Caricatures

What Went Wrong With… Amy Schumer?

A caricature of Amy Schumer by What Went Wrong Or Right With...? for whatwentwrongwith.com

Amy Schumer is a comedian who is labelled “refreshing”, “controversial”, and even “blue” but for me she is not at all refreshing and she isn’t very controversial, and despite the fact that she incessantly talks about sex, most of her jokes strangely come across as very banal and tame. I’ve also heard her described as someone who “defies sexist conventions” as though she’s some kind of feminist hero of contemporary comedy. This is also misleading; Schumer’s comedy falls flat when attempting to comment on society’s attitudes toward women, if anything she magnifies and affirms them.

Amy Schumer rose to fame with her TV show Inside Amy Schumer in which she and the rest of the cast revelled in the fact that they were making comments about sexism. I remember one particular bit where similar to Goodness Gracious Me and their race-reversed “Going Out For An English” sketch, Schumer swapped male and female roles to outline the sexist world we live in. Parodying the food-and-boobs establishment “Hooters” with “O’Nutters”, the sketch made a point about one minute aspect of pop culture sexism (although Hooters isn’t as popular as it was in the twentieth century). But, whilst making a slight comment, the sketch itself forgot to be funny and that for me was the biggest problem with the show.

Inside Amy Schumer was a programme that never once made me laugh, it didn’t start off funny, it didn’t get any funnier and yet her success somehow sky-rocketed. It’s not like I watched “Inside” religiously but I watched it every so often and I was always stunned at how mediocre it was. Why was this run-of-the-mill programme so talked about? How was someone this lame so famous? Questions I still have no answers for.

Inside Amy Schumer was a TV programme that felt very repetitive, even if you watched it out of sequence, it was almost the same episode every time you tuned in. At some point you’d come across a sketch where Schumer plays a woman drinking wine at home in her sweatpants and without makeup, fretting about her “man” and what he’ll think of her. “I yearn for sex but am I sexy enough to attract shallow men?” Yawn. This kind of contrived setup was everywhere on the show, in fact it felt so monotonous that it discouraged you from watching any more.

“I’m a woman, I like sex, I’m slutty”, the content of Inside Amy Schumer rarely changed, for me there was nothing really new or refreshing about her or her jokes. But whilst acknowledging the repetitiveness and the tedium of her TV show, the main problem was the fact that Schumer reaffirmed sexist words used to describe women who enjoy sex. Why keep referring to female sexual desires as “slutty” and why keep labelling women who enjoy sex “sluts” and “whores”? That surely keeps women on a different moral standard than men for doing the same thing? These kinds of contradictions plagued not only her TV show but also her stand-up shows, in fact this is something she keeps doing without acknowledging the selling-out.

If you’ve never seen her, Schumer is a female stand-up who almost always wears short skirts, knee-high boots or high-heel shoes (overtly sexual outfits) and yet she routinely talks about the wrongs of bending to male desires (short skirts and high-heel shoes). This for me is a glaring contradiction. You can’t conform to the traditional female appearance and uphold the male gaze and then believably complain about the skewed sexualisation of women. I’d prefer an actual “fuck you!” to the heterosexual male construct of female sexuality by someone who doesn’t then adhere to it. Amy wants men to find her physically attractive by conforming to the very sexist conventions she apparently detests; cleavage, figure-hugging outfits, high heels, I mean c’mon Schumer, either diss it and don’t do it or do it and don’t diss it.

Schumer usually goes much further however, she has made umpteen sketches where female stereotyping is the main focus. For instance she essentially said that dressing unlike a stereotypical female equates to being unattractive. Seek out her “Everett Vs. Schumerenka” tennis sketch, her “Plain Jane” cop sketch, or that “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup/What Makes You Beautiful” parody where she basically states that women aren’t attractive without makeup or worse, that women who are physically powerful look “manly”. The fact that she keeps mocking women who aren’t “glamorous”, who don’t wear makeup, or who don’t dress “sexily” takes away from her wannabe “feminist” and “equality” stance. I mean, just look at a makeup-less Alicia Keys or Evan Rachel Wood in a suit, it’s not like you can’t be sexy and beautiful without stereotypical female garb, the only person who seems to be knocking it and the only person conforming to it is Schumer herself.

On a side note, I’ll add that “being proud” and even “bragging” about female sexuality isn’t exactly new. I remember Jenny Eclair doing essentially the same thing in her act as far back as the 90s but she was much, much funnier (she even added ageing to the topic of sex and female sexuality).

Also the “ladette” culture that came out of that same decade already attempted to put women on a level playing field with men in regards to being openly sexual. Schumer seems to have missed the sex-boat by two decades.

The other problem I have with Amy Schumer is the fact that she doesn’t like to be labelled a “sex comic”. Strangely, despite a sizeable proportion of Schumer’s work being focussed on sex, Amy apparently dislikes being associated with it. Not wanting to be called a one-trick-pony (although her one trick isn’t all that entertaining) she complained in her stand-up show Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo that she’s labelled as such, saying “I mention one U.T.I. and people are like…”. But then her next joke is one about… wait for it… cum, how non-sexual. Here’s an idea, if you’re not a “sex comic” or don’t want to be labelled a “sex comic” maybe stop filling your routine with 95% sexual content. Ironically it’s Schumer herself who vehemently declares she isn’t a “sex comic” as though that’s a bad thing, again having some kind of moral outcry at the very thing she apparently wants people to accept; women being openly sexual.

If you take a look at her The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo book, Schumer is on the front cover topless and looking coquettish. Essentially, everything Schumer does is based around the contrivances of female sexuality. Even the title of her TV show featured a double entendre; “Inside Amy Schumer” and the interviewing section “Amy Goes Deep”, but this kind of sexual innuendo doesn’t really do anything to subvert the sexist construct that exists in contemporary society. If you yourself are someone who obeys mainstream ideas or ideals of what is “feminine” and what is “female sexiness”, then a. how can you mock those conventions? and b. how can you complain about being associated with sex?

It’s pretty staggering that Schumer doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed (ooh err missus) into being a certain type of comedian and yet all of her shows contain lashings (ooh, saucy) of sexual gags (ooh… oh forget it). Amy Schumer needs to come to terms with the fact that it’s only stereotypical men who desire stereotypical women and it seems that Schumer is fine with being that very stereotype, not once bucking any societal trend in regards to women and sexuality, either in real life, on stage, or on screen.

Aside from her inconsistencies, there’s also the problem with her stand-up act, for me she has no rhythm, she talks too much with little return and the punchlines are few and far between. Schumer seems to be so pleased with saying “rude words” to an audience that she forgets about setup and delivery. In Amy Schumer Live: Mostly Sex Stuff (where you see Amy dressed as Red Riding Hood in the opening titles with phallic-shaped mushrooms and unicorns fucking in the middle and foreground, not a “sex comic” ehh?) she opens with a joke about “fucking kids”. Since that particular gag at least follows an actual pattern of a joke with not one but two punchlines, she breaks away from telling it and explains to the audience that “it’s a joke” (maybe because the majority of her routine is just her endlessly talking on stage like some sort of wannabe controversial soccer mom who’s wandered onto a TED seminar). Joke formats aside, yet again her topics for this particular show include; underage sex, birth control, venereal disease, oral sex, cumshots, porn, menstruation, rape, fisting, pubic hair. Okay so it’s called “Mostly Sex Stuff” but the subject matter becomes like listening to white noise, you actually get bored of hearing about sex which I guess is Schumer’s only achievement.

In this special, Schumer once again complains about “having to wear” thongs and high heels and why women go to such lengths to attract men whereas men make little or no effort to attract women (which isn’t exactly true). But again, if she is to be critical of “tarting up” as it were, why does she keep conforming to these very ideals? In this show she again spews this contradictory drivel whilst wearing high heals and her thighs showing, for all we know she’s also wearing a thong under all that stereotypical female shite, so why piss and moan about something you obviously do?

Adding to her list of contradictions, in Mostly Sex Stuff, Schumer is also critical about the appearance of uncircumcised penises but then she later complains about women having to shave their pubic hair. But surely if you have an unnatural aesthetic preference when it comes to male genitalia then why be so critical about the opposite sex desiring the same? These kinds of contradictions are barely worth mentioning however since after being subjected to Amy Schumer’s mediocre stage act, the main thing you’re concerned with is how unfunny her routine is and when you can leave or switch it off. Her Netflix Leather Special (which was so monotonous that I turned it off half way through) was also filled with the incessant talk about her pussy and how it smells and looks and tastes and sounds and feels and whatever else it does and doesn’t do, but again, it wasn’t the subject matter itself that was the problem. If you’re going to talk at length about your twat all I ask is that you don’t be a boring one.

At this point I’ll add that I find her movies to be mundane and lacklustre too. I started watching Trainwreck and switched it off after around half an hour. John Cena was funnier than her which says a lot about these lame comedians working today. Just like Spy where Jason Statham, the action star, was funnier than Melissa McCarthy, the comedian, it seems that all the so-called funny men and women of today aren’t as funny as bodybuilding jocks. What the fuck is going on with mainstream comedy these days? But I digress.

The one thing I can foresee under an article criticising a female sex comic, is the contrived response; “You’re saying this because it’s a woman talking about sex, you wouldn’t care if it was a man!” even Schumer herself has said something similar in her stand-up routine. So the go-to argument in defence of her is you’re sexist? That for me is a lazy comeback to any criticism she faces. The main reason people dislike Schumer is because she’s not funny, the fact that she keeps harping on about sex and her genitals is by-the-by, a talented comedian could wax lyrical about their punani or schlong and make it funny but in the case of Amy she barely makes you grin let alone laugh. I’ll point out that if a man kept telling jokes about his dick without managing to make you chuckle, the reaction would be exactly the same; he isn’t funny so why is he famous? The problem when it comes to Schumer is that she’s an “unfunny sex comic” rather than a “sex comic”, male and female sexuality doesn’t even factor into it.

It’s annoying when it’s reported that the right don’t approve of Amy Schumer, this makes it look like only prudes, sexist men, and religious types dislike her. It was reported a while back that the alt-right were apparently down-voting her Netflix Leather Special to the extent that the company removed their star rating and issued a thumbs up or down score instead. The main thing wrong with this story is that it sounds as if only the right disapprove of Schumer as though people from the left have to automatically like her (reminds me of the public perception of Lena Dunham). I can unequivocally say that I being left, if not far-left, find Amy Schumer bland beyond belief. I don’t dislike her because of her topics, far from it, I dislike her because she’s a contradicting sell-out. Why is it that the most mediocre, least talented people are rising to the top? People like Schumer are sold to the public as “every liberal’s and every woman’s favourite comedian” but she isn’t, in fact it’s not that easy to entice demographics by stereotype; women must like all women, liberals must like everyone who purports to be liberal, that itself is surely prejudice?

Speaking of prejudice, there is also the occasions where Schumer brings contrived race-based gags into her show and routine. There were the played-out racist gags about Asian women and black men (from Mostly Sex Stuff) that felt like listening to Sarah Silverman from a decade and half ago (if not for the fact that Amy at least acknowledges her jokes are racist). I also recall the “Generations” sketch from Inside Amy Schumer about an institution teaching older generations of white people how to speak in a politically correct way. This wasn’t exactly apt since her other sketches (such as the “Interracial wedding photographer”) was teetering on pointless racism itself. Is bigotry really a generational problem or has prejudice just morphed into fake-satire? Judging by the likes of Natasha Leggero and Sarah Silverman I guess the answer’s yes.

With corny dubstep music playing over her TV show titles, conforming to sexual stereotypes, acting like a ladette from the 1990s, dressing like someone from the 2000s, is anything that Amy Schumer does “refreshing” or “new”? Everything she touches seems a decade too late like most of the topics “handled” on her TV show. And whilst on the subject of her TV programme, it took numerous writers to pen Inside Amy Schumer so I guess the obvious extension from using other writers is to outright copy other comedians. YouTube is filled to the brim with videos showing Amy Schumer’s stand-up matching (many times almost word for word) other comedian’s routines. This begs the question; if you’re going to plagiarise other people’s comedy then why can’t you be as funny as them?

Not being funny whilst being a female comedian who makes sex jokes is almost like a male-approved infiltrator deployed to scupper actual feminism. It’s strange that Amy Schumer doesn’t do much in the way of dispelling the false myth of unfunny female stand-up comedians.

The strangest aspect of Schumer’s comedy is that she unrelentingly talks about “pussy”, “cocks”, “cum”, and “cunts”, but you sit there yawning as it washes over you. It must take some kind of special talent to make sex sound so dull and tedious. With such mediocre comedy, it’s possible to sit through her entire routine with a straight-face. And speaking of faces, I doubt that Amy Schumer’s flat-face ever attracted anybody other than the hundreds and thousands of imaginary men that hound her within her sketches and stand-up routines. Whoa there I hear you say, why bring her looks into this article? Well, since she’s someone who keeps stooping to heterosexual conventions about female beauty then I think it’s apt for people to tell her she’s not only a bland comedian but also a bland looking person. With an almost featureless face, a massive philtrum, no top lip, and two mint Tic Tacs for front teeth, Amy Schumer looks like Cindy Lou Who from that Jim Carrey Grinch movie if she grew up to be a mediocre, sex-obsessed, overrated, fake-feminist stand-up comedian.

If you don’t have the stamina to watch Amy Schumer’s monotonous output, I’ll sum up her television show and her stand-up shows in a sentence; “I dress like a slut”… “I’m a slut and I’m proud”… “why do men want women to dress like sluts?”… imagine that in a never-ending loop of pointlessness.

Mostly Stale Sex Stuff.

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7 replies »

  1. Very well said. I haven’t seen as much of her as you but from what I have seen, I agree, this woman really doesn’t do us women any favours. I absolutely hate women who call themselves feminists or try to depict themselves as such when everything they actually DO panders to men/ideals of women, Daisy Lowe is another example of this, I’ve heard her say she’s a feminist in interviews more than once and yet she poses for men’s magazine. These women are at best confused and misguided and at worst sellouts as you said. Grrrrr!

    • Germaine Greer would be proud…

      Daisy Lowe Esquire Cover
      Daisy Lowe Esquire bottom on bike

      When it comes to sexuality or nudity, there’s ways of empowering yourself and ways of demeaning yourself, many times it seems minorities (ethnic, sexual, religious etc.) choose the wrong one. If you claim to be a feminist particularly, then make a point, don’t just show up and bend over for a camera.

      Feminist messages painted onto topless women

  2. Great post! This is so true, she is not funny. The most complicated thing about sexist stereotypes is that they are enabled by both men asking for something and women complying, like men saying they like short skirts and high heels and women like Amy Schumer wearing them. If no women complied then the desires of the “male gaze” would be dead in the water. When a woman, especially an adolescent girl, sees women around her doing certain things, she feels pressured to do the same thing. Personal agency is a big part of feminism — Amy Schumer electing to wear a certain outfit because she likes it is better than a producer forcing her to put it on for ratings. Unfortunately though, the outward appearance is the same, and when you don’t know why each individual woman has chosen to dress a certain way or wear certain makeup, it just looks like that’s what everyone does and therefore that’s what you as a woman are supposed to do. This is something I often think about as someone who both independently loves girly fashion and wants every woman to feel comfortable with her clothes, hair, face, and body — that ironically my appearance could be complicit with sexist stereotypes and reinforce them, even if that’s not what I set out to do. BUT you can’t be a hypocrite. With Schumer’s fame and her platform, I would like to see her use it to show other women different looks that are not so conventionally feminine.

    • It’s a tricky situation because almost anything a female wears can be viewed as sexual by a heterosexual male. My criticism about “sexual” clothing doesn’t apply to everyday people, men and women should wear whatever makes them feel beautiful/cool/happy etc. I would say that people don’t generally have to over-think their dress but like you said in the case of Amy Schumer, she states her opinions about women’s clothing in her comedy and that contradicts her appearance. Hypocrisy is never in style.

  3. She’s a hack. The male equivalent would be telling a guy who tells dick and fart jokes and then it coming out even those were stolen.

  4. Amy Schumer is the definition of a social justice warrior: Fake, Whiny, Entitled, Hypocritical, Attention Seeking, and Egotistical. She sucks so bad. Never once has she made me laugh. She goes on and on about sex and then she has the gall to complain about sexism. If you’re gonna talk about sexist conventions, why would you conform to them at the same time? That’s like an Uncle Tom complaining about racism. Pick a side. It’s clear that she has identity issues. There is no way a confident person would do what she does.

  5. She is funny. However for quite some time I doubt she has actually had sex for someone who talks about it a lot. But she talks about it like an obsessed teenage girl who has learned everything she knows about sex from internet porn. She is now famous enough that she cannot go out seeking sex in anonymity. And has there ever been a kiss and tell about her? Has anyone ever met anyone who knows anyone who claims to have had a sexual relationship with her? We have all heard the jokes about Jewish women who have regular sex ie once a year on his birthday and then as quickly as possible. I fear Amy may be that person.

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