Tonight’s Inside Amy Schumer has some excellent sketches, as every episode this season has. It doesn’t have anything as razor-sharp as “A Very Realistic Military Game” from earlier this year, but the overall quality and laugh-per-segment rate remain high. This is the back half of the season now, and “Slow Your Roll” suffers slightly from rehashing old material. It’s still a solid night of comedy, and the sketches with Janeane Garofalo and Mike Birbiglia might make a season “Best Of” reel.
The opening sketch isn’t anything special, with a one-note joke rooted in scatological humor. Schumer is playing a version of herself, a comedian made good who hires an interior design to deck out her new home. When the interior designer insists that Schumer spends 80 percent of her day on the toilet, I laughed. The concept of the poncy designer fixated on the “shitter” and having one blind spot to vulgarity and social conventions isn’t inherently unfunny, but the material fell flat. Schumer inhabits her fictional self with varying degrees of narcissism and delusion; sometimes, the “Amy Schumer” she plays is a borderline-deranged sociopath, and other times she’s closer to the charming showrunner. Here, the fictional Schumer is fairly tamped down, but her aversion to the interior designers’ toilet fixation plays weird. Would she really be that offended if that happened? Sure, it’s inappropriate, but it wasn’t convincing that she would get so flustered. Sketch comedy certainly doesn’t have to be rooted in realism to be successful, but it didn’t feel real within the universe of the sketch. The interior designer’s revulsion to pee as the sketch’s resolution was gross, but anticlimactic.
The first sketch is the night’s weakest, though. The second sketch segment, following a short and perfect stand-up bit about Schumer’s fake low-carb diet, is on par with some of the show’s strong earlier sketches where women exacerbate their worst impulses by feeding off each other. Here, Jeaneane Garofalo plays Cheryl Oberwood, nutritionist to the stars. Schumer’s character goes in for a consultation and Cheryl gives her several truly horrible/amazing diet options. The Instagram diet, where people take filtered photos of their food and post it to social media instead of eating it is, unfortunately, something that may exist in some form or another. “Tweet it, don’t eat it,” says Oberwood. Each diet Oberwood suggests is more awful than the next, from the Chilean Miner Diet to something called ‘Kentucky Meth Cycle’ that sounds spectacularly illegal. Garofalo is a game scene partner, and the rapid-fire jokes here all land. When the skeleton/client appears at the end, it hits the nail on the head with zero subtlety, but it’s appropriately dark, underlining how messed up extreme diets are. In contrast to the first sketch, where the punchline came off forced, the resolution to this scene ends with a perfect cynical button.
The other stand-out sketch features Mike Birbiglia as Schumer’s Ph.D.-pursuing, Rorschach print-having non-boyfriend, Drew. After spending the night together, Schumer finds Drew’s Rorschach collection and accuses him of having a stash of photos of her mother’s vagina. It’s weird and great. It isn’t really skewering anything, and it doesn’t have to. The character of a woman convinced every inkblot is literally a print of her mother’s vagina is so loopy and strange, it’s a pleasure to watch. “Here’s my mom’s vagina when she didn’t want to teach me to ride a bike!” She interrogates Drew with a deranged intensity. It’s the third two-hander sketch between Schumer and another actor, but the first one where she gets to play the bonkers character. Birbiglia does low-key and befuddled so well that it keeps the scene grounded and allows Schumer to play hysterical.
“Slow Your Roll” mostly full of sketches that work, with a few standout segments. It’s a consistent, solidly funny episode, but it Schumer’s not covering any new ground here. It’ll be hard to top her “Amy Goes Deep” guest after last week’s sublime interview with a 106-year-old woman, but this week’s segment recycled a guest from a previous session. A few episodes ago, Jim Norton appeared with some other comedian friends for a group interview, and here Schumer brings him back for a conversation about his perversions.
There’s nothing wrong with the interview with Norton. It’s candid and funny. The comedians’ friendship makes it feel intimate, like eavesdropping on a particularly dishy conversation about private peccadilloes. Since Schumer has already interviewed a phone-sex operator, a sex columnist, and a porn cameraman this season, the dip into Norton’s perversions isn’t as exciting (although it was substantially kinkier, with talk of human toilets and golden showers). Maybe I just want Schumer to exclusively interview the extremely elderly for the rest of the season. Either way, it’s a good interview, but it isn’t as unexpected as some of the other conversations.
That lack of surprise happens a few times in “Slow Your Roll.” In one case, repetition within the episode dulls an otherwise funny sketch called “Mom Computer Therapy.” Schumer covers the frustration young people have when their parents are awful at technology, with Deborah Rush playing her mother. Schumer’s character invites her mother to her therapist’s office so she can deal with her issues around her mom’s Luddite tendencies. The sketch heightens the mom’s ineptitude and then throws in a solid twist when it turns out Schumer’s therapist is a tech bonehead, too. But when Schumer’s character foams at the mouth for the final punchline, it isn’t as funny as it would’ve been if another sketch hadn’t already ended with someone unexpectedly gurgling.
- “Phylicia Rashad has said the nicest stuff about you.” “She’s incredible. She’s 90.” (Phylicia Rashad is 65.)
- The Beyoncé diet, according to the nutritionist sketch, is where Schumer finds out what Beyoncé eats and then tells the nutritionist. That is different than the Beyoncé diet I once tried for a very ill-advised two days as an undergrad involved drinking liters of lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper in it. It’s basically the Master Cleanse diet Kelly does in season five of The Office and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
- Glad to see Jon Glaser back on the show during the sketch about creepy glasses. Also liked that “Uncle Back Rub” was a frame style.