What happens when you take one of the biggest songs of the year and have some of the biggest celebrities in the world read the lyrics out loud? You get some hysterical renditions of Drake’s smash hit “Hotline Bling” performed (use that word how you please) by huge stars from Bryan Cranston to Rooney Mara just to name a few.
Inside Amy Schumer: Tuesdays 10:30pm Eastern on Comedy Central
2012 was a busy development cycle for Comedy Central as they locked up large numbers of stand-up comedians in full fledged developmental deals. It is now, in 2013 that we have started to see many of those series hit the airwaves, including Kroll Show, Nathan For You, The Jeselnik Offensive, and their newest offering Inside Amy Schumer.
Inside Amy Schumer is the eponymous comedienne’s newest project and follows a sketch comedy format much like other Comedy Central star vehicles, probably most closely hewing the Chapelle’s Show/Key and Peele mixture of stand-up in front of a studio audience and pre-taped bits. In addition to the sketch and stand-up segments, Schumer also performs a number of woman-on-the-street interviews over the course of the show.
With sketch comedy in general, I think the first and foremost question one needs to answer is: Is it funny? In my personal opinion, very much so. Schumer succeeds in carving out an incredibly seedy and neurotic alter ego for herself (unlike many other shows of this ilk, it doesn’t rely on the SNL model of recurring characters, instead focusing on slices of Amy’s life). Much of this work is set up in the premises of the show’s sketches, whether it’s Amy planning out a full life with a guy she just hooked up with the night before or being unable to identify an African-American sales clerk at a clothing store and then followed up by Schumer’s trademark raunchy style of comedy.
That being said, there were a few minor flaws I found with the show that can be easily addressed without necessarily changing the funny foundation on which the show is built. First and foremost, I found it odd that the show’s reference pool was firmly stuck in the later Bush years, devoting its opening segment to “Two Girls, One Cup” and riffing on veteran Biography Channel Series I Survived…. This seems like a weird gap in time to reference because it’s just old enough to feel dated while being just new enough that nostalgia has yet to build for it yet.
Secondly, while funny, the stand-up bits felt tacked on and gratuitous, where other similar shows monologue segments often served the purpose of setting up the show (Chapelle’s Show and Kroll Show were particularly strong at this style of introduction). Hopefully later episodes better tie the stage segments to their surrounding sketches, as Schumer’s stand-up act is fairly strong.
The Final Verdict: Inside Amy Schumer is very funny for sketch comedy and a strong enough premiere to warrant further viewing. I think a strong premiere says a lot about the potential that the series possesses, as many comedy shows often need a few episodes before becoming fully self-actualized. Minor quibbles aside, the show is a near-perfect mix of self-deprecation, cringe humor and gross out gags and looks primed to succeed in its’ post Tosh.0 time slot. If you get a chance, check it out: you won’t be disappointed.
The Jeselnik Offensive: Tuesdays at 10:30 on Comedy Central.
As a TV critic, I normally feel like it’s my job to favor quality, intelligent television over the supposed crass dregs that “drag down” the legitimacy of the medium.
That being said, I laughed at The Jeselnik Offensive way too much to hate it.
The Jeselnik Offensive, starring comedian Anthony Jeselnik, is a subversion of the late night talk show format and built around the concept of trying to offend yours (and everyone else’s sensibilities) as much as possible. It opens with a monologue where Jeselnik shoots off a number of one-liners riffing on the news stories of the day, follows up with a couple of short comedy segments before hitting the real meat of the show, his panel.
The panel is a pretty novel concept, as instead of following the traditional late night format of interviewing one guest usually a celebrity at a time, Jeselnik instead brings on both celebrities (which will usually be name comedians, this week he had on Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari) simultaneously in order to get their opinions while also trying to get under their skin.
The show shines most when Jeselnik has people to play off of, whether it’s telling jokes about cancer patients to cancer patients, riffing on an oncologist retorting “You’ve got cancer!” after asking her to soberly tells him he has cancer or working with his panel (which usually composes the last two segments of the show).
If there’s an area where the show seems a little weak, it’s in Jeselnik’s delivery, which often feels monotone and a touch robotic, often intruding upon the timing of some of the jokes. This however is a fairly minor quibble as the jokes themselves were often hilarious and sidesplitting (one in which he compared a Tibetan monk in self-immolation favorably to the dress of Food Network star Guy Fieri made me almost spit my drink at the computer).
The Final Verdict: Comedy Central has found the ideal show to pair with Tosh.0 in a frat-boy oriented comedy block. The jokes already are hitting their mark in a way that makes me believe the show has legs beyond the shock jock style humor that the show is sold on. It’s the short of show that I know as a critic I should probably loathe, but I can’t help but loving it, and if dark comedy is your sort of thing (which admittedly, as anyone whose ever dealt with me can attest, is most definitely mine), you could do a lot worse than giving this show a shot.
Next Time: I’m doing a liveblog for the Oscars similar to the one I did for the Grammys this Sunday night. The show airs on ABC this Sunday night starting at 7pm Eastern/6pm Central, so my first post will likely hit around 6:30 Eastern Time.