Amy Schumer | Cutting
Sitting across from Mother for our ritualistic Sunday brunch, I hand her my iPod and press play. Fifteen seconds later, Mother hastily wrenches out the pink ear buds and thrusts them at arms length in my direction, a look of utter bewilderment and dismay on her face as she sputters and moans, lifting a well-manicured, bejeweled hand to palpate and soothe her neck, now mottled with red blotches of embarrassment. “Mother, you realize no one else could hear what was playing on the iPod, right?” I ask. Alas, Mother, temporarily disabled by what she has heard, requires three (more) mimosas to recover from Amy Schumer’s opening salvo, the first of several jokes about the most comical of diseases: AIDS.
Pay attention, comedy fans. Amy Schumer’s new “comedy” album was released to an unwitting public on April 26, 2011 and antibiotics are in short supply. Not since Mother “won” the Kahlua and cream contest at the Guild’s annual holiday party and auction last December (she beat out “Drunk Bernard,” Mother’s long-time gentleman friend and only other entrant) have I witnessed this sort of filthy, insipid stream spew from a woman’s mouth.
Early in the set, recorded live at Denver’s Comedy Works (“What a fucking club!”), Amy breathes, “I’m a teacher. I teach things.” Here is an incomplete list of all the things I learned from Ms. Schumer:
- Southerners are ignorant and get pregnant at a young age
- Black people hate swimming but love to shout at the screen during movies
- Jewish people love Miami
- Asian people’s eyes make them look tired
- Latino guys are clean (Cubans are small)
- Old people look like raisins and shake (“Osteoporosis is adorable!”)
While Ms. Schumer is obviously quick-witted and has a good read on her audience (i.e., she is aware they are most likely drunk, possess regrettable tattoos, and many have attended “some college”), her many talents are wasted on a set that is aimed at the least common denominator. The bulk of her set is divided among sex jokes (“I’m not a lesbian – I mean, obviously I’ll catch a finger now and then”), racist generalizations (“Last night, somebody told me that joke was racist and I was like, ‘I KNOW!’”), and mean-spirited jabs at the disenfranchised and down-trodden. As the set wore on, I found myself holding out hope that she would not make any gay jokes. Sadly, she did. But not before she made fun of the Special Olympics.
Mother suggested that I share my thoughts with Ms. Schumer (“Inspire her, dear”, she slurred. “Look what you did for Radu!”). [Editor’s note: Ms. Duster is referring to her recommendation that Radu Lupa, concert pianist extraordinaire, go for a more “dangerous haircut”, likely accounting for his meteoric rise in popularity among Canadians living in urban centres). So here goes with my open letter to Amy Schumer.
You are smart. You have ideas. You can do better. You should aim high(er). How many low-brow jokes about dried cum, uncircumcised penises, AIDS, non-Whites, and the disabled do you really need? The irony of your set, of course, is that in choosing your material, you have turned yourself into something that you seem to find endless amusement in, a stereotype, in this case a stereotypical, hackneyed comic who, desperate for approval, clings to a body of material that would make Michael Richards feel sorry for you.
You definitely earned your near-“perfect” Penius rating of 98, but your meager Genius rating of 5 is alarming for someone with your potential. There were very few surprises here. Talk more about the Denny’s sous chef, the middle school slap bracelets hidden in your fanny pack, even your sister’s problem with cutting. In short, drop the banal “ass play” jokes and the like. This is fake intimacy and, unlike most of the club’s audience who were likely shit-faced by the time you went on, most of us listening to your album don’t have the benefit of alcohol and/or illicit substances to enhance the quality of your jokes.
Make it more personal. Try harder to make you laugh first and worry about the audience’s reaction second. And for the love of all that is sacred in comedy, lose the syrupy, stereotypic, quasi-self-deprecating delivery where seemingly every other joke is punctuated by your feigned surprise over what you just said (e.g., “WHAT!?!!).
I love you and I want you to shake my metal hand (I will just make sure I have plenty of antibacterial wipes on hand).