Amy Schumer Killed It on “SNL.” Why Didn’t Anyone Care?

The 48th season of Saturday Night Live got off to a great start in its first five episodes, caught – sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes interesting – between giving established cast members a stronger performance and trying to usher in a new era of the show. So perhaps it’s fitting that the best episode of the season so far was hosted by someone with an abundance of SNL and a sketch-comedy experience that nevertheless hadn’t hosted in more than four years: Amy Schumer, promoting the streaming return of her series Inside Amy Schumer – which has been absent from the airwaves even longer, since the spring of 2016.

Schumer’s program was not one of those blue moons SNL effect, where almost every sketch works and a couple become David Pumpkins-level classics. But it was strong in fundamentals: Weekend Update didn’t churn out sketches by dragging on too long; the sketches themselves were tight, concise and plentiful without resorting to old recurring characters or even too many unfamiliar formats (game shows and talk shows were mercifully absent). Instead, there was a good balance between the repetitive and silly bits: a woman played by Schumer worries about whether she can start eating her lunch while her friend tells a silly story; three jurors disrupt a trial with their strange endeavors; a trio of notoriously unapproachable women offer testimonials for “big dumb hats”.

Many of the sketches also had Schumer’s imprint, though the special writing credits which circulated through the SNL online fandom (yes, it exists!) said she didn’t write any of them. Outside of veterans such as John Mulaney, hosts usually do not write sketches for the show, but may have a hand in selecting them; whether Schumer was simply on the writers’ wavelength or changing them through her performance style, much of the episode felt like she was aware of it. The fake ad for period-safe underwear, where Schumer’s character realizes with horror that her menstruation is attracting animals, could have easily been the answer. Inside Amy Schumer, with the ever-growing index of women’s lifestyle secrets. So, too, could a simple table-side sketch where a woman (Schumer) reveals that she has finally convinced her husband (Andrew Dismukes) to enter therapy (and make other life changes) with the branding “Big Penis Therapy.” Even a very simple sketch about football made an innocent little conversation between trash talk and harassment on the political side without a voice.

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It’s disappointing, then, if not particularly surprising, that the live audience, internet fandom and cultural reactions to the program were very quiet, and in some cases (hint: the internet ones) actively hostile. Some of this is a byproduct of a natural inability for comedy fans to get on the same page, and some of it is just regular, ongoing disappointment SNL it is not more advanced, modern and / or experimental, things that it is not generally by design, mixed with some more interesting reviews about the show.

But what’s surprising about this latest episode is that Schumer’s presence seemed to be treated as neutral at best, eye-roller or distraction at worst, depending on the background. general cultural support against it. Back in 2015, when she first appeared on it SNL, Inside Amy Schumer was an entertaining sketch comedy series, A train wreck It was a recent hit of $100 million, and if anything, there was suspicion that SNL justice could do its work. In 2022, her career is more diverse than ever; In the past year, she has produced the Hulu personal drama series Life & Beth; co-host of the Oscars; with a great performance in the strange and little-seen Broadway adaptation The People; and she brought back her sketch series, which is set to finish an abbreviated season of five episodes. And none of this stuff was received with much fanfare.

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The new sections of Inside Amy Schumer help include both how the culture around Schumer has shifted and how she’s tried to keep up, with admittedly mixed results. Some of his segments feel like they want to capture understandable political anger about habitat invasion, abortion and transgender rights without always having a big laugh – while ‘ as the new micro-narratives of the show sometimes feel just as urgent to explain how accurate the intention is in these sketches. . (On the latest episode, there’s actually one that the writers lead with “Before you go to Twitter…” before explaining that there’s a sketch that’s obviously poking fun at rich people with ambitions wake attack, of course, mocking rich people with aspirations towards. wake up.)

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Other sketches, however, are as sharp and savage as ever, casting Schumer in parts as a visitor to a sleep clinic who (like everyone else there) reject simple advice regarding screen time in bed; a woman who can’t stop letting out an “aww” at every gay couple she sees; and part of a group of friends who can’t stop praising the gratitude they say. Schumer has moved away from the Sarah Silverman-style shock laughs she used to aim for in her stand-up, and more towards a Larry David-style dissection of social justice issues, aided by correspondents between – diverse It’s not a cultural crime that the show’s best sketches aren’t widely circulated on social media (and Paramount + not putting many of them on YouTube doesn’t help), but if there’s a hunger for sketch-comedy reporting – and the weekly spotlight SNL getting tips that – it’s a little weird that Inside Amy Schumer has become one fan-only proposition, another slab for the company’s streaming record.

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Schumer has eclectic and famous peers in the realm of stuff that seemed pretty much everyone in 2015 and 2016, only to be shorthand for cringeworthiness in certain corners: Think of it as Star Wars: The Force Awakens has gone from a delightful series revival to soulless Disneyfied nostalgic crap, or so is a Broadway musical Hamilton it went from a triumphant and electrifying reinvention of the form to a corny propaganda, not left-wing enough for the status quo. This is not a lament that a small part of the culture has destroyed one of the greatest films of all time, a Pulitzer-winning Broadway smash, or a rich and successful comedian; indeed, it is healthy to re-evaluate pop-culture philosophy, especially a work that is almost immediate. But there is an element of post-2016 despair, perhaps even self-betrayal, in these flashbacks – anger at an imagined audience that thought a Jedi girl, a female comic or giving into scenes with rap as sufficient protection against racism, fascism, and so on. Imposing moral standards on fictional characters has the flip side, with a similar result: A sense that by liking the right movies and shows, there is some way to do politics. In other words, it’s a little performance – situation Inside Amy Schumer never understood, and satire is more effective without all explanation. Maybe that’s her fault SNL the episode was so much fun: That show is an old hand at not explaining itself, and dismissing the fact that it’s sometimes silly. In 2015, many fans wondered if Schumer was too cool for him SNL. In 2022, for better and for worse, she’s uncool enough to be perfectly acceptable.


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