'Inside Amy Schumer': Don't Compare It to Lena Dunham's Work


Tuesday night, on Comedy Central, another veteran from the stand-up world will drop the handheld mic and make an attempt for televised sketch comedy: the Inside Amy Schumer pilot airs at 10:30 p.m. ET. Watch it — or don’t, if the raunch will put you off — but try not to perceive Inside Amy Schumer simply through the lens of feminine TV renaissance. It will only yield a less than detailed image of what is going on the mind of one the funniest comics in America.

Indeed, the might-be big break for the baby-faced comedienne is more than likely much a product that is a result of the Lena Dunham era. It’s true, but it is irksome that the first thing out everyone’s mouth about the new series is some comparison to Girls creator Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, or Bridesmaids. This distinction is sexist and, worse off, quite pedestrian.

“A woman is the main person in a comedy program! Look there’s another one! Female person make funny on TV yay!”

That’s how you sound right now, America, as if Mary Tyler Moore or Lucille Ball didn’t make the laugh riot with a leading lady old hat half a century ago.

Yes, both Dunham and Schumer will, from time to time, portray themselves as sexually disgusting, and they will turn material on the same no-no subject matter (HPV jokes are a certainty), and that is relatively fresh and innovative on television … for a woman to do. Men have sexually self-deprecated for aeons, but for women it's still a fresh bit. However, the separation is in the tone of the character. Where Lena’s Hannah is earnest and kiddish, Amy will be brusque and mean. If her roast of Charlie Sheen is any clue, her show will charge into racial, sexual, and a host of other taboo territories with the reckless abandon that marks a true professional stand-up. Dunham, Kaling, and Fey are all writers first, and so they tread with lighter feet, wouldn’t you agree?

What about a comparison to Nick Kroll, who also his very own sketch show on comedy central? He too, like Schumer, is a renowned comedian, who will, without hesitation, make a graphic reference to ejaculation, or pretend with laser-like precision to be a ditzy bimbo. Where’s his place in the pantheon of courageous young female comedians?

People accuse the comedy world of being sexist, and they are correct. It is a boys' club, even relative to the entertainment industry, which is also male dominated. But this breathless acclaim for any woman who gets a series is not a sign of progress, it’s a sign of stagnation, or worse yet, a flash in the pan. The world will know the comedic equality of woman when one can just have a show without some ridiculous, unwarranted fanfare.