It has been a while since Amy Schumer presented some comedy that wasn’t just her oversharing her life. Emergency Contact does not break that pattern. Honestly, it is not unusual for comedians or even celebrities to talk excessively about their personal lives in the hopes of getting a laugh with their relatability or exaggeration. But we cannot accept that this is taken for granted. Amy Schumer looked like she just wanted to get done with it and barely had any interest in standing on the stage. It takes her a long time to hit a genuinely funny note in the stand-up special, and by that, we mean that it only happens in the last 10 minutes. Why does it feel like Amy Schumer has given up? There are serious pitfalls in the comedy business, one of which is that a lot of people will dislike you. But the advantage is that it doesn’t stop them from seeking you out in the hopes of a good laugh. Unless a comedian continues to focus on the latter aspect of things, their art becomes impossible for them.
Amy Schumer tries very hard, as she always has. Effortlessness has never been her strong suit, and yet, this is something we have only come to appreciate in recent times. Sadly, the bias against Amy is so strong that we are failing to apply this lesson to her. But Amy knows how to work with that. Some of her more insightful ventures, like “I Feel Pretty” and “Life and Beth,” have shown how vulnerability can be a great strength. But we have thoughts about that vulnerability turning into constant self-deprecating humor. We remember Hannah Gadsby’s golden words from Nanette at this point, where she explains why self-deprecation is often not limited to oneself but is about all the groups that identify with the “faults” being made fun of. Since we heard those words, we have never been able to laugh at ourselves the same way. Maybe that is why when Amy Schumer found it appropriate to make fat jokes about herself, we couldn’t help thinking how she was also making fun of all fat people, an already marginalized community, and teaching others how it is okay to laugh at fatness. We are not sure if we are being sensitive, but ever since we have started exploring the nuances of humor that rely on insulting oneself, a lot of what constitutes fun banter has started looking tasteless to us.
That fact is, no matter who Amy Schumer insulted—herself, her husband, or the people of LA—a lot of it was genuinely not funny. Comedians usually have a way of circumventing the situation when a joke of theirs doesn’t land. But that skill was sorely lacking in Amy Schumer’s Emergency Contact. If we had to give one word to her performance, we would say that she was tired. Her energy was abysmal, and she looked like she would rather be anywhere else than on stage. Additionally, doesn’t Netflix realize that we can tell when the laugh track in the background is fake? We may not be able to see the audience, but we know they have standards, and we have heard this very fake laugh hundreds of times in similarly unfunny sitcoms. It really is high time to retire that aspect of content that claims to be a comedy.
As for Amy Schumer herself, we are glad that she chose to change her son’s name while keeping her own. Upon her insistence, we googled “Amy Fisher,” and we feel that if Amy truly cared about her comedy career and was not just on autopilot, she would have taken her husband’s name purely for the comic value of it. (It’s a joke, hopefully, funnier than Emergency Contact).
The thing with comedy is (these are the words from our armchair expertise) there really is nothing new to be said. If it hasn’t been said by a comedian before, it has been said by a content creator on social media or as a tweet that went viral for a short while. All of Amy’s jokes have been heard before, and we would say that if you want to see jokes being made about the quality of intimacy between a couple that has been married for a while, nothing beats Ali Wong’s specials. Then there are the plastic surgery jokes. We get that Amy was trying to normalize the practice, but she made better jokes about the whole autism thing.
Finally, we simply cannot believe that Amy failed to make fun of men. That is literally the easiest thing to do, and we bet that even 27-year-old Libby in the audience can vouch for it. That is why it felt odd that she chose to target Hillary Baldwin instead. We are not saying that Hillary did not deserve this, but the fact remains that even with her, it was just a long story with very little payoff. As someone who has been at the writing helm of so many projects, Amy had to know that her set was not funny. We refuse to believe that she was delusional about it; she is not a man. Amy just wanted to take her check from Netflix and get on with her life.
Emergency Contact was Amy going through the motions because this was clearly not her energy. She has not always been funny, but she has always tried, and that is arguably her USP. This stand-up special of hers felt like she had given up on something, and in some corner of our hearts, we feel sad about it. A truly funny stand-up special, or even one that manages to keep you engaged if not laughing on the floor, will elicit a lot more opinions than this, but Emergency Contact fails to hit this very low benchmark. We are not going to question its substandard quality anymore, but we do hope that Amy Schumer starts trying again.