by Ryan Meehan
As much as I love reviewing comedy, one of the hardest things about writing is when I have to throw a comic that I really like under the bus. But sometimes, I’m left with no choice when someone who is really talented puts out something that just doesn’t strike me as impressive. Television is like that – Remember that in a censored world, an artist’s vision for what they hope to broadcast through the satellite dish is heavily bastardized. The odds that you’re going to see something that is exactly the way the artist intended it are about the same as the odds that you’re going to see Stephen Hawking on a fucking jet ski.
A few weeks ago, Amy Schumer’s new show debuted on Comedy Central. So far, the ratings have been good. In fact, the series achieved records ratings the night of its original air date. The response to the show by viewers on the other hand has been awful. If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to Comedy Central’s Facebook page. Go ahead and scroll down to any of the comments about Amy’s show, and take a look at what the viewers have to say.
Pretty harsh, huh? Now I realize those people are simply individuals who subscribe to Comedy Central’s Facebook page, and probably aren’t comedians themselves. But remember, social media is a huge indicator of public opinion when it comes to entertainment nowadays. You can’t discredit the attitude of the viewers because they are the ones tuning in. I have recently found myself in this category, sans posting the actual comments. Additionally, the show has lost one third of its viewers since its premiere, and to put that in perspective that’s half of a million people.
In retrospect, I probably should have seen this coming. When Amy’s special aired last year, I thought the title (“Mostly Sex Stuff”) seemed a bit limiting when you consider what she’s capable of. We even had her as one of our top five comedians who gave breakout performances in 2012. But for some reason although her standup stuff is good and her performances on roasts are great, the show itself is far from entertaining.
Here are the major problems that I have noticed from watching the show:
1. The “I’m a total slut” thing is something that cannot be expanded on any further
This is basic cable. There’s only so far that you can go with sexual material, so if that’s your main hook it better be some really good stuff. In some cases the jokes are decent, but there is a finite amount of bits that one can do about coitus. We get it, you have a lot of sex. Or at least you say you do, which is even worse because then you’re putting on a front. Either way, it gets old after about a half of an episode, and there are only so many angles that you can take when it comes to sex or even relationships in general. Think about it – if every situation comedy featured a family with no kids, they’d run out of shit by the end of three episodes. (Or it would be called “Whitney” and NBC would renew it, but I digress…) The point here is that there are only so many handjob and blowjob jokes available before it becomes stale. The show’s been on for almost a month, and started getting stale two weeks ago.
2. Since female comics usually have a tougher time in the business than male comics do, the fact that every bit is based on the “I’m a total slut” thing makes it even more of an uphill battle
The sad part about this one is that having your own television show really gives you an opportunity to showcase many different comedic abilities. The reason that the Sarah Silverman Program worked was because it wasn’t a female comedy show, it was a comedy show. She didn’t use sex to sell herself at all, and she really zeroed in on the material that she put forward to make the show work. Amy is digging a hole for herself by focusing on bits of a sexual nature, and there are plenty of female comedians that have succeeded without doing so. I can think of two off of the top of my head that I’ve interviewed: Kathleen Madigan and Iliza Schlesinger. So although Amy is good looking, the fact that it is “Mostly Sex Stuff” means that once this gig is up she may really struggle from this point forward. I don’t think that it’s right that women comedians have a harder time in the business, but that’s the way it is and there’s no sense in tipping the scales even further.
3. Overall, the show really struggles to find an identity
So, let me get this straight: You’re going to have a show that uses all of the following types of segments: A “woman on the street” bit, an interview with an expert, sketches, as well as clips from a standup show and that’s going to somehow fit into 21 minutes and 35 seconds? I get that our collective attention span is dwindling with every passing day, but I just think that’s too many different things to cram into such a small hole. (I’m sure she’s probably used a variation of that joke too) Perhaps it’s the length of the bits in proportion to each other that’s the problem here: Take for example the show that Amy’s program airs in place of during the summer months – “The Jeselnik Offensive” starring her boyfriend, comedian Anthony Jeselnik. Anthony also does sketches, interviews, a panel segment, and a monologue yet it doesn’t seem at all like there’s too much going on. The sketches are usually very short, the monologue is very to the point, and the panel stretches over two segments because that’s the most popular portion of the show. Schumer’s is the exact opposite – the sketches are way too long, and if the other segments are going to be that short I’m starting to wonder if they are even necessary at all.
The show jumps around a lot and although skits and interviews on a particular episode might share the same theme, it’s very difficult to tell where they’re going sometimes. There’s no need for a “deleted scenes” segment at the end of any episode of IAS at all either, and you’d be better off just selling that as advertising space. There are a few good fragments here and there, I thought the Tig Notaro thing was pretty funny and parts of other sketches have been decent but overall it just seems way too off target to draw a lot of long-term viewership. I wish that I could sit here and tell you that “Inside Amy Schumer” is going to be on three years from now, but I can absolutely guarantee you that it won’t be. There’s no way that they can continue to milk this cow when America’s digestive system is this lactose intolerant. And that’s not intended to be a sexist statement, it’s simply stating that there really isn’t any juice left in the fruit. And you can imagine what it would be like if I kept using liquid analogies – it would be almost as if I just sat here and made bad sex jokes and then someone turned it into a fucking television show. Case Closed.
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