Please, if you haven’t yet, go watch “Inside Amy Schumer,” the new show on Comedy Central right now. On the show, Schumer, who was raised Jewish on Long Island, plays with topics like sex, body image and relationships through skits, stand-up and man-on-the-street interviews.
The show, beyond being friggin’ hilarious, inadvertently makes one of the most compelling arguments about why we need more female comedians: so us ladies can laugh at ourselves. Previous discussions on women in comedy have criticized the gender disparity in the field on the simple terms that it is just messed up and wrong. And it is. But what also stinks about men getting to make most of the jokes, beyond the sexism it reveals, is that women never get the piss taken out of them by someone who gets it.
And then came Schumer.
Sure, there have been hilarious women before, but none of them have made comedy as specifically rooted in the experience of women as Schumer, who points her wit directly at the constant undermining and self-deception that young women heedlessly subject themselves to every day.
Take for example this skit in which a group of attractive and seemingly functional young women can’t, for the life of them, take a compliment.
I watched this skit on a Friday and caught myself giving similar responses to compliments three times that weekend. Someone liked my dress. “Oh, this! It is literally the only thing I have to wear right now. I have no clothes. I haven’t been shopping forever!” Someone, who hadn’t seen me for a few weeks, telling me I looked great. “Oh, (eye roll) thanks. Still, five pounds of baby weight to go! I mean, it’s going. But I just wish I fit into all my old clothes already!” My husband, telling me I look nice. “Ew,” says me, thinking about my hair, overdue for a shampooing, in its lifeless ponytail.
I love how Schumer milks my life, our lives, for comedy, all the while not packaging her show as a “women’s comedy show.” I can only hope that, just as us ladies have laughed at jokes about men’s lives for, um, ever, there are some dudes out there now watching her skits on sexting or hook-ups and laughing at our lives. Maybe they will even gain a better understanding of our foibles, contradictions, and why the combination of sex and technology is kind of a disaster. If not, at least it will be one more nail in the coffin of Christopher Hitchen’s ridiculous 2007 argument that women are not funny.
Follow Elissa Strauss on Twitter at @elissaavery.
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.
Why We Need Amy Schumer