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Inside Amy Schumer: Seasons One & Two
The kewpie-doll Chappelle
Loves: Sketch comedy
Likes: Amy Schumer, dark comedy
Dislikes: Gender politics
Hates: The twisted interpersonal relationships between women
It's amazing when you hear people say that women aren't funny. Just off the top of my head, I can come up with a list of hilarious women: Tina Fey, Maria Bamford, Emily Heller, Kate McKinnon, Lauren Lapkus, Jen Kirkman, Amy Poehler, Alison Brie, Michelle Butera, Gillian Jacobs...I could go on for a very long time. Admittedly, there are a ton of really unfunny women out there (take a peek at NickMom sometime if you ever want to watch comedy die in front of your eyes) but there are a ton of really unfunny guys out there as well. The whole phenomenon tends to stem from when female comics segregate themselves to the female comedy ghetto and only talk about women-focused topics, which lets audiences check out if they don't buy in. That doesn't make them unfunny. That just makes them hacks.
Amy Schumer is a frequently hilarious comic who, unlike many of her fellow females, works on the bluer end of the spectrum, delivering jokes that are as dark and raunchy as any male comedian, touching on topics like rape and abortion, and making her own sexual proclivities a focus of her act. She is not delicate flower, and the sketch show she's created for Comedy Central, Inside Amy Schumer is a reflection of that, adapting the format that Dave Chappelle rode to superstardom in his series (pre-taped sketches wrapped around studio material) to her style. The results are often fantastic, with universal (and filthy) laughs from the assortment of sketches, which are tied together with new stand-up by Schumer and on-the-street interviews she conducts.
A mix of quick-hit ideas, parodies and longer story-based scenes, the series is at its best when it plays with stereotypes of female behavior or off Schumer's self-absorbed persona, but it can and does find laughs everywhere. So a bit about the host looking to help male viewers with their four-hour erection is followed by a sketch about overly-personal hotel staff, before exploring bad relationships. With no real recurring characters or scenarios, you never know where a show is going to go, as you can get anything from a scene about sleeping with a magician, a sketch about what it's like for a couple to pick out something to watch on on-demand, or a brilliant parody of The Doctorsthat will be painfully funny to anyone who's recently been in professional contact with a nurse. Some of the longer bits tend to drag on, like a bit about an overbearing bridesmaid, but they are balanced out by the more efficient moments.
While the first season is very funny, with a number of highlights, including a hilariously smart sketch with Arden Myrin about the early days of porn, some dark bits about series writer Tig Notaro's cancer and an outstanding segment on a character's unusual reaction to fear (which is so simple and cheap in its premise that you'll hate that you're laughing so much), the second season sees the show, hit its stride, with a host of great ideas, including a snack food called "Finger Blasters", a terrific fast-food parody of The Newsroom (with Josh Charles) and a ridiculous segment with Schumer giving voice to an animated meerkat. The show is at its best though when it's making fun of the genders, like an amazingly dense sketch about a deadly bachelorette party, a bit about guys' interest in tomboys and a few segments on how women in groups tend to be self-deprecating. If a guy was behind some of these jokes, they wouldn't be able to get away with them, but as they say about stereotypes, there's normally some basis in truth. With Schumer, it's pretty much all truth, no matter who the target is.
The series called on a number of recognizable guest stars in the first season, including Michael Ian Black, Dave Attell, Michael Showalter, Abby Elliott and a host of stand-up comics, though Jon Glaser gets the title of MVP for his part in the ridiculous parody of Hooters, where bottom-heavy singlets are the special of the day. In the second season, however, the show upped the ante, piling on the guest stars, with Zach Braff, Rachel Dratch, Chrissy Teigen, Parker Posey, Scott Adsit, Janeane Garofalo, Todd Barry, Colin Quinn and Reggie Watts on hand, along with Paul Giamatti playing the role he was born to play. Despite all the big names, they all integrate nicely with the show, and never feel like stunt casting (even with Teigen, who plays herself.)
One of the more unique elements of the series is the "Amy Goes Deep" interview in each episode, where Schumer sits down with a different interesting person. These aren't flat-out funny (more like humorous), but they are very enjoyable, as she talks to a variety of people, including a stripper, a plastic surgeon, a guy with a large penis, an 106-year-old woman, a ballerina, a flight attendant and a porn producer. One gets the feeling that there was an attempt in the second season to up the comedy factor, as her "Amy Goes Deep" interviews become very stand-up-centric, with chats with several comics, like Keith Robinson, Jim Norton, Robert Kelly and Jim Florentino, but between Schumer's humor and the subjects' stories, the goose wasn't necessary.
Packaged in a standard-width keepcase with a dual-hubbed tray, this three-DVD set splits 20 episodes across the collection. The discs have animated, anamorphic widescreen menus, with options to play all the episodes, select shows, adjust the language and check out the extras. There are no audio options but English SDH subtitles are included.
These anamorphic widescreen transfers look excellent, capturing the show's variety of looks without issue. Rich, saturated colors (where appropriate) join with a high level of fine detail and sufficiently deep black levels to make for a great viewing experience. Compression artifacts are not a concern.
Surprisingly, for a recent series, this show only gets Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. It's not a massive problem, as the show still sounds good in this simple, center-balanced presentation, but it just feels a bit basic. Dialogue is easily understood though, and enjoys good separation from the strong music and clear sound effects.
A decent spread of extras are included with this set, starting with two full stand-up performances by Schumer (24:17 and 23:23), from which the stand-up segments in the show were taken. Schumer's in solid form here, and though you'll have heard many of the bigger jokes after watching the episodes, there's still some new stuff, plus you get to hear them in the context of a single performance.
Two deleted scenes are included, "Brother" (4:04) and "Dance Audition" (2:39). Though these scenes were cut for good reason, they are worth a look, particularly for Schumer's dancing in the second piece.
The extras wrap up with five episodes of the Behind Amy Schumer web series, which documents the making of the show. Running a combined 22:03, they cover the usual production topics, including a look at the writers room and the shooting, as well as Schumer's warm-up gigs in Las Vegas, the filming of her stand-up performance and a slight hint of the challenges that face her as a female comic. The only issue is the structure of the episodes, which include a "next" segment, which means if you watch them in a row (which you will), there's a great deal of repetition.
Also included is an Ultraviolet code for the first two seasons.
The Bottom Line
Schumer can be a bit aggressive in her stand-up, and her sketch comedy doesn't hold back either, but working with an all-star team her sense of humor has translated into a tremendously funny show that's loaded with big laughs and refreshingly light on potholes. The discs look and sound great and have a solid amount of bonus material, making them a must for anyone who enjoys her style of comedy.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.