Amy Schumer: Comedy’s Most Important Voice

Above: Stand-up comedian Amy Schumer
Above: Stand-up comedian Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer is the most important voice in comedy right now.

With her feature film debut, Trainwreck, on the way and the third season of her Comedy Central (Comedy Network in Canada) show Inside Amy Schumer absolutely killing it, the soon-to-be 34 year old comedian is poised to become a household name, if she isn’t one already, which is great because while she’s great at making naughty jokes about sex and boobs and butts and the like, Schumer also has the balls to stand up and address some important societal issues as well.

The first episode of this year’s third season of IAS featured a pair of funny, yet pointed pieces: “Football Town Nights” and “Last F*@#able Day,” the former a riff on Friday Night Lights where the new coach in town goes against established precedent by installing a “no raping” rule, while the latter featured Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette celebrating Julia Louis-Dreyfuss no longer being sexually desirable according to Hollywood.

When Schumer asks around what time in life that happens for male actors, Fey, Arquette and Louis-Dreyfuss simply laugh at the naïve newcomer to the party because everyone knows that never happens with men in Hollywood.

As great as the opening episode of the season is, the real breakout sketch so far this year – and the one that truly showcases that Schumer is saying something important, not just being “the cool, funny girl” – is the send up of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men entitled “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer,” where and all-star cast of actors serve as a jury in trying to decide if Schumer is hot enough to be on television.

Oscar nominee John Hawkes is the lone dissenting vote in the room to start, but over time and with much convincing – including a “if you were in bed with your glasses off and several drinks in” setup – they all eventually agree that Schumer is, in fact, hot enough to be on television.

While it’s a sly sketch with a bunch of great references that you need to watch twice to catch everything, it’s also very poignant commentary on the hurdles women in show business face when it comes to their looks.

At one point, Paul Giamatti drops an “I wish we had Marilyn Monroe back” line, which is quickly countered by George Riddle, the old man in the room, who offers, “Do you know what size Marilyn was? She was an eight,” as Hawkes slides in next to Giamatti – one of the leading “She’s Not Hot Enough” advocates in the room – and reminds him, “Amy’s a six.”

Her upcoming film, Trainwreck, takes aim at the double standards of Hollywood as well, flipping the “commitment-phobic guy meets good girl” narrative on its ass as a single woman that likes to drink and sleep around that falls for good guy Bill Hader. Directed by Judd Apatow and co-starring Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, John Cena and LeBron James (yep!), it’s bound to be (a) hilarious and (b) on the level of Bridesmaid in terms of giving a female lead a chance to do things that male comedians have been doing for years.

Schumer’s not alone in the “really funny female saying things you should pay attention to” category – Lena Dunham and Girls have found their sweet spot on HBO and Sarah Silverman is always amazing – but Schumer is the one in the spotlight right now and that’s not a bad thing.

She seems to have figured out how to play all the angles; how to attack herself and Hollywood at the same time while still looking like she’s cool with the stereotypes and double standards without pissing off too many dude-bros that just want to her the debatably hot blonde talk all raw about sex.

Schumer’s got everybody listening and that’s terrific because she’s saying some important things.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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