Amy Schumer’s popularity is undeniable. Since appearing on Last Comic Standing in 2007, she’s released a hit TV series, movie, HBO special and book. So at this point in her career, her name alone carries gravitas. Spend a night with Schumer and no matter what happens, it’s bound to be memorable.
But with Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, that experience feels more tired than anything else. With her trademark candor, Schumer regales viewers with, among other things, her pussy’s smell, a horrific stomach flu she caught in Paris, and the three B’s: blackouts, body issues and Bradley Cooper. Her previous work used such shock jock material to generate shared intimacy and identification with her audience, which explains why she rose to fame so quickly. Great comedy makes us feel a little less alone. She succeeded by speaking so starkly about experiences mired in social taboo.
Schumer comes close to hitting the mark throughout her new special, but because she evades making stronger connections between her disparate points, the entire thing feels discombobulated. In one bit, she admits how her pussy smells like a small barnyard animal on its best day. “Like a goat,” she clarifies, lest the audience should get the image of a hissing, spitting llama in its collective mind. It’s a sharp moment pinpointing an ongoing concern for many women, but Schumer builds that golden nugget into a poorly constructed ending, and fails to complete her point. There’s a rambling quality about the entire affair, as if she’s resting more on her name than her writing, and so feels confident her fans will enjoy whatever she presents them. It’s hard to get on board when the potential is there for so much more.
Near the end, Schumer shifts away from explicitly physical topics to the issue of gun control. She has tackled the topic on Inside Amy Schumer before, and with Amy Schumer: The Leather Special she edges closer to making a powerful point. But she’s still too close to the experience to find comic relief. She does, however, land one important assertion as she segues from discussing cumming on tits to gun control: She has every right to do both. Talking about one does not underscore her investment in the other.
With Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, all the building blocks are there for great comedy, but they never entirely coalesce. That her latest material doesn’t quite live up to the bar she’s established for herself on TV and film doesn’t seem likely to impact her popularity, but it serves as a warning that she won’t always be able to rest on celebrity alone. After all, what’s in a name?
Amy Schumer: The Leather Special will be available on Netflix on March 7.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance journalist specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.