My face when people say that Amy Schumer steals jokes
To say that I’ve become an admirer of Amy Schumer over the last 12 months would be an understatement. I went from a skeptic to a fan to a pseudo-stalker. I will neither confirm nor deny that I have a Google Alert set up for the name Amy Schumer.
Getting daily updates of published works regarding a newly famous female has been eye-opening. There are as many articles praising “The X Best Amy Schumer Moments of 2015” (here, here, and here) as there are denying her humor with headlines like “Unfunny J.Law and Amy Schumer should never host the Golden Globes”.
This week my inbox lit up with articles analyzing the accusation that Amy Schumer has been stealing material from other comics. One resourceful individual even went as far as compiling a video of her “egregious offenses” (the video has since been removed). Schumer immediately tweeted that she does not steal jokes and joined her good friend Jim Norton on his podcast to combat the claims. Schumer even offered to take a polygraph test on season 4 of her Emmy-winning show, Inside Amy Schumer.
Let’s get one thing clear here: the jokes in question are so small, general, and minimal that this should be a non-issue. If you have seen Amy Schumer’s interviews and performances, you know that she has hours and hours of hilarious material with no shortage of topics.
If you look at the specifics of the jokes in question, the claims seem weak at best. Implying that someone dresses her husband in such a way that other women won’t want to sleep with him is nothing groundbreaking. Also common is the idea of paying someone to come and make you exercise while you’re sleeping. And finally, to think that Schumer stole the concept of her Trainwreck poster from a promo for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is just silly.
Oh and by the way, sex acts like the Houdini and the Abe Lincoln are well-known. The concept of outrageous sex acts are funny (duh) and it’s possible that more than one person has used them as the premise of a joke.
On the podcast, Schumer calmly addresses each joke individually. To me, Schumer’s earnest response and genuine concern over these claims shows her innocence but the reactions to her reaction have been uneven. A scathing article I read this morning prompted me to write this. Shane Ryan of Paste Magazine writes,
This morning, she appeared on Jim Norton’s SiriusXM radio show... which finds Schumer in frantic damage control mode... [Amy’s] character assassination here is almost Trump-like, both for the personal attacks and the way it dodges the real issue—the smoking gun evidence. Her broadside against Pescatelli is delivered in kinder tones, but the intent is just as aggressive. And not surprisingly, she segues from there to the idea that the attacks are also gender-based—even though they came from other female comics—and that “people just want to bring women down.”
Apparently a prominent woman defending herself and her integrity is now considered “aggressive.” Ryan overlooks some substantial points made by Schumer, like the fact that it’s not possible for her to have seen every stand-up special ever recorded. She also mentions that the timing of this seems intentional. Her HBO special came out in October but now that she’s seen even more success and praise (like winning a Golden Globe) she is being questioned by men and women alike.
I can’t help but wonder if a man would experience the same attack on his character for similar accusations. OH wait! I don’t have to wonder because this happened late last year with Trevor Noah. He was accused of stealing a bit from Dave Chappelle about racism, claims that quickly fizzled out. I also picked up on some similarities between a bit in John Mulaney’s New in Town and Artie Lange’s latest project. Each comic compares the term “midget” to the “n-word” in similar fashion. BUT WHO WROTE IT FIRST?! Guess what! No one cares.
Comics come up with broad comedic premises all the time (another thing Schumer addresses in the podcast). Let’s stop trying to dim a bright spot for the female voice in Hollywood and leave Amy Schumer to do what she does best: be funny.
You can listen to Jim Norton’s podcast here.