Schumer humor

Amy Schumer’s first hour-long special, “Mostly Sex Stuff,” recently aired on Comedy Central. I’ve read some negative reviews claiming that she’s just another typical female comedian, oversexed, and too caught up in talking about dating, but I tend not to agree. One brilliant internet dude claims that we shouldn’t bother with Amy because if we’ve seen Chelsea Handler’s, Natasha Legerro’s, or Whitney Cumming’s acts we’ve seen Schumer’s. Because women are all the same. The fellas from the Never Not a Nerd Show explain that there are women who are funny socially or as writers, but as one nerd put it, “I’ve never seen stand-up from a woman that’s not “here’s me banging dudes. . .” and “being a girl is hard and vaginas are weird — that’s the other thing they [female stand-ups] have.” I’d like to go on the record with my own little review because men aren’t the only ones who can plaster their opinions all over the internet. And also because my opinions are better.

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer

Ultimately, I thought the show was pretty great and I’m pleased to see that Amy is getting the air-time she deserves. Her persona is sharp as she playfully places a dark edge on her exaggerated and cutesy feminine mannerisms. Schumer’s style is all about inviting us into a familiarly gendered space and then exploding, or at least surprising, us out of it. She chats with her audience as though we are a gaggle of gal pals, and telling us about “mostly sex things” she takes us along on her adventures in dating, relationships, and more casual encounters. Oozing with sarcasm she lulls everyone into the rhythm of the staid stereotypical (female) stand-up. “Am I right, ladies?” she asks. When she gets a reaction from the crowd, “Thanks, sister-friends!” But sandwiched in the “Ohmygawd, I’m a girl!” banter is a joke about being tested for AIDS, or how much of a boundary-blind cunt her mom is, or the time her boyfriend wanted to discuss the possibility of bringing assplay into their bedroom. I believe that last joke ended with her calling his bluff, his delicately placing one finger atop her anus, and her giving him the fisting of a lifetime. Yeah. And then she giggles, makes dolly eyes, and twirls her hair a bit. I love it.

Though her hour-long show sagged a bit in parts, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her observations, stories, or subject matter. Rather, it seems she has a unique rhythm and her strengths lie in her bracketed offbeats on the way to telling a larger joke. Let me explain what I mean, here. With the fisting joke, the punchline comes quite appropriately with the fisting, but she goes on to give some extra info — “He’s dead now.” That little line is so powerful. It’s unnecessary, but its excessiveness builds the enjoyment of the previous joke. Likewise, when she’s telling a tale about a man commenting on her “sturdy” build, she parenthetically adds, “He was from Texas. . . or some place I’m not going.” These little extras, these bits of information that distract from the main focus, can add to the realistic feel of listening to a friend chatting while further playing up her critique of the “privileged white girl” character.

Though one could argue that this isn’t really new territory as one-liners were once the comedy norm, the way she weaves a number of tight and punchy one-liners into a larger set of more complex stories is impressive and really her own. What she’s doing with her act is strong, but in an hour-long show all those fragments can create some weird beats and awkward pauses. Yes, in this special not all of her transitions were exactly seamless, but as a young comic, she’s got plenty of time to perfect her timing and flow and work these issues out.

If my critical breakdown of Schumer humor sucked the life out of all things comedic, perhaps I can sway you with some of the show’s high points that really worked and tickled my funny bone.

  • On being a child and seeing her mom’s bushy pubic hair situation for the first time: “Is Mom being swarmed by BEES?”
  • On seeing an uncircumcised penis for the first time: (on phone) “Mom, can you come pick me up? . . . I don’t know — It’s wearing like a hat, or a cape. . . I don’t know!”
  • On using a toilet at a club after she assures us she’s not going to say anything gross: “So, there I was, just dropping a TON of heat. . . just massacring this bowl. . . I’m texting people, ‘Am I DYING?'”

See? She’s got the funny. She’s got the chops. She’s got boobs and vag and miraculously these body parts aren’t holding her back.

Ultimately, the show is worth watching. If you know her work, you’ll see Schumer branching out a bit in places while also honing the voice she’s created. Sure, I’m excited to see her go a little deeper and lend more time to her discussions of class, race, feminism, and stand-up itself, but these things will come with time. I say, don’t listen to the internet guys who suggest you avoid her work for being too girly. (How quickly men forget how often we’ve patiently listened to their sex stories and their detailed depictions of their nether regions.) I say, nut up and imagine what it’s like to have an ovary for a second, fellas. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. . . and perhaps more highly educated, and worthier adversaries as fellow nerds.

Ana Holguin writes PopHeart for The Idler.

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