Why I Was Disappointed in Amy Schumer’s HBO Special

Everyone that knows me well is aware that I have an obsession with Amy Schumer. I have been following her career for years between her Howard Stern appearances, her comedy central roasts/ special/ series, and now all of the other million things she’s been doing since Trainwreck has made her a household name.

I was so excited for her HBO special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, particularly because I remember during one of her first Howard Stern appearances she mentioned that performing at the Apollo would be one of her dreams come true. However, within fifteen minutes I was already disappointed.

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Speaking generally, the most unfortunate aspect of the special was that 90% of the material was regurgitated from either Inside Amy Schumer, her previous special Mostly Sex Stuff, or from talk show appearances. For example, that whole “hot girls in LA” bit was on her show, except she used the city of Miami instead.

I was not only expecting more fresh and exciting material, but I also thought that now that she is a big star and preaches feminism, she would stop slut shaming herself so much. It seemed like the majority of the material was making fun of how much she sleeps around. When, in fact, on Howard Stern she revealed she actually has only had one one-night-stand in her life. I understand that all comics are performers and make up a good portion of their material, but when one’s onstage persona contrasts so drastically with the message she sends on her show and in public, it is troubling to me. In a recent interview she explained that now that she is more famous she is going to retire the “dumb blonde” persona, and her SNL monologue made me hopeful that was really happening. She also made a moving speech earlier this year about how she didn’t have a lot of confidence in college and slept with a guy who used her, but then made light of the same subject in her routine. Although she kind of made up for it when she later described how stupid it is that men think women don’t enjoy sex just as much as they do, I still would love to see a female comic other than Sarah Silverman just talk about something other than sex.

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The biggest issue I had with the special was the beginning: when Amy talked about her body. She called herself fat so many times, and in so many different ways, that I was genuinely wondering if this was the same person who cried when speaking about her body image issues in a video I saw just earlier this week. I don’t know if she realizes that when she (who isn’t fat at all, by the way) calls herself a “tub of lard”, women who look like her, or are bigger than her, will feel bad about themselves. The whole bit felt like a defense mechanism.

And lastly, when Amy was describing how she tried binging and purging to lose weight for her movie, she lost me entirely. I have a sense of humor and know she was joking, but I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for years and it’s truly a disease and not funny at all, and especially not something a woman should make light of. The punch line, that her body told her “no bitch, we keep food in”, wasn’t even funny and didn’t get much of a laugh. I have actually heard jokes about bulimia that have made me laugh, like when Lena Dunham called herself “the laziest bulimic in the world”, but Amy’s definitely didn’t land.

I am not giving up on Amy Schumer yet, primarily because the way she delivers such witty and perceptive social commentary on her show gives me faith in her comical genius. I just hope that fame hasn’t made her lose her creative edge.

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