Inside Amy Schumer: “Slut-Shaming”
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Inside Amy Schumer: “Slut-Shaming”

He’s here, and you’re disgusting

“Slut-Shaming” is a strong, funny capstone to a remarkable, star-making season of comedy from Amy Schumer. But before I get into that, let’s take a minute and marinate in the balls-out manic majesty of another female performer on the show tonight: Bridget Everett. Never have the words “What I gotta do to get that dick in my mouth?” been sung so joyously (nevermind that I’m not sure they’ve ever been sung before). Schumer had Everett on in season one, and it remains a generous and smart move to showcase the cult alternative cabaret singer in this year’s season finale. Generous, because I’m sure there’s plenty of other Schumer-centric material the comedian could’ve showcased. Smart because it’s the kind of segment where viewers immediately Google the performer following her effervescent, gonzo ode to getting down and dirty. Everett’s song and dance routine takes the energy level of the show to a sizzling, sequined stratosphere of camp.  Everett’s bombastic, filthy shimmy capped this season on a high note, and the sketches preceding her act make up the strongest string of segments from the back half of this season.

“Slut-Shaming” opens with “Sex Prep,” a sketch that recalls “One Night Stand” from the first episode of the first season. In both sketches, Schumer’s character is in one-sided agony over a sexual encounter. This time, Schumer gets a text message from a guy (“Hot Steve”) and drops everything to spend the day primping for their sexy times. She even quits her job and gets a terrifyingly-named “Sphynx Cat” body wax that sounds like it should be illegal. After her exhaustive day of trying to fix her body, the doorbell rings, but when she stops to look at herself in the mirror, she freezes, as snippets from women’s magazines about why she’s disgusting flash through her mind. She hides under her bed. The screen flashes black: “Amy never had sex again.”

The details within the sketch are great; besides the ominous waxing menu, when she’s on the phone trying to book an appointment, her line about not wanting the guy who hurt her one time was spot-on. The opening scene loses points because some of its targets feel tired. The satirical women’s magazine headlines are funny, but it’s been done, and the whole “Asian manicurists are secretly laughing at their white customers” thing was barely fresh when Seinfeld did it in 1995. It’s a rare shaky moment, but “Slut-Shaming” recovers quickly, and Schumer’s character practicing stilted, overly generic date dialog is great. 

Speaking of women mocking other women, “The Gab” seems like it’s going to parody The View, but it uses the women’s morning talk-show trope as a jumping-off point for a sketch about how cruel women can be to one another, especially when they gang up to trash-talk the scapegoat of their group. I am loathe to quote, reference, or otherwise acknowledge Dane Cook, but whenever I see bits about friend group dynamics, I can’t help but think of his bit about every friend group having a “Karen” they keep around to kick around. “The Gab” draws that idea out with Natasha Leggero and Sasheer Zamata playing show hosts who primarily trash their absent, basic friend Janelle.

 Here’s a clear difference in Cook’s comedy and Schumer’s comedy: While Cook endorses the idea of a friend-scapegoat, “The Gab” exists to highlight how petty and shitty it is to gang up on absent friends, and how women will pressure each other to contribute to toxic conversations. Zamata’s character is chastened for not being negative enough about the absent friend’s partner, and the women barely pause when one receives a supportive DM from Janelle. 

A sketch about a politician (Schumer) giving a press conference to apologize about raunchy social media behavior follows a similar format to last episode’s “Bachelorette Disaster,” with most of the punchlines coming from a question and answer with reporters. The descriptions of the politician’s deviant behavior really walked the line between obviously hyperbolic and not that unrealistic, and they were all funny. Between this, “The Gab,” and last week’s parade of sloppy women, it’s clear Schumer both delights in and excels at portraying women behaving badly. 

One of the strongest, weirdest sketches in “Slut-Shaming” is about masculinity. It starts out with Schumer’s character sitting with her boyfriend (Jon Dore) on her trusty blue couch. She’s reading one of those infernal women’s magazines again and asking him whether he thinks Channing Tatum is hot. He doesn’t want to answer. She persists, needling him to make a distinction between the attractiveness level of Eugene Levy and Channing Tatum, insisting he’s homophobic if he won’t say. When he finally admits that, yes, Channing Tatum is objectively a good-looking man, the doorbell rings. It’s Reggie Watts, looking for his cat, apropos of nothing. The two men see each other and are immediately enthralled, and start passionately kissing. I don’t really know what the punchline of that sketch meant. It was unexpected and surreal. It might highlight how absurd it is for straight dudes to think their heterosexuality can be so easily jeopardized. It was a surprising ending, since Schumer’s character’s behavior as a goading girlfriend with a more-comfortable-with-my-sexuality-than-thou attitude seems like it’s going to be set up as the butt of the joke. The ending, with the camera lingering on Schumer’s perturbed face, suggests she’s also skewering women who insist dudebros need to stick to the straight end of the Kinsey scale.

Inside Amy Schumer stuck its second-season landing, and I’m looking forward to see what season three is like. Schumer’s profile has risen dramatically since her show debuted, and now that she’s working on a feature screenplay with Judd Apatow, I hope the show keeps getting her full attention, because it’s one of the finest sketch shows on TV. 

Stray observations:

  • “Is Your Pussy Too Loose To Hang Onto The Perfect Guy” is slightly too vulgar to be an actual women’s mag headline, but the sentiment has been discussed.
  • “Sphynx Cat” is really the name of a bikini wax at certain parlors. Yet another instance of Schumer’s surreal humor veering into weird reality. Asshole reshaping remains mercifully fictional.
  • My main beef with this episode is its unfair denigration of Eugene Levy’s physical appearance. Those brows are hot.
  • Enamored of Everett too? She just released her first album, Pound It! I haven’t heard it yet, but plan to check it out later tonight.
  • Thanks for reading and commenting on this season’s reviews. Hopefully we can do it again same time, next year. I promise not to ever reference Dane Cook again. 

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