Funny Business: The Fresh Feminism of “Inside Amy Schumer”

Funny Business: Amy Schumer’s Show Embraces Modern Feminism

[Originally hosted at LadyClever.com.] The potty-mouthed, pouty-lipped ladies cracking wry jokes about how lazy, smelly, gross, and generally sleazy they are, wore thin for me just a few disappointing episodes into “Two Broke Girls” and “Whitney”.  As such, I definitely did not expect to dig comedienne Amy Schumer’s new sketch-comedy show, “Inside Amy Schumer”, chalking it up as another incarnation of the crass comedienne who’s adorably down with using the eff-word like whoa while she paws through a bag of potato chips and passes gas.  But while smart and sardonic Schumer pushes the envelope, hard,  with tons of fun filth and  raw this-is-how-girls-really-are reveals, her take on it feels more like classic Carol Burnett and less like tired Chelsea Handler.

Simply put, I think she feels funnier because she’s freer and more feminine.  Schumer can get pretty slapstick-y and silly, deeply self-deprecating, but she’s laughing about women’s fears and quirks, not at them, and she does not often say it the way a dude would want to hear. Literally. In a skit where Schumer is exchanging flirty sexts, her hookup purrs in his message “Whaddya want me to do to you?” and she types lamely, hilariously, “Tell me I’m safe in my apartment.”

“Lately, too many of the talented funnywomen who’ve earned their own shows are trying a little too hard to appeal to men, always professing their love of rape jokes and threesomes and Philly cheesesteaks and openmouthed burping — even though most of them are so skinny, they look like they don’t eat human food, much less burp. (Sorry, Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, Whitney Cummings, and anyone else mentioned in trend pieces about “edgy” comediennes.)” Entertainment Weekly writes. ”

These are the types of comediennes that writer Gillian Flynn critiques as “the Cool Girl”  in her novel Gone Girl, EW goes on: “Watching them perform, you’re not so much looking at a real person as a character, one that has been dreamed up by a woman who “watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.”

Apple-cheeked Schumer, with golden blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes,  is more like a the girl next door that no one lusts over but too late realizes they’re in love with.  Her persona’s girly guilty pleasures and personal truths don’t feel like that over-wrought tongue-in-cheek shtick, “Can you believe I’m doing/saying this?” Instead, her character’s dirtiest moments in sex, relationships, and friendships feel like she got caught in the act rather than that she put it on. The result is she’s  much more relatable and fun to watch than the caricature of the beer-binging babes that are begging to be loved by the boys by acting like one.

Backed up by a writers room where men are the minority and notable names include former SNL writer Jessi Klein and Louis CK’s golden girl Tig Notaro, the show mixes sketch comedy with snippets of her stand-up routine, random polls she conducts on the street, and an interview with someone in an interesting profession. Her stand-up isn’t as sparkling as the polished skits, but watching how her quickly her mind works, how fast she fires off quips, when she chats with real people is really impressive. Channeling the classic traits of our finest funny ladies, like Lucy and the aforementioned Carol Burnett, while dodging newer stereotypes of the stock sarcastic sexpot, Schumer’s show manages feel feminist and fulfillingly funny, with zero politics.   Check out “Inside Amy Schumer” on Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central–Casandra Armour

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