After the untimely demise of Chappelle's Show, sketch comedy looked like it would never again rise to the heights achieved by Dave Chappelle and company. Though funny groups like Whitest Kids U'Know popped up periodically and delivered some strong sketches, most post-Chapelle sketch shows lacked the point of view necessary to sustain a great show in the long run. The last few years have brought us an embarrassment of sketch comedy riches. Key and Peele, Portlandia, and Inside Amy Schumer are all great shows that hit far more than they miss. On the surface, these series appear to be built for niche audiences. Key and Peele's conversation is about race, Inside Amy Schumer talks about gender, and Portlandia deals with aging out of the pop culture that once defined you. In reality, these shows use their particularly point of view to craft sketches that have universal resonance.
To say that Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer is about women's issues is reductive. The show deals with issues from a woman's point of view (Amy Schumer, is, after all, you know, a woman), but dating, sex, and the never-ending struggle to maintain your dignity amid life's endless indignities aren't issues that appeal only to females. What is special about Schumer's show is that she doesn't shy away from the fact that her sketches are going to be critiqued by some imaginary feminist measuring stick. Rather than avoid the inevitable description of "female comic," she embraces, interrogates, and subverts our ideas of feminism, while making a lot of great vomit and fart jokes along the way. If you haven't yet checked out what Schumer is up to, here's a place to start. Just in time for tomorrow night's new episode, here are the 10 best Inside Amy Schumer sketches so far.
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"My Dream Break-Up"
We often put more work into our break-ups than we do our anniversaries. In the days and even weeks leading up to the end, we meditate on how we can make our break-ups as quick and painless as possible while still looking like the good guy. Amy Schumer channels everything selfish and ridiculous about break-ups with this sketch. When her break-up coordinator says, "Have we give any thought to whether you want it to be a slow realization or a devastating blind-side?" you can't help remember those times you've been on both sides of that tricky situation. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to catch a group of women in the middle of a Say Yes to the Dress marathon, this sketch will have special resonance.
"A Girl Who Can Hang"
Maxim, Entourage, beer commercials, and the other pillars of bro culture have long fetishized the mythical girl who is "just one of the guys" or, as Schumer puts it here, "a girl who can hang." If you've ever spent an entire Sunday at a sports bar, you've heard some dude hold forth about a girl he knows who can drink him under the table, quote The Hangover at will, and eats only chicken wings. This sketch asks, in as blunt a way as possible, "Who cares?"
This has been one of Schumer's most resonant sketches. In an age when we all spend way too much time posting images of our clothes, our food, and our bodies online, we still feel the need to resort to be self-deprecating whenever someone is kind enough to pay us a compliment. God forbid we just say, "Thank you." Then we wouldn't be able to feel great about how not-so-great we feel.
Not since Chappelle's Show have we seen a sketch comedian who can be so brazen yet so nuanced at the same time. This sketch examines the distance between what a feminist wants the right to do and what they are actually comfortable with. Then, the sketch shifts gears again to remind us that respecting the male perspective is implicit in a positive feminist worldview. All of that doesn't sound very funny, but trust us, it is.
Usually, if you're hooking up with a young lady and she does something extremely weird, it's not her overactive imagination that's to blame, it's Cosmo. We all have friends who have suffered serious physical and emotional trauma thanks to Cosmo's never-ending search for things that "drive men wild." Amy, thank you for this public service.
Who doesn't love using other peoples' struggles and tragedies to get out of minor inconveniences? You may think Schumer comes off as heartless here, but as someone all too familiar with podcasts and web series, it's hard to blame her for the moves she makes.
"Lunch At O'Nutters"
Not only is this an amazing sketch, but it is also a potentially profitable business model. Warning: This sketch may leave you distracted for the rest of the day, pondering how you might perform in a "wet nut contest."
Many men have been waiting for this sketch for a long time. They've suffered through so many conversations in which their friends complain about being put in the "friend zone" or how they "just can't figure out where they stand" with a girl. Now, they can simply direct their friends to this sketch rather than having to sit them down for the "Bro, maybe she just isn't fucking interested" conversation.
Criticizing Aaron Sorkin has been one of the Internet's favorite pastimes over the past several years. Most of the people who make Sorkin their punching bag come off as repetitious at best and mean-spirited at worst. In "The Foodroom," Schumer critiques Sorkin's views on gender, class, race, and monologuing without coming off as a cyber-bully kicking an out-of-touch white man when he's down.
"A Very Realistic Military Game"
This sketch represents everything that Inside Amy Schumer does well. It tackles hot button issues—not only does the sketch skewer the casual sexism of male gamers, but it draws attention to the under-reported problem of sexual assault in the military. And it hits hard. You know from the very beginning exactly where this sketch is going, but you still have that "Oh shit, is she really going to go there?" feeling right up until the sketch delivers its final punch. And the sketch is hilarious, providing a satisfying look at the most casual and most grave aspects of sexism with one perfect premise.