One of the more offensive things you can ask a female comic is: "What is it like to be a woman in comedy?"
The question itself looks innocent enough at first glance, but its subtext screams something different. What you're really asking is: How can you -- with your cumbersome vagina, milk-engorged breasts, and syrupy stream of estrogen weaving its way though your body -- how can you possibly be funny?
A woman in comedy? Such hurdles one must overcome! Right? Not really.
Yes, modern women face obstacles of all sorts. It's safe to assume that any task a woman sets out to achieve will probably be fraught with more hindrances simply because she is a woman. That's the world we live in. Women have to work harder. Anyone who's not white and male and who doesn't look like a fruit on the Romney family tree is probably going to have to work a little harder in life.
But to assume that a woman onstage with a microphone must possess some otherworldly powers to induce a few giggles? Nope. All she has to do is be funny. Just like anyone else.
And Amy Schumer is funny. Very funny. And not just funny for a gal; she's funny for a human being.
But all that isn't to say a woman can't talk about the female experience on stage. We caught Schumer's latest material at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Friday during her new Back Door Tour. And the bulk of her act tackled what it feels like to be a woman.
Schumer trotted onstage, clutching a piece of paper and a half-full bottle of white wine, and immediately made the crowd give her a standing ovation. Even as she launched into a self-deprecating bit about having "New York arms" that would register as legs in some other parts of the country, Schumer beamed confidence.
And who can blame her? Schumer's Emmy-nominated Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, was almost an immediate success. Her last special, Mostly Sex Stuff, was praised by critics and fans alike, and -- if the material she delivered on her Back Door Tour is any indication -- her next special is sure to be a hit as well. She also has a movie called Trainwreck that she wrote and is making with Judd Apatow that's set to be released next summer.
Wild success can often be dangerous for comics. It can remove them from the parts of life that made them funny in the first place. No one wants to hear you joke that your apartment's so big you get lost in it.
Schumer, for all her success and adulation, can still pinpoint that part of life where the Venn diagram of celebrity and average folk meet. Her humor, though uniquely tailored to her life and fame (one of her longer bits involved a story about finding herself next to Kate Upton) is still so very in tune with the struggles we all face. She's able to charmingly frame herself as the underdog, despite being anything but. The balance is impressive. She can talk about being in movies and then bring herself right back down to Earth by mentioning the fact that she was given a male stuntman.
Schumer's material is still familiar. She sticks closely to some of her favorite topics: self-esteem, image, dating, and, of course, sex stuff. But her newest hour of material feels fresh, elevated. Amy Schumer has gotten better.
And when her movie is released next year -- one that she stars in and wrote -- there will no doubt be headlines that declare Schumer has proven woman are funny.
Don't listen to them. Schumer hasn't proven anything that female comics haven't been proving for the past half a century. What she has shown, however, is that Amy Schumer is funny.