was nervous that the movie wouldn’t be “mom-friendly” after seeing some pretty revealing trailers, but decided to risk it. My mom was excited as we went in with high expectations, only to leave the theater exchanging silent glances as if to say, “So, let’s pretend that didn’t happen and just grab Panera on the way home.”
The Hawn-Schumer pair was lackluster and inauthentic. The film’s few redeeming moments are when Hawn is off screen and Schumer is allowed the spotlight. The film opens on Emily Middleton (Schumer), arms full of clothes, shopping in a trendy store with a young girl. After a few funny minutes of Schumer talking and agreeing with herself, the audience finds out she’s actually an employee, doing a pitiful job of assisting a customer. The film doesn’t get funnier than that.
It’s not believable; I don’t believe Schumer and Hawn could be daughter and mother anymore than I can believe apple cider vinegar cleanses actually work and aren’t just horribly disgusting. Add to the fact that Schumer plays the same character as she did in “Trainwreck” and in every comedy sketch: a lazy, obnoxious, self-obsessed wine guzzler. Her moments with Linda (Hawn) feel forced and cartoonish; but hey, if the Shoe-mer fits?
I tried to slap myself out of it, “Wake up, you idiot! It’s Amy-freaking-Schumer.” But, no matter how many times I re-watched the movie in my head or searched for positive reviews online, I was left feeling unamused and disappointed.
Here’s my thing with Amy: She’s still great. She’s still a talented comic and a funny, courageous woman who speaks her mind and does whatever she wants. But, I feel like her creativity and originality have taken a back seat to her fame and publicity. The more famous she gets, the less entertaining and meaningful her work is. The term “sellout” is strong, but not inappropriate in this case.
Bottom line, Schumer needs to return to her roots. She needs to stop making every joke about sex, and, to put it blatantly, she needs to stop trying so hard.