The Fourth Season of ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ Shows the Highs and Lows of Sketch Comedy

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Amy Schumer probably generates more thinkpieces than any other comedian, even including Lena Dunham or Tina Fey. No matter what the comedian does, she seems to be on the verge of generating another form of controversy, sometimes real and other times imagined. Whatever it is that she’s doing to generate outrage hasn’t diminished her professional success, which reached new heights last year with the release of her own movie Trainwreck. Even though Schumer has conquered the cinema and inspired thousands upon thousands of words in digital ink, she has continued to write, perform, and direct her own sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, which first brought her to the forefront of the public consciousness. At its best, Inside Amy Schumer is able to present thoughtful commentary on gender issues through seriously funny sketches – last year’s “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” will remain a masterpiece. At its worst, Inside Amy Schumer is as inconsistent as most sketch shows, still sneaking in a quality sketch or two surrounded by ones that don’t land.

In the Season Four premiere, “The World’s Most Interesting Woman in the World,” Schumer crafts a handful of excellent sketches between a number that run a little too long and come across as slightly flat. Among the premiere sketches in the episode are one in which Schumer attempts to have a Pap smear only to be questioned in the doctor’s office by an all-male committee on women’s health from the House of Representatives. It’s brisk in its execution and sharp in political satire. The other sketch that hits all of its intended marks is an ad for the yogurt brand Yo-Puss, which strips women’s vaginas of any and all scent. With a helpful assist from Rachel Dratch, the sketch mocks the advertising employed by feminine hygiene products and their abilities to prey upon the insecurities of some women while employing the glossy sheen of a yogurt advertisement.

However, those two sketches remain the lone highlights to the season premiere. The recurring gag throughout the first episode of the season is Schumer as a variation on Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World, a character that has become so tired in advertising its company has retired him this year. Of course, part of it unfortunate timing, but even if this gag had come along a year ago it have been woefully out of date – it’s just a tired character and parodying it doesn’t feel fresh in the least. Schumer does give her parody an edge of commentary, but it fails to work because the sketch just isn’t funny.

Among the sketches that are somewhat inspired but just don’t elicit the laugh they intend are one of a SportsCenter-like show about couples trying to get out of having sex. Simply, it just carries on for a bit too long and doesn’t really have the bite it aims for. Obviously meant to be a centerpiece for the episode, a sketch involving Schumer creating her own Hamilton-like musical featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda also falls flat, mainly due to it running long past its point of relevancy. In the sketch Schumer has created a musical about Betsy Ross that just lifts its structure from Hamilton. Miranda sits there bored, looking at his phone monitoring his incoming Uber and giving us updates. It’s enough to make you want the Uber to arrive ahead of schedule and put an end to the sketch.

Fear not, fans of Inside Amy Schumer. A so-so episode is common problem in all sketch comedy. Even great shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Key & Peele, or The Kids in the Hall have had wobbly episodes. For the second episode, “Brave,” Schumer finds a much more consistent roster of sketches. Opening with an awards show, Steve Buscemi presents the category of Best Actress. A roster of A-list actresses appear in clips from movies where emotional women are on the phone with their men, an obvious parody of Sienna Miller’s woefully underwritten role in American Sniper. Jennifer Hudson, Julianne Moore, Laura Linney, and Maggie Gyllenhaal all weep on the phone, demanding that their man come back. In its introductory sketch, this episode is starting on more assured footing than its predecessor, and it continues to excel throughout.

From there, the episode takes us to a mock music video, Schumer lip syncing to some saccharine pop number about a young woman who acts like a man to impress her boyfriend. It’s amusing in how it starts out in this cutesy kind of way before taking a turn towards the more bizarre and disgusting. The best sketch in “Brave” has Schumer joined by Claudia O’Doherty, who provides Schumer with a variation of Google Glass that allows a woman to know just how men expect them to talk to them. Based on the information provided by the goggles, Schumer is able to be taken seriously by her male coworkers, pandering to each individual as necessary. This all culminates in a punchline that is best left unspoiled, but is probably the sharpest commentary and biggest laugh of the fourth season’s first two episodes.

As with practically every episode of Inside Amy Schumer, these new episodes feature Schumer interviewing various comedians and other random people. In the first episode, Schumer interviews the woman who performs her waxing. It’s a mildly entertaining segment. However, in the second episode, Schumer interviews a woman with Down syndrome, and this finds Schumer’s one-on-one moments working at its best. In the brief interview, Schumer and her subject are able to garner laughs through their conversation as well as educate as to the nature of Down’s.

As with practically every episode of Inside Amy Schumer, these new episodes feature Schumer interviewing various comedians and other random people. In the first episode, Schumer interviews the woman who performs her waxing. It’s a mildly entertaining segment. However, in the second episode, Schumer interviews a woman with Down syndrome, and this finds Schumer’s one-on-one moments working at its best. In the brief interview, Schumer and her subject are able to garner laughs through their conversation as well as educate as to the nature of Down’s.

It doesn’t always work, but Inside Amy Schumer remains a strong sketch comedy show. Amy Schumer is an intelligent comedian willing to take great risks, which sometimes results in sketches that are more focused on social commentary than laughs. But when it works, Inside Amy Schumer can be hilarious and informative, presenting an absurdist mirror to cultural issues. Even in weaker episodes, there are the glimpses of brilliance that make Inside Amy Schumer mandatory viewing for any self-respecting comedy nerds. Because when it’s brilliant, there’s nothing like Inside Amy Schumer.

Inside Amy Schumer
  • Inside Amy Schumer
3.5

Summary

When the sketches work, which is more often than not, Inside Amy Schumer is hilarious and full of sharp social commentary.

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