I almost missed the deadline for this article because of Amy Schumer.
Before I starting writing it, I thought I should probably watch a few Inside Amy Schumer sketches on YouTube, to refresh my memory.
Oh boy. Cue sitting up in bed, iPad balanced on my knees, crying with laughter for about three weeks.
This woman does not hold back. Think Joan Rivers without the misogyny, more confidence than Miss Piggy, absolute fearlessness, lacerating self-awareness, and the ability to sweetly articulate everything you’ve ever thought but were too chicken to say out loud.
You’re still not close.
The immeasurably cool Tilda Swinton, who wrote a poem in her honour, called her “an honesty bomb.”
Amy Schumer is a comic lady Terminator, the queen of Comedy Central.
She skewers everything — breakups, sexting, weddings, women in the military, child-beauty pageants, lying about being over your ex, third-date disclosures (“I have AIDS”), make up, pretentious hotels, ageism, how couples choose movies, celebrity interviews, one- night stands, women’s magazines, couples counselling, a music video parodying hip hop’s ass obsession (‘Milk Milk Lemonade’), lots of sex tips.
And body image, because that’s what women have always been told to worry about, and remains what the fashion and beauty industry is built upon.
Not brain image, which you’d think would be a more important source of anxiety, but body image.
She mocks how her own looks have been mocked, while refusing to be digitally enhanced on magazine covers. She likes herself. In public.
Schumer’s comedy is not angry as much as girly and sweet and bright, but with merciless pitch dark humour inside the sunny subversion.
She sends up her own manmade girliness as much as she mocks everyone else, male and female; she pinpoints the Achilles heel within our various emotional insecurities, and how they impact on sex, relationships, friendships, ideas of freedom and self-image.
How men view women, and how women allow themselves to be viewed both by men and by each other.
In one sketch, as editor of fictional Glamo magazine, she tells her staff writers, “Great job on the 30 Ways To Know You’re 20 Pounds Overweight. I heard most girls were crying by number 7.”
Another Glamo feature is “Why Your Boyfriend Hates You.”
It’s so near the bone it should have those red cellulite circles around it, the ones those female gossip mags like to bandy about.
Schumer is not mean or vicious towards individuals, however, as much as to ideas of how we are, how we think, how we react, and how men and women bumble along, held together by fear, hope and ego.
Nor is she one-dimensionally misandrist, but parodies everyone equally.
You’d want her to be your friend. She’d have your back. And under the humour is clear intent.
Why do women permit themselves to be defined by externals? Why do we worry about the stupid stuff instead of having more fun?
“I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself,” Schumer told the audience at an awards ceremony last year. (She has won truckloads of awards already).
Men tend not to have to point out this kind of stuff — identity defined by face / body / partners / kids / no kids — which is the basis of much of her comedy. How women allow themselves to be treated, not just by men, but by each other, and society as a whole.
Her Last Fcukable Day sketch is a classic.
How Hollywood decides when perfectly gorgeous women are no longer perceived as sexually viable to cinema audiences, despite no such day existing for their male co-stars.
The result? Female actors who once played a male star’s lover go on to play the same male star’s mother a decade or two later. Harrison Ford being paired up with a 20 something.
Away from the sexism and ageism of the entertainment industry — in which Schumer, as a comedian, actor, writer and producer, is now firmly embedded — female self-deprecation is one of her pet topics.
Her “I’m So Bad” sketch pokes fun at how women compete to be the most self-denigrating — this time about their eating habits, where a group of friends end up eating a waiter.
That’s what makes her funny. She’s not all about women getting a bad time, but also about giving themselves a bad time. Why do we do that, she is asking us, when we could be enjoying ourselves?
Schumer is having a ball. At 35, she is a star. She is one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People; Trainwreck, her first movie, which she wrote and starred in, was released last year; she is working on a screenplay for a new movie with Jennifer Lawrence; she has opened for Madonna on Madge’s Rebel Heart tour; she is a gun-control advocate, after a fatal shooting in a Louisiana cinema during a screening of her movie Trainwreck.
She hangs out with her sister Kim, and her old friends from home. Kim is her go-to, and her co-writer on Inside Amy Schumer. She has not gone all starry diva.
orn in 1981 in Manhattan, Schumer had a privileged childhood until the age of nine when her family’s business went bankrupt, her parents divorced, and the family moved to Long Island – graduating from school, she was voted both Class Clown and Teacher’s Worst Nightmare.
She studied theatre at university in Baltimore, and did her first ever stand up gig in 2004. Photos show her dark haired in jeans, her only prop a microphone.
Like all successful comedians, she worked hard on her craft as she made her way up the comedy ladder over a period of years, doing stand up, sketches and some acting.
She appeared in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls, until Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer catapulted her onto the main stage.
Now she sells out Madison Square Garden and presents the MTV Awards, and thanks to those sketches on YouTube, is an international name, starting her first world tour in Dublin on August 26.
Not that you need a vagina to appreciate her.
“I don’t like the observational stuff,” she told an American interviewer.
“I like tackling the stuff nobody else talks about, like the darkest, most serious thing about yourself. I talk about life and sex and personal stories and stuff everybody can relate to, and some can’t.”
One of her most successful stand up shows was Mostly Sex Stuff.
She’s the girl who likes to talk about it, and likes to do it, and says we are all the same, but just don’t have the balls, or the ovaries, to shout it out.
She has offended loads of people, her stand-up is full of jokes that bash traditional lady-boundaries, causing the US star of Jackass to call her a “no-name slut”. She responded by saying how much more successful than him she is.
Currently in love with someone non-showbiz, she has dated fellow comedians as well as a professional wrestler, but broke up with him because the sex was too athletic.
Naturally, this was all used as material.
“I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless,” she once said.
“I say if I am beautiful. I say if I am strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fcuk and love and I will never apologise to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it.”
Which might induce squeaks of you-go-girl, until she skewers it all again: “Some guys might want to sleep with a skeleton wrapped in plastic. That’s fine if that’s what you want. But I’m going to keep eating and showering infrequently.”
And we are going to keep watching and laughing and delighting in her great big uncensored gobbiness.