Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Inside Amy Schumer: “Raise A Glass”

Illustration for article titled Inside Amy Schumer: “Raise A Glass”

The opening sketch in “Raise A Glass” takes Amy Schumer’s character to hell—a hell populated by Colin Quinn playing a banal nattering man, an aggressively milquetoast  Mephistopheles employing a sort of torture by small talk—and the episode’s preoccupation with women at their worst is a kind of prolonged trip into the underbelly of female culture.

“Raise A Glass” goes after a certain type of woman: The floozy gets skewered, repeatedly. Sketches like “Raise A Glass,” “Sauced,” and “Bachelorette Disaster” are focused on unruly women at their worst, and their behavior is the target of Schumer’s comedy. I could probably argue that the social norms coaxing women to behave this way are the real target, but I don’t think that’s true. Schumer is going after the same type of boozy, self-involved woman that she often positions herself as in her stand-up, but it’s not to make some grand social point. It’s because women behaving badly are funny.

Amy Schumer, the successful performer, writer, and general-comedy-empire-haver, is obviously a very different person from the versions of herself she writes into sketches on her show. She’s a different person from her stand-up persona. Her touching, honest speech at the Ms. Gala earlier this month made the chasm between her comedic incarnations and the thoughtful person who comes up with them especially apparent. Schumer milks the bawdier parts of personality to comic effect. The versions of herself she plays are often goonish and petulant, but the woman is a 32-year-old showrunner. She’s not a hot mess; she just plays one on TV.

And man, Schumer plays drunk like a pro. Whether she’s teetering on heels as a tipsy, demonic bridesmaid or stumbling around a late-night kitchen attempting to cut a lime with a spoon, Schumer nails acting hammered, which makes “Sauced” a fun sketch to watch. Schumer and Greta Lee (Marnie’s boss Soojin on Girls) play magnificently drunk roommates in a cooking show. A cooking show parody isn’t the most original choice, but the sketch is full of spot-on details poking fun at party-girl types (the expired Chobani in the back of the fridge is perfect, as is the Lexapro prescription). Though Schumer’s character in the “Raise A Glass” sketch is similar to the blowhard wedding-ruiner she played earlier this season, she takes that character to such an extreme in tonight’s episode that it doesn’t feel like a retread.

This season of Inside Amy Schumer is getting lauded for bringing a distinctly feminist perspective to Comedy Central. Sketches like “A Very Realistic Military Game” are unabashed pokes at institutionalized sexism, and the show has included some of the most incisive, brashly pointed comedy on television because it steers right into gender dynamics and cultural myopia. This brashness gives the show a distinctive fingerprint. But that’s not its only strength (and if it were, it’d probably feel more like a surprisingly charming after-school special than a sketch comedy show). “Raise A Glass” isn’t a particularly feminist entry into the Inside Amy canon, but the decision to poke fun at bad girls isn’t anti-woman. “Raise A Glass” targets party girls, but even in its most biting moments, it’s clear Schumer and the writing staff have a certain empathy for their foolish boozers. During the standout “Bachelorette Disaster” scene, the women described, as Schumer’s sheriff dryly notes, are “the worst.” But there’s something so recognizable about their brand of being terrible, with the cattiness and puff-painted goblets. Also, the vivid descriptions of the disaster scene are so good. Chief coroner Barnabas Mollins’ (Todd Barry) rundown of the fatalities was my favorite moment of the night (poor Beth, who wasn’t going to go but then said “fuck it”). The women in “Raise A Glass” are grotesqueries, but they’re less sinister than they are winking.

Sometimes, bridesmaids get insecure and make a crappy, cutesy, underhanded toasts. Sometimes, bachelorette party-goers act like buffoons. Sometimes, roommates go out, do shots, and smoke inside Fiddlesticks. “Raise A Glass” is a funny examination of bad behavior, and as Inside Amy Schumer’s strong second season winds to a close, I’m still not sick of seeing her pretend to be wasted.


Stray observations:

  • Again, on another viewing, the details in “Sauced” are great. I love how Greta Lee’s character comforts Schumer by mentioning the bartender didn’t let anyone smoke inside the bar except her.
  • The pronunciation of “Füd” was exactly as pretentious as it should have been.
  • I did not know those penis straws are called “dickie sippies,” so that was a fun and educational installment.
  • “Fwipped” is definitely not a word, Bobby Kelly. But points for creativity.
  • When they refer to the bachelorette party victims as being in a “Rat King” situation, I got very excited, because that is one of my favorite disgusting urban legends. If you don’t know what it is, here is a very good explanation of what the Rat King is. But be warned: You cannot un-know what the Rat King is.