Amy Schumer received a ton of favorable media attention for the most recent episode of her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer.” That’s because she devoted most of it to gun control. Unfortunately, she devoted nearly none of it to comedy.
Seriously, it was awful.
Factless Gun Control Sketch
The show began with a send-up of a QVC-type program. Schumer and a sidekick finish selling Steve Irwin commemorative coins and then offer a gun for $39.95 They fail to practice any gun safety while showing the gun and say things like, “pretty much anyone can purchase this.” They tell a caller — claiming to have committed several violent felonies — that he can purchase a gun (it’s illegal to sell to someone you even suspect of being a felon). Schumer says she’s an unlicensed seller who can sell guns no-questions-asked because she’s running a “gun show” (except that her character is selling thousands of guns, meaning she’s the very definition of a “high-volume seller” covered by federal regulations) and could also do it if she were on the internet. Nope, nope, and nope.
There are some faux-sexist, faux-anti-gay, and anti-blind lines that smell like jokes. Then a man with a Middle Eastern accent calls in and says he’s a suspected terrorist on the No-Fly List, and could he buy a gun. And since that list — which had 900,000 names on it in 2013, including Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes and various other law-abiding citizens — has precisely zero criteria as to who gets placed on it, it’s a civil liberties trainwreck that should not be used to deny the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
And then the sketch somehow gets worse. One of the hosts shoots himself in the foot while Schumer lists politicians who support the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
Are you laughing?
No, because it’s not funny. It’s also complete horse crap, but that’s not the problem. The problem is it isn’t funny.
Schumer then explains that she has turned this episode into advocacy for gun control because of the horrible event that happened last summer when a man killed two women at a screening of her movie “Trainwreck.” She admits that nobody likes when celebrities get involved in politics but says the parents of the girls asked her to speak on the issue.
Fine! Good! Absolutely! And there are probably many ways to speak on the very complicated issue of violence other than the lazy approach she took.
Lazy Anti-Twitter Sketch
The next sketch featured someone pretending to be a VP of Communications for Twitter introducing a new button for Twitter users. Right now Twitter users can click a button to indicate they like a tweet. The new button would allow them to say, “I’m going to rape and kill you.”
The reasoning, the VP explains, is that “over 120 percent of tweets directed at women refer to raping and/or killing them.”
As a Twitter user, I can attest to having received threats and being called names. All such threats and harassment are wrong, but it’s an enduring myth that women suffer more abuse on social media than men. In fact, the opposite is true. As this Pew study shows, men are more likely to be harassed online:
Overall, men are somewhat more likely than women to experience at least one of the elements of online harassment, 44% vs. 37%. In terms of specific experiences, men are more likely than women to encounter name-calling, embarrassment, and physical threats.
Sometimes, to take a random example I came across this past weekend, this abuse is done by well-respected writers from Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, and various other publications.
So yes, we need to encourage civility toward women on Twitter. Also men. And we need to stop perpetuating the false stat that women are uniquely harmed by online abuse.
Or if we’re going to perpetuate that falsehood, could we at least be funny while doing it?
A Sketch About ‘Game of Thrones’ Forgets to Be Funny
Then there was an unending and shockingly unfunny sketch about how Schumer doesn’t want to get on a horse.
Followed by, granted, a funny sketch about Liam Neeson running a mortuary. It’s called Don Cheadle’s I Don’t Bury Cowards Funeral Home. And he buries only those people who die bravely. Nicely absurd.
Going Shallow on Everytown
Each show ends with a chat. Usually Schumer talks to someone about his or her sex life. This time she talked to someone from Everytown for Gun Safety. The puffball interview has the spokeswoman saying that the biggest misconception about the group is that they’re trying to take guns away. “Why would anyone think that?” Schumer asks. Yes, after The New York Times was a Pulitzer finalist for a front-page editorial advocating gun confiscation, why in the world would anyone think that the gun control movement wants to grab guns? Oh wait.
In any case, Schumer then asks if the gun control advocate is turned off by NRA members. She says something to the effect of “most NRA members are reasonable but the leadership is crazytown.” To which Schumer responds, “crazy bat**** nuts.”
Then the gun control advocate agrees and says they’re “totally crazy — there’s this great myth that they’re untouchable and unbeatable, but they’re way too extremist for the American public.”
I mean, really. Not only has the current executive of the NRA been in that position for something like 25 years, the idea that there is a notable mismatch between the five million members and the leadership — much less that the mismatch would go in the direction described by the gun control advocate — is hi-freaking-larious.
The show ends with a number to text to get involved in gun control.
I tweeted out my dislike of the episode, for which Amy Schumer blocked me on Twitter.
Which is fine. I doubt I can endure another episode of her show as is. I never need to agree with the politics of comedians (or else I would never watch them), but I do require them to be funny. Schumer’s crime isn’t that she put forth a hackneyed call for gun control, as unfortunate as that is. It’s that she wasn’t funny. Not at all.