L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 925, June 4, 2017
Amy Schumer Folly
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Recently Amy Schumer had a comedy special on Netflix, which was referred to as the Leather Special. Schumer sparked a certain amount of controversy when she claimed members of the Alt. Right conspired to give her a series of one star reviews. While, it is true that the majority of user reviews were certainly negative, it does remain to be seen if it is entirely the doing of the Alt. Right. Supposedly, there were trolls plotting to give her one star reviews at the Redddit social media site, but something about that claim smells fishy. If Amy Schumer really has as many fans as she has claimed, then all the positive reviews should have drowned out the ones that were negative. Obviously, there were other reasons for the low ratings beside Alt. Right trolls who had too much time on their hands.
This seems somewhat reminiscent of last year’s Ghostbuster fiasco when misogynist trolls where blamed for the movie’s trailer receiving one of the lowest ratings in YouTube history. To reflect from the movie’s apparent shortcomings, a factious narrative involving sexist trolls was created by the film company. I am actually seeing the exact same pattern with the Schumer fiasco. Though I think that the real reason behind the negative ratings has more to do with her popularity not being as strong as she and her cronies would have us believe.
There are several reasons for her lack of popularity, one of them being that she is a staunch feminist and a left-wing ideologue. This is the same mistake that many comedians such as Margaret Cho, Janeane Garofalo and Kathy Griffin made when they chose to get on a political high-horse. They were relatively funny comedians who became downright painful to watch when they interjected politics into their routines. Then there are the Samantha Bees, Stephen Colbert’s and Trevor Noah’s of the world who practice political satire on a daily basis, but are never able to so much as coax a smile out of me. There is no doubt that comedy is hard to pull off, but I would say that political satire is even more difficult. Sure, Dennis Miller, George Carlin, Jay Leno and to a lesser extent Jon Stewart were quite successful at political satire. I would argue that it was their ability to make people laugh no matter which side of the spectrum they were on, unlike most comedians who just come off whiney and spiteful because their guy or gal isn’t currently occupying the Oval Office. Though I would say in Amy Schumer’s case it actually has more to do with her feminist beliefs, which many people believe is the very thing that is killing comedy with political correctness.
Schumer has also earned scorn among her fellow comedians in recent years for the allegations that her jokes had been plagiarized from other comedians. In the comedy world, this is a major no-no. Remember what happened to Carlos Mencia, who had his own weekly show on Comedy Central and was performing in front of packed stadiums? He got called out for his joke theft by fellow comedian, Joe Rogan and since then Mencia has pretty much faded into obscurity. So, far Amy Schumer has been given more of a free pass on this issue than Mencia, but I am willing to bet that it has at the very least put a hell of a dent in her reputation.
Of course, there is another reason that no one in the mainstream media or entertainment industry is willing to entertain, at least not out loud (though there are many on YouTube who are more than willing to point this out) is that maybe, just maybe Amy Schumer isn’t really that funny after all. Before I rake any of her performances through the coals, I want to point out that I have nothing but respect for anybody who has the courage to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Stand-up to me is an art that requires a boat load of comedic timing to successfully make people laugh. I have always enjoyed watching stand-up comedy, whether it is the more famous of the stand-up line such as the late Lenny Bruce, the late George Carlin, the late Richard Prior, the still living Eddie Murphy, Sinbad, Paul Rodriguez, Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White or any of the lesser known comedians that are just starting out. So, I tried to approach Schumer’s style of comedy with an open mind by looking at some of her past routines. Quite Frankly, they spent more time making me cringe than laugh. Part of the problem is that her style revolves around a one joke premise about her drunken promiscuity and her vagina. It’s not to say that those things can’t be funny, but it seems like that is most of what her comedy revolves around.
I know that there are some of you who are probably thinking that I am giving her a hard time because she is a woman. While most of my favorite comedians are men, I will say that I have also enjoyed the stand-up routines of Whoop Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, the late Joan Rivers, Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin and many other comedians of the female persuasion. Putting aside that many of the women that I just mentioned would sadly become less funny once they chose to get on a political bandwagon, they all had comedic timing, which is something that Amy Schumer seriously lacks. I remember seeing a piece of one of Joan River’s routines where she made a joke about her vagina and instead of cringing like in the case of Amy Schumer, I laughed hysterically. That shows what a huge difference that comedic timing makes.
I know that comedy is subjective, but it seems to me that the people who found Schumer’s style of comedy funny in the beginning are now starting to realize that she doesn’t really have that much substance after all. If you take a look at many of the reviews left by the so-called Alt. Right trolls, many of the reviews are along the lines of “I like Amy Schumer, but…” Many of the reviews complain about her jokes being stale, which shows the downside of having an entire career based on a one joke premise. Eventually people get tired of your style of comedy and you end up like Pauley Shore, Tom Green and Will Ferrell.
Though I would offer a few words of advice for Amy Schumer. While I have said that your comedic timing isn’t there, I could be wrong. The way you could go about proving me wrong is to work on your entire routine. I know that you have a writing team that produces your material, so I recommend trying to come up with your own jokes for once. If you feel that you still need your writers, then you need to make sure that the material they are giving you is original and not copied from other comedians. Second, you need to phase out your drunken slut jokes because they are getting old real fast. Also, enough jokes about your vagina smelling like a barnyard animal. Disgusting doesn’t automatically equal funny. A truly good comedian should know when to evolve. Another option is that you just keep doing the same thing that you have been doing throughout your career and keep blaming Alt. Right trolls when people finally get tired your vagina jokes. If you choose the last option, then I recommend enjoying your fame while you still have it. It won’t last forever. Just ask Pauley Shore.
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