by Madeline Iva
Amy Schumer sprang into my awareness when her show INSIDE AMY SCHUMER was on Hulu. I was watching it a little at a time, savoring it the way you save your Easter candy, and then suddenly one day all the episodes were bumped up to the subscriber level (i.e. no longer free) Nooooooo! I was horrified. The next time they made her comedy available for free on Hulu I gobbled up every available episode like someone binging on chocolate covered potato chips.
She is dirty — so dirty. Yet there’s definitely a feminist component to what she does. And this is where her comedy gets so subversive, because I’m not sure most feminists are so totally comfortable with dirty sexy stuff in the same way Amy is. She is all about calling out ugly sexism in our culture. Yes, it’s still there, and it’s still undeniably mean, and her interest in sex is wound up in it all.
Unlike someone, *cough* Kristen Stewart *cough* who whines about how hard it is to be supremely famous in sexist hollywood and have millions worshipping you, Amy makes yummy lemonade with her Hollywood lemons. We laugh, are horrified, then shocked, and then we laugh again. Her point of view is so candid, and so female, that her material seems entirely fresh–even though she is merely canvassing the ass-hat hurdles that women have to jump over all the time.
However, Amy is also all about the joke being all on her. The horrors of L.A.’s superficial super-culture are brought out by her dissecting how grotesque and fat and ugly she feels in the city. The goes for her interactions with celebrities. She speaks the chubby-woman’s truth to power about it all.
The other part of her comedian’s axe has to do with her slutty-McSlutty side. She owns the mistakes she’s committed in the past. Is it just insecurity that has led her into degrading (yet true and real) situations with men? Who knows. She doesn’t analyze, she merely shares the moments where she’s left her self-esteem in the toilet, flushed it, and watched it clog up the drain. I’ve known girls and women who’ve been in similar situations and like a captain going down with the ship, done things that keep them wide awake at night amidst the wreckage of their pride, but of course all these stories are so much fun to hear. Amy Schumer’s sexual misadventures have that same wince factor and more. The can’t-look-away-car-crash compelling force of her stories reveal no feminist dogma — she doesn’t slap a coat of pretty on her comedy. Maybe this is what true stand up comedy is: the shocking and the true delivered with a side of excellent timing. Joan Rivers laughed at herself, but she seems to have bought the cool-aid. One always gets the sense with Amy Schumer that when she talks about how she doesn’t fit in with L.A. super skinny’s that it’s really their problem. She will put on the mask and say ‘oh i’m so repulsive and fat’ but we kinda get the impression that she really doesn’t care. We rarely get this kind of comedy via someone like us. By violating every woman-code of politeness and lady-like behavior, she reveals women as the sometimes innocent looking yet blunt and sexually motivated people we really are.
Yet fame has struck her with such massive blinding force, it’s going to be interesting to see how things progress with her career. A part of me finds it hard to match up the composed and confident celebrity we see in interviews with the sincere female insecurities she marches out for our pleasure. By wearing these insecurities on her sleeve, perhaps her bravery is what keeps her chin up and her lunch down while she’s being feted across our nation. She speaks for millions of women who see gender experiences from all sides: the feminist, the girly, the dirty, and the grovelingly insecure. At the same time, she’s willing to shoot arrows into any target that comes along.
All hail Amy! She’s sorta my new hero.
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