Regardless of how many hits it would drive toward my blog, I’m abandoning my usual title formatting by refusing to call this post “Sneak Peek – Inside Amy Schumer.” I’ll probably still get some people disappointed that this is a review of the new half hour show on Comedy Central and not something more “adult” in nature. Sorry peeps – I didn’t name the show. Though in all likelihood, Schumer herself would get a kick out of my original blog post title. It’s not like this is a woman that is prudish.
Amy Schumer is probably best known to most people more from her appearances on the Comedy Central Roasts than for her stand up; she has the same persona in both and definitely isn’t for those that are uncomfortable with sexually explicit humor or course language (NSFW).
Part of her shtick is being a woman that talks pretty openly about things that are still considered shocking for female comedians to discuss; some element of her humor comes from the “I can’t believe she just said that” reaction. If you like Lisa Lampanelli, you’ll probably like Amy Schumer. I am not someone that is easy to offend and generally like Schumer; she does spend a lot of time talking about sex (her last standup special was called Mostly Sex Stuff – worth checking out), but she does cover other topics and I like her delivery. I don’t usually watch the Roasts as a rule, but I’ll go online to specifically see what she had to say. I saw her doing stand-up about two weeks ago and while I was a little disappointed that I had seen her do some of the same material the night before on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I thought that overall her set was very funny and enjoyable.
Schumer’s new show hasn’t officially debuted yet, but I was able to watch the first episode. I was kind of curious what the format of the show would be; in my experience a lot of these shows featuring stand ups take a while to really figure out what they want to be. I like Anthony Jeselnik, Schumer’s on again off again boyfriend and stand up colleague, but I’m not sure that his show The Jeselnik Offensive totally works as conceived in the first season. We seem to be having a renaissance of stand-ups getting their own shows; this was a go-to move in the 90s when pretty much every new sitcom developed featured someone from the world of stand-up. However, while shows like Seinfeld excelled, the vast majority of those shows didn’t quite live up to expectation. A person who is great at stand-up may not necessarily be great on a weekly show; they are two very different animals and require different comedic sensibilities. Sometimes, the talent in one just doesn’t translate to success in the other.
Inside Amy Schumer structurally has three parts; the half hour is made up of sketches, stand-up and woman on the street segments. I think this mix is smart as it gives them some different elements to play with as they work through putting together the best show that plays to Schumer’s strengths. Having just seen her live, I had already heard all the stand-up bits that were in the pilot episode. This was a little disappointing; you’d think that she’d want to give fans some different material than she is doing on the road, but I also understand that crafting jokes takes time and it may have been unrealistic for her to have material for the show and totally different material for her stand-up (especially since the tour that I saw her on was cross-promotion for the show). My only hope is that as the series progresses, there will be some stand-up that I haven’t already seen. None of this should be taken to say that the material wasn’t funny, but that it just wasn’t new to me. I have been spoiled by comics like Louis CK and Seinfeld, who always have new material.
I thought the sketches held the most potential for Inside Amy Schumer, perhaps because they were completely new to me. I particularly liked the sketch “One Night Stand” that looks at the male and female perspective of the morning after a random hookup the night prior (the remote controlled helicopter reminded me of some people) :
It doesn’t exactly blaze a new trail with material, but I thought the execution of the jokes was well done and the concept was refined enough for Schumer to put her own comic stamp on it. I thought the other main sketch in the pilot was funny, but went on a little longer than the joke required.
The “woman on the street” segments also have some potential; they are a nice way to transition between the other parts of the show and Schumer is pretty personable with the everyday folks. They are brief, which is important, and anytime you take to the streets of a major metropolitan city and ask the questions that Schumer is asking, you are bound to occasionally hit some comedy gold.
All in all, while I wasn’t overwhelmed by Inside Amy Schumer, I definitely saw some possibility and will be back to give subsequent episodes a chance. I’m guessing that I’m going to find some of the sketches hit or miss, but I think that is not unusual. Even when Saturday Night Live was really firing on all cylinders, it was generally uneven. It’s hard to hit 100% with comedy. I’ll be interested to see what Schumer does with a weekly series and if her comedy suffers at all from being limited by basic cable standards and practices (my prediction is no, since the guys at South Park haven’t had any problems and have gotten away with a lot). Inside Amy Schumer definitely isn’t for everyone and I don’t know that it is required viewing. But Schumer is a very talented comic and I think that her show will have some very fun moments. Though the pilot was uneven, if she figures out the right balance for her material I see some promise.
Inside Amy Schumer debuts Tuesday April 30th at 10:30 pm