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Inside Amy Schumer and the Problem of Positional Comedy

Inside Amy Schumer and the Problem of Positional Comedy

TInside Amy Schumer’s sitcom “Dr. Congress” depicts a distinct hell: a comedian in a sterile examination room, seeks gynecological care from a doctor, but instead meets four arrogant, ignorant, puritanical men. Her medical care is actually at the hands of politicians, members of the all-male, unscientific House Committee on Women’s Health.

The sketch, from the show’s fourth season, was released in April 2016. But watching it earlier this month, I mistook it for a recent, slightly off season of Inside Amy Schumer on Paramount+, the first show since it was on hiatus half a year before Trump was elected. . This is partly because the sketch’s grotesque satire has only been removed by degrees from our current reality—particularly in the absence of Roe in Wade, unscientific panels of politicians are now making medical decisions for women across the country. (As the Pennsylvania Senate candidate, Dr. Oz, said in a recent debate: Decisions about abortion should be between women, doctors, and “local political leaders.”)

But that’s also because the sitcom feels in line with a lot of Season 5 of Inside Amy Schumer, which attempts to denigrate some of the big issues facing women with barely exaggeration, and graphics whose absurdities are less provocative or enlightening than declarative. Instead of a joke, the perforated sentence is a subtle stream of righteous anger with a subtext that is essentially: “It’s bad, we know.”

‘Doctor Congress’ will actually be one of the best political sketches of the show’s fifth season, which premiered last month and, over the course of four episodes, has shown the limits of what a sitcom comedy can achieve in 2022. New episodes have madness Or the well-noticed cut—New York’s “fart park,” women smugly conjure up “gratitude!” For all cosmetic procedures that enhance their body’s natural appreciation. But she has provided sketches that deal with dire causes — wars over reproductive and trans rights, as well as sexual abuse — that work more like public service announcements than comedy. They are not mistaken, they are not broken words and from a clear point of view, but that does not make them funny.

Take “Colorado,” a sketch from the premiere in which Schumer stars in a fake tourist ad for a state with lax abortion laws, encouraging women to visit from a number of neighboring states without mentioning abortion by name (for those in Iowa and Missouri, she says, Illinois is also a great option.) The sketch has the sheen of comedy — lines like “I could have gone to a town in Texas with a great DA, if you know what I mean,” with crisp fun — but fails to laugh. It is hardly a distortion. There is nothing surprising, let alone funny, when he says punch that things are as bad as you know them. Another Infographic Reveals The Worst Fears Of A Texas Republican – Surprise! A trans woman uses the bathroom that matches her gender.

Or take another infographic, “O-Week,” one of the few not shown in Schumer, where an RA college prepares freshmen during orientation by handing out increasingly confused gift bags—rape whistles, wands, and swords—and announcing Every girl goes out for her. There is nothing obvious about suggesting that college campuses are hotbeds of sexual assault; If anything, the sitcom seems to respond to 2014-2015, when Rolling Stone’s failed story and documentary The Hunting Ground focused on colleges’ treatment of sexual misconduct. Writer and college student Sasha Seinfeld (Jerry’s daughter) says in one of the many interstitial ads for Season 5 that empties the humor by explaining the joke, which hardly goes much deeper than “shit is bad, that’s there.”

To be fair, Schumer has always had a hard time rebooting her feature show in 2022, only six years but cultural eons from the time he left, during which time the common American political reality has disintegrated and the locus of cutting-edge comedy has shifted online. The 2013-2016 original Inside Amy Schumer, arguably the heyday of pop feminism, made her lead one of the country’s most popular comedians for a reason: When she was good, she was cool—cut, insightful. And decisively funny. Schumer demonstrated an intelligent understanding of upper-middle-class white women: how they communicate, how they compromise, how they introduce themselves to other women and are still, despite their privileges, constrained by sexism. She specialized in identifying familiar and ambiguous cultural tropes, which she distorted to the point of obviousness (see: The Wine Wife in “Football Town Nights,” the elderly actresses in “Last Fuckable Day,” the women’s war skewering compliments.

This kind of comedy — impressions of tropes you know on sight but can’t classify, bits of white women’s narcissism or the limitations of sexism — has boomed online since Inside Amy Schumer went off air. Scroll for a few seconds on TikTok or Twitter and you’ll see comedians up front dressed in half-exaggerated characters. Due to the sheer speed and inevitability of social media, the task of finding an original angle, or a metaphor to beat it and have a blast, is becoming more challenging and personalized.

But Schumer and her writers haven’t found the right recipe in either substantive or political humor, a category that has generated diminishing returns over the years. Case-based comedy is only so funny when the stakes are higher, the margin is more common, and the source content is more confusing. Saturday Night Live has hit this wall for years with its cool openings, whose main reveal has been to see celebrities playing more for impressions, still struggling to distort the already murky political reality for laughs. Sketching or comedic shows tied to a certain level of contemporary discourse, such as Showtime’s Ziwe, HBO’s Pause with Sam Jay, and That Damn Michael Che — all of which feature black hosts with different views of Schumer — have struggled to break out. There is an ever-evolving stagnation of late-night television, whose monologues have remained stuck in the right-wing response loop two years after Trump left office.

The reboot Inside Amy Schumer is the latest to hit that ceiling, using the sketch comedy as an audio heartthrob rather than a black light. As reality becomes more and more absurd, with characters devoid of sincerity, there is little air left for sarcasm. The nicks scratch the itch, but they don’t tickle. There is nothing inherently wrong with these graphics – they are well done and made. But when the intended response appears to be a nod of acknowledgment rather than a bang, those jokes may have run out.


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