As a big fan of comedy and comics, and as a woman, I always feel compelled to support any comediennes as much as possible. My preference skews more toward Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling… the very self-deprecating and witty ladies, who do more of the writing/acting and less stand up. But from having friends in the stand-up comedy biz, I know exactly how hard it is and how much confidence is needed to be successful, and that needs to be multiplied by 100 for women stand-ups.
I first saw Amy Schumer ten years ago or so, on a Comedy Central half hour special, and even at my younger, less comedy-seasoned age, I thought she was hilarious. I thought, “remember that name Amy Schumer, she’s funny.” At this time, she dressed more casually on stage than she does now, I want to say jeans and shirt with pulled back hair, and had some jokes about men and relationships, but it wasn’t the overall majority. Fast forward to now – her comedy is usually much more sex centered, and she wears cute little dresses and heels on stage. The thing that more recently has bothered me about her is that even down to how she dresses on stage now, she sometimes perpetuates this ideal that comes up for female comics, which is “a pretty woman saying things she shouldn’t be saying and making off color jokes, isn’t that crazy!”
Like, what the is that about? Why is a woman in a dress saying things about sex with guys, such a spectacle? Male stand ups do this constantly, and for them it’s totally normal. But when Sarah Silverman comes along and talks about poop and sex, HOW OUT OF THE ORDINARY AND WILD IS SHE! A woman who’s pretty and can say the word “taint” too??? This is impossible! (‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ did a perfect episode about this phenomenon called “The Gang Broke Dee,” if you aren’t familiar or grasping what I’m getting at, please check this out). Granted, this whole idea may also be part of the networks or agencies marketing for these women and their respective TV shows. And more and more, I understand how doing this is an attempt at breaking down this stereotype – I do see and appreciate that. But still, I’ve been critical. Found it funny, and laughed out loud several times watching her stand up on Comedy Central, but It’s not altogether my favorite brand.
However, I have a new respect for her after the speech she gave this week at this Gloria Awards and Gala, hosted by the Ms. Foundation for Women. I encourage any fans of women and comedy, or anyone who’s been a teenage girl trying to find their place in the world, to read it. It’s about being who you are, and it’s really inspiring. http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/read-amy-schumers-ms-gala-speech.html