Amy Schumer is pulling off something of a magic trick. She’s managed to create a show that has a female point of view, but is not just about women. The sketches make incisive observations, but never have a “message.” Schumer’s material can be incredibly profane, but never in a way that feels provocative or gratuitous.
Instead, Inside Amy Schumer showcases a comedian at the top of her game, seasoned enough to have a voice, but still hungry with ambition to get all of the details right. The Season 2 premiere showcases Schumer and her writing team at their best. Every sketch is a winner from concept to execution, to the point that other comedy writers must get frustrated at how easy they’re making it look.
It’d probably be scary to know how much truth is behind the opening sketch, about a network focus group of men being asked to evaluate Inside Amy Schumer that results solely in opinions on Schumer’s body and whether or not they’d bang her. (Yes, but only if nobody found out about it.) One seemingly enlightened participant notes that he appreciates how the show has a feminist bent on a male-skewing network. Though, he’d like it better if she had “like, a 10 percent better dumper?” Behind the two-way mirror, Schumer seems horrified by the idea that she’s seeking the approval of a group of viewers who dive like animals for their payment of beef sticks and energy drinks. Then again, they did say they’d bang her, and a compliment is a compliment, right?
It says something for Schumer’s rising star power that she not only was able to attract big-name guest actors for this new season, but also that she never gets overshadowed by them. In a stand-out sketch for the series, Amy finds out she may have herpes and prays for help from God, who arrives in her apartment in the form of a bespectacled, white cable knit sweater-wearing Paul Giamatti. He offers her a variety of trade-offs to no longer have herpes: stop drinking (“Pass”), stop using hairspray, call your mother more. But Schumer would rather have him kill off an entire village in Kazakhstan or even just keep herpes rather than make any sacrifice herself. (She does offer to blow God, only to find out he’s gay.) She’s like the human epitome of First World Problems, a sentiment God shares when he laments that he needs to stop making so many white girls and tells Schumer, “You’re the fucking worst.”
Michael Ian Black swoops in for a hilarious performance as Martin Daniels, Interracial Wedding Photographer, whose increasingly racist ad promises he can even out different skin tones, “from the pastiest whites to the darkiest darks.” Black’s high-energy salesman shtick is a perfect match for the smart, fast-paced writing that sings with details like “separate but equal light meters” and having Daniels literally say “Click!” every time he presses the shutter.
Schumer again plays up the ways women are celebrated (by both men and women) for sexiness over skill in a sketch mocking Anna Kournikova-type tennis players who become celebrities despite their lack of ability to, you know, win at tennis. Amy Schumerenka doesn’t score one point in her match against the stocky, sweaty, four-time Grand Slam winner Bridgett Everett, but she’s got a thin body, big breasts and a cameo from Questlove in her corner. It’s always intriguing when Schumer plays this type of high-status character, since you get the sense she’s had as many days where she’s felt like the Everett in the room. It’s all part of the charm that makes her so damn good at this.
The final sketch, while still strong, is probably the softest of the episode, with Schumer playing a ‘70s-era secretary told by her boss to keep anyone from coming in his office. As each arriving male visitor ignores her pleas of “You can’t go in there!” her boss reacts only by criticizing Schumer’s delivery of the line and never the rudeness of his clients. She finally gets aggressive and violently prevents the next visitor from going in, only to discover her boss was expecting him. It’s a decent way to lampoon Mad Men-esque sexism and a funny character for Schumer, but probably had the fewest LOLs for me of the night.
Still, a powerhouse episode out of the gate for season two, boosted by precisely-placed star power, confident material and the subtle nuances of Schumer’s performances. Her delivery of throwaway lines (“Shrimp you’ve been prawn…”) can prompt some of the show’s biggest laughs, and she uses well-timed facial expressions to be just as funny when she’s not talking. And hey, if you ask me, she’s got a pretty nice dumper, too.