Amy Schumer, by most accounts, is a brilliant comedian and one of the hottest female comics in America, but she’s also taking plenty of heat for her edgy racial humor, particularly when she targets African Americans and Hispanics.
The outspoken funny lady who has been named one of Time’s 100 most influential people vows not to bore audiences with “safe material” despite criticism that her jokes are sometimes racially insensitive.
“I go in and out of playing an irreverent idiot,” Schumer tweeted. “That includes making dumb jokes involving race. I enjoy playing the girl who time to time says the dumbest thing possible and playing with race is a thing we are not supposed to do, which is what makes it so fun for comics,” she continued. “You can call it a ‘blind spot for racism’ or ‘lazy’ but you are wrong. It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it.”
“Stick with me and trust that I’m joking,” Schumer wrote. “Trust me. I’m not racist. I am a devout feminist and lover of all people.”
Schumer clearly felt some pressure to respond to the criticism because of her new movie, Trainwreck, which is getting lots of both praise and condemnation. The rap on the film is that Schumer’s racial jokes about Black people are arguably offensive – and many say the jokes aren’t even funny. Isn’t the point of comedy to make people laugh?
An African-American friend who saw Trainwreck with a diverse group of co-workers told me the racial jokes fall flat immediately and it’s not clear why the gags were incorporated into the film.
“It doesn’t mean Schumer’s racist,” my friend said, “but it does raise the question of whether her depth of experience with Black people is lacking and maybe she doesn’t have the knowledge to make these kinds of jokes.”
And since NBA star LeBron James plays a fairly significant role in the movie, I wonder what James, a Black man, thinks of Schumer’s racial humor.
One entertainment critic says Schumer has a “shockingly large blind spot around race,” which is probably a correct assessment. It’s unclear whether Schumer’s penchant for racial comedy is designed to elevate the discussion about race, as she claims. Although she writes characters that are prejudiced, her is lost in translation if some audiences can’t figure out the point of the humor while others laugh because they embrace the bigotry.
Here’s an example of Schumer’s racial jokes in Trainwreck, according to Salon:
“The first race joke occurs early in the film. Schumer’s character, also named Amy, is writing a profile on sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader). At their first meeting, Aaron comments that he enjoys working in sports, because it means he gets to work with a lot of — at which point, Schumer interjects: “Black people?”
This sets off a discussion between the two on the subject of whether Amy has any black friends. Attempting to prove to Aaron that she does, Amy (ultimately) shows him a photograph of a black waiter refilling her glass. Later, at a funeral, we are treated to another uncomfortable racial moment. Apropos of nothing, Amy’s friend Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) leans forward during the service and whispers to the mourner in front of her, a black man, that she has previously had black boyfriends. The comment leads nowhere.”
Aside from Trainwreck, in her stand-up routine, Schumer says, “Nothing works 100% of the time except Mexicans” and then basically tells her audience that Latino men are rapists. “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.” (Schumer has since tweeted an apology for that joke, saying, “I am evolving as any artist. I am taking responsibility and hope I haven’t hurt anyone.”
Frankly, none of these jokes are funny.
But Schumer says with certainty that her brand of humor is working because “people” are laughing. I just wonder which people Schumer is referring to.
What do you think?
(Photo: PR Photos)