I became aware of Amy Schumer last year, when her Aaron Sorkin parody “The Foodroom” burned up the Internet. I had no idea what the clip was from – Schumer played a subsidiary role to Josh Charles; she didn’t seem to be the boss in any case. But make no mistake – Schumer is definitely, unequivocally, the boss. Slate’s Amanda Hess writes: “Schumer’s sketches … resist the obvious target and find humor in surprise.” Schumer reunited with Charles on last night’s season 3 premiere of Inside Amy Schumer, this time for a parody of Friday Night Lights called “Football Town Nights.” Here she played an even smaller role, perfectly sending up Connie Britton’s Tami Taylor, wife-of-the-coach (a performance and series I love; today Britton tweeted, “@amyschumer you’re a genius…big white wine cheers to you.”)
A while back, I had a conversation with a (straight) male friend who unapologetically admitted he didn’t like women in leading roles. “I find men more interesting.” Hmmm. (He just got married, by the way.) And he doesn’t need to recognize the irony, because that’s definitely how Hollywood thinks (and most businesses, and most churches, and most legislatures.) Amy Schumer is flipping all of them the bird with a smile on her face. And unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool redneck, there’s probably a smile on your face, too. (On the Internet this morning: “Sorry, but it’s just a fact that male comedians are funnier than women.” Which is so perfect it might have been posted by Schumer herself, under an alias.)
Last night’s episode kicked off with the music video parody “Milk Milk Lemonade.” I saw the clip last week and shared it on Facebook, declaring “This is brilliant.” And that was the least funny part of the episode, which is among the funniest half-hour shows I’ve ever seen; I estimated more laughs than an entire season of SNL. Here’s why: SNL relies on the idea itself being funny (dialogue and actors are an afterthought.) Amy Schumer goes the opposite direction. The idea of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, and Patricia Arquette discussing Julia’s “Last F***able Day” would be where SNL begins and ends. Here, it just keeps getting funnier, as the actresses discuss the precise moment they go from “playing Tom Hank’s girlfriend to his mother.” Patricia: “I didn’t get this commercial last week for AARP because the director said I was too old to play Larry King’s wife.” (It takes an entire episode of SNL to get a single line that good.) And because it’s Amy Schumer’s show, these actresses couldn’t be happier. They are happy Bruce Willis’ new romantic interest is literally a baby lamb (“Aww – they’ll be so happy together.”) Julia chugs a melted pint of ice cream (Jen & Carrie’s Vanilla of a Certain Age) as the others chant “chug, chug, chug,” then belches and farts before she is cast off in a boat as the others drink champagne and salute “how f***able she was for so many years.”
The episode’s highlight is a commercial parody for birth control – it plays like a legitimate commercial right up to the disclaimer: “Ask you doctor if this is right for you…” Which is followed by, “Ask your boss. Ask your boss’s priest. Ask a Boy Scout. Ask a mailman. Ask social media. Ask an old black man and an Asian kid playing chess. Ask someone who just received a cochlear implant. Ask Jeeves. Ask your mom’s new boyfriend. Then ask the Supreme Court. Finally, ask yourself why you insist on having sex for fun?” And when she finally picks up her no-refill prescription, the white, balding, judgmental perfect prick of a pharmacist tells her she’ll have to get all those approvals again next month. The capper: a seven year-old boy comes up to the same pharmacist and asks, “Can I have a gun?” “Yup. Remember, that’s your right.”
In the Amy Goes Deep section, Schumer conducts a legitimate interview with a gorgeous trans woman named Bailey Jay. I found it funny and touching; however, Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder writes that the piece is somewhat tone-deaf to difficulties and perceptions the trans community regularly faces. I can see Lowder’s point – even as we laugh at her send-ups of a straight male-dominated culture, Schumer is capable of missteps in less mainstream areas. Lowder says it’s probably not intentional, which simultaneously excuses and doesn’t excuse the problem.
Amy Schumer keeps pushing boundaries and keeps getting better. I’m sure of this – no other mainstream performer is even close to where she’s working. If it dismays my friend and a few rednecks, they are increasingly in the minority.