Emergency Contact Feels Like Amy Schumer’s Gift to Her Core Millennial Audience

Comedy Reviews Amy Schumer
Emergency Contact Feels Like Amy Schumer’s Gift to Her Core Millennial Audience

Amy Schumer’s relaxed, often self-deprecating style of comedy fits perfectly with the tired millennial generation. There is a demographic of people who truly appreciate jokes about not looking cute when blacking out after two bottles of Merlot. Despite that, legions of agitated, self-proclaimed comedy moderators storm the online spaces trying to prove how unfunny she supposedly is. As entertaining as Emergency Contact can be, it seems unlikely that Schumer’s third special under Netflix’s umbrella will turn those harsh critics into fans.

Schumer’s previous fully autonomous Netflix set Growing was a career high for the New York native. A hilarious yet heartfelt tale, which included empowering stories about pregnancy and her husband’s autism diagnosis, served as a perfect special for those who might have been on the fence with Schumer’s comedy. Emergency Contact, however, feels like a pop singer’s seventh album. It’s entertaining and well crafted, though at this stage, you can be almost certain that it’s mostly dedicated fans that are watching.

And don’t get me wrong – that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Right from the start, the special welcomes us with the all-familiar Schumer tricks: relatable jokes about aging, letting go of one’s crazy teenage drinking habits, or a few recycled tactics, such as explaining to the younger generation what life was like when we could still feel hot and invincible. 

Schumer is like our dirtbag friend who cuts to the chase when we’re trying to beat around the bush. That friend who makes everyone laugh at a bar. She is great at making you at peace with the everyday punches of reality. You’re not going to have a wild 69 session with your long-term partner. You’ll get takeout and fall asleep instead, insisting on doing it tomorrow. You’re not going to get drunk this weekend. You will have two beers and play Wordle while scratching your legs. The party is over. We’re old and tired. We’re done here. Taxi!

This isn’t one of those specials where you hear a dynamic story at the beginning, and then, like in a country song, find out that everything you heard afterwards is somehow connected to that story. It’s not a display of wordplay or nuanced punchlines. It’s a stream-of-consciousness vibe. Schumer’s facial expressions are a big part of her comedy. There aren’t many comics on the scene right now who could describe what it feels like to receive one of those rude compliments from a stranger at a doctor’s office. And that, regardless of what gym bros say on the internet, is Schumer’s power.

An anecdote about a dinner party at a blind rich man’s house is Emergency Contact’s strongest bit. It’s proof that there is a way to joke about self-perception and identity without crossing the line into dark humor. That said, her commentary about the lack of woman-focused medical research, no matter how important, has been tackled by Schumer’s contemporaries much better, and with a lot more room for laughter and interpretation.

Unfortunately, the special doesn’t quite have that peak moment, that climax, something to make it a real special. A reference to a titular emergency contact is brief and could have been explored more. There are no visual perks, such as her husband’s Trump-like portrait of Schumer on a handmade plate, which she shared during her Growing set. The show’s runtime, which is just under 50 minutes, makes it a casual set that keeps the core audience happy between big projects. 

Schumer’s Emergency Contact provides more insight into topics she spoke about in her previous show Growing, at the same time engaging with themes that her hardcore fans can recognize from her early days. One could argue that references to insomnia and inability to turn a smartphone completely off are new joke ideas for Schumer, but the intent and spirit of these jokes are not any different to Schumer’s usual repertoire. At one moment, she even points out that during a medical emergency at one of her gigs, no one from the show’s audience was qualified or sober enough to help. The New York comic seems perfectly aware of her demographic. And it doesn’t seem like she’s trying to make herself attractive to a new one. 

Despite its highs, which can be appreciated mostly by Amy Schumer’s hardcore fans, Emergency Contact is a laidback set. It doesn’t have an agenda; it doesn’t try to attract you or project an expansive vision. It’s a short and sweet comedy show to put on if you liked the previous one. But if you’re tuning in expecting Schumer’s magnum opus, you might be disappointed. Might as well cry yourself to sleep with a bottle of Merlot or a bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos, just to wake up on the sofa the next day.

Tomasz Lesniara is a freelance writer based in Scotland, originally from Poland. His work has been published by VICE, Al Jazeera, iNews, Metro and more. You can follow him on Twitter @lesniara_t to see him obsess over the music of Lana Del Rey and Britney Spears’ dance skills.

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