'Inside Amy Schumer' Hits Its Stride in the Third Season

by Jedd Beaudoin

24 November 2015

Amy Schumer has been inspiring her share of imitators, but this third season of her acclaimed Comedy Central series demonstrates exactly the things those imitators will never get right.
 
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Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3

(Comedy Central)
US DVD: 24 Nov 2015
UK DVD: Import

Inside Amy Schumer has been flirting with brilliance since the show’s inception and there have been moments of unqualified wow to this point, but the show has finally surpassed its potential with its third season. This isn’t a vehicle for Schumer’s therapy, her way of working out neurotic stuff on the screen, nor is it a way for her to high five with fellow comedians as they ham their way through superficial sketches that are little more than extensions of Schumer’s standup. (There is some gentle high “fiving”, but when it comes it’s a relief and, hell, we want to high five, too.)

What makes Schumer compelling, and what makes her numerous imitators less so, is her honesty. That’s a trait that’s easy for some to mistake her frankness for bald oversharing or simply trying to shock. There’s something about her humor that’s above either that. Although it’s often personal or observational, it’s not so rooted in the former that it doesn’t translate, or so rooted in the latter that it doesn’t fall down into a fuzzily outlined chasm of “huh”.

Her comedy is woman-centered but not to the exclusion of men; her humor skewers sexism as exuded by men but not to the exclusion of women who help perpetuate certain stereotypes and attitudes. She can laugh at herself but not at the expense of her own humanity; she can point out her flaws without her flaws having to be viewed as failings. She can explore sexuality without being exploitative; she can skewer exploitation without self-righteous rage.

The show itself features some of the best writing of any show in recent memory, starting with the season’s first episode, “Last Fuckable Day”, featuring guest appearances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey. It’s a discussion about the ageist attitudes that women must face in film and television but also about how women of a certain age are perceived as less desirable. It’s funny because, well, it would be hard to misfire with the players assembled for the sketch but also because so much of the sketch is about shattering preconceived notions about what and how women of a certain stature/age should be.

“Babies and Bustiers” is both wildly funny and gross as it examines child pageant culture and the sexualization of children as well as the infantilizing of all things feminine. It’s not match for “I’m Sorry”, however, an examination of how some women feel that they have to apologize for being assertive, intellectuals and, well, doing just about anything at all. It has a few all-too-familiar and painfully over-the-top moments (which are also, sadly, too familiar) that serve to remind us that at the end of the day that this stuff is real.

Elsewhere “80s Ladies” gives us a (sort of) defense of Bill Cosby and allows Schumer the chance to do some of that high-fiving with Nikki Glaser and Rachel Feinstein as well as some real fun America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn. Even Bill Nye gets in on the act and proves that he is, indeed, a treasure.

The real treasure of this season, however, is “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”, in which an all-male jury is assembled to determine whether Schumer is “hot enough” for a male audience. It’s a major feat of writing as the episode parodies the film 12 Angry Men and breaks from the format of the rest of the episodes. It’d be a risk if not for the stellar writing and potent acting from Jeff Goldblum (Why don’t we see more of him? And why not more comedy?), Paul Giamatti and Dennis Quaid, all of them gathered to fuss, fight and stick their noses where, frankly, they just don’t belong. It’s not just a great episode from this season or from this show, but for television in general, and worthy of further study and discussion for some time to come.

Most of the other episodes fall just a little short of reaching the heights of “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”, but some shows never get as high as that episode, so any shortcomings are easy to forgive. “Fight Like a Girl” is as funny as most episodes come, although the final two, “Wingwoman” and “Three Buttholes” have a few jokes that have run their course before the sketches they appear in have closed.

The guests that Schumer has assembled for the season are seemingly endless and in addition to those mentioned above it should be said that Bill Hader’s time on screen reminds us that his full comic range remains under appreciated.

This new DVD collection features a range of extras including outtakes from the season (some of them funnier than others), an unaired sketch and some unaired interviews for the “Amy Goes Deep” segment.

If one were interested in the future of comedy, they could start by watching this series. We’re going to see plenty of imitations for a while to come, though one hopes that many young writers and comedians will learn the most valuable lesson that can be taken from Schumer: Being yourself is often straightest line between a funny idea and one that leaves an audience laughing and thinking for some time to come.

Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3

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