Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

This season, Amy Schumer has been killing it on her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer.” With hit sketches like “Milk Milk Lemonade” and “Last F**kable Day” she is really finding her voice in the world of television, not an easy feat for a woman. And what’s more important than how she’s changing the comedic scene is how she’s changing female stereotypes as a whole.

I’m glad Amy Schumer is using her newfound prominence to shed some light on women’s issues. It’s not easy to translate a stand-up comic’s humor from stage to television. Yet Schumer is a genius in both arenas.

The first time I saw Amy Schumer onstage, about seven or so years ago, I walked into a desolate theater as she tried to connect with one of the four men who were in the audience.

“Thank God,” she said as I entered. “A woman is here. You will like me.”

“I doubt it…” I muttered under my breath. Because even I, a female comedian, had been conditioned to think that women weren’t funny.

She proved me wrong immediately that night. And she proves America wrong each week by not only being hilarious but by refusing to fit into a nicely labeled box of what a woman should be. She’s funny, hot, disgusting, self-deprecating, curvy, smart, and sexual—she’s a modern woman.

In the past couple of years, women have been experiencing a sort of renaissance in this country. Brave people have been speaking out about sexual assault, unequal pay, and other women’s issues that plague our gender. Conversations are being started which will hopefully bring along social change.

It’s hard to think that a girl who’s wearing a short vinyl skirt singing “Round the corner fudge is made” might be our best female advocate today, but it’s true. And why not? She’s gross, outspoken, and overtly sexual. Just what we need.

Last week, in the sketch “I’m Sorry,” Schumer played one of the presenters on a Females in Innovation conference. The panel never actually got anywhere because each woman was so busy apologizing for things that weren’t her fault. Though this wasn’t the funniest sketch ever, it was spot on with pinpointing how women are conditioned to apologize. Women are bred to be people pleasers and to say “sorry” if anything goes wrong, even if it’s not their fault.

As a woman, I struggle daily with this. I’m constantly trying to rewire my brain so I don’t revert to immediate remorse if someone’s unhappy with me. This, coming from the woman who apologized to a space heater just yesterday for bumping into it.

But while I’m kicking myself for this, Amy Schumer is calling out how absurd this societal norm is. And more importantly, she’s making it funny.

I hold Amy Schumer to a higher standard than I do other female comedians that I admire. Why? She’s a mess. She’s had a tough life, and she’s a little rough around the edges. She’s exactly the kind of person who will ruffle enough feathers until you can’t ignore her message.

Take Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two amazing and successful female comedians. They’ve been killing it in the public eye for more than a decade. They’ve been performing or producing some of the best comedy in the country while maintaining families. Surely, if any famous females can change gender norms it’s these two, right?

Wrong, unfortunately. They’re too likable.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the best role models any little girl could hope for. In fact, Amy Poehler’s Tumblr “Smart Girls at the Party” is like the virtual mom every girl always wanted. It’s filled with uplifting quotes, affirmations and inspirational stories that females of any age need to hear.

But, as they say, well-behaved women seldom make history. And by Fey’s own account, the female comics she knows (herself included) were never trying to challenge authority.

In her book Bossypants she said:

“Men are in comedy to break rules. Conversely, the women I know in comedy are all good daughters, good citizens, mild-mannered college graduates. Maybe we women gravitate toward comedy because it is a socially acceptable way to break rules and a release from our daily life.”

Well, Amy Schumer is out to break the rules. And people are taking notice.

I’m not saying that what Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are doing isn’t important; it is. They are gradually changing the way the world views women by being changing how women view themselves. They are cultivating an entire generation of little girls, and even adult women, who can embrace their uniqueness.

Amy Schumer isn’t in comedy to try to make friends, and she probably doesn’t care what little girls think of her. She has something to say, and she doesn’t care whom she pisses of while she’s trying to say it.

Amy Schumer deserves all the attention she’s getting and then some. Hopefully, she’ll keep yelling   loud enough so we can see some actual changes sparked from her genius.


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