Amy Schumer’s New Netflix Special Is Too Tame for the Backlash She’s Worried About

Burning bridges? Schumer’s jokes are more comfortable than controversial
Amy Schumer’s New Netflix Special Is Too Tame for the Backlash She’s Worried About

Amy Schumer is braced for some blowback about Emergency Contact, her new Netflix stand-up special that drops today. “I’m talking smack. I’m burning bridges,” Schumer told Today. “I’m like, how are people going to react to this one? I didn’t hold back.” 

But something tells me Schumer has nothing to worry about. It’s not that she doesn’t “go there” — it’s just unlikely that any of the jokes are going to inflict the damage she’s worried about.

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When I initially heard the “talking smack” remark, I honestly couldn’t remember what Schumer had said in Emergency Contact that would inspire any kind of retribution. Then she made it clear to Hoda Kotb — there’s a point in the special where she laments the poor state of health care for women in America, especially compared to men. While pregnant, Schumer suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe type of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. After her diagnosis, Schumer asked what could be done about it. “We haven’t been able to study it,” her doctor says, “because it only happens to women.”

Schumer does briefly put the health-care profession on blast, noting that science ignores many conditions that affect women but still has time to develop chewable Viagra. Fair point. Funny enough punchline. But is it controversial to say that health care should do better by women? It’s hard to imagine Schumer has burned any bridges with the medical establishment by pointing this out. Our reaction is less “Oh my gosh!” and more “Of course.”

Schumer is at a tricky point in her comedy career. Early routines about her sex life might have come across as risque or shocking, but now those jokes just seem on-brand. Her delivery is still great; the material is solid. But like Jim Gaffigan or Jerry Seinfeld, other long-time stand-ups with well-established comic personas, she’s lost the element of surprise. 

Most of the new jokes hold up just fine. There’s a funny hunk of the show devoted to marriage, defined as “finding someone who can stand you.” There’s something about sex after wedlock that loses some of its excitement because now you’re doing it with a family member. Sex with a husband? “You’re my emergency contact, for Christ’s sake. It’s disgusting,” she jokes. (We’re not ruining the punchline here — it’s a joke she’s told on both SNL and Jimmy Kimmel.)

That leads into an inspired bit about Hilaria Baldwin, Alec’s Spanish wife by way of Boston. Here, Schumer is indeed talking smack, but the Baldwins deserve it and she knows it. Schumer’s not doing a really racist Spanish impression, she’s doing a very mean Hilaria impression! Hey, if you can’t bully a sociopath, who can you bully?

Emergency Contact is a solid effort from Schumer, one that should satisfy her fans without necessarily winning over new ones. I think this one, I’m going to get a lot of backlash,” she told Today. But the jokes are more comfortable than controversial. We’re guessing Schumer can rest easy. 

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