Published Jul 14, 2017Warranted or not, Amy Schumer has become one of the most scrutinized comedians in popular culture. That is why it comes as such a disappointment that 2017's The Leather Special does so little to silence her detractors.
Before drawing pitchforks, comedy fans are right to draw parallels between the leather motif in this special and Eddie Murphy's Delirious and Raw, but unlike certain jokes within the routine, this similarity is explicitly stated and not a coincidence of "parallel thinking." Ignoring the possibility that Schumer may have engaged in joke-stealing from the likes of Attell and Chappelle, the special as a whole lacks any sort of flow and feels like a collection of unoriginal and half-hearted statements without attachment to one another.
Schumer should be lauded for her frankness, but her delivery becomes frustrating when outlandish anecdotes aren't supported by clever or personal insights. Instead, she often takes the Sweet Dee (Always Sunny in Philadelphia) approach and uses sound effects to bolster her stories, leaving promising joke opportunities on the table. Schumer is guilty of excessive onomatopoeia when describing that all great comedians have leather specials, and that it must be awkward having to put on tight leather after a one-night stand. Rather than elaborating on the hypothetical inelegance of escaping a person's room or hailing a taxi in such a tight outfit, she asks us to "imagine" having to do those things while simply groaning and standing uncomfortably for affect.
Fortunately, she eventually reaches her truly funny and thematically developed bit when humorously reflecting upon the time she released a topless selfie and was labeled as "brave." Schumer is, at the core of this performance, advocating for self-esteem and encourages the audience to ignore body shaming and negativity. Unfortunately, Schumer proceeds to stumble through mundane setups and predictable punch lines while only indirectly addressing the established theme of self-love and it all feels remarkably rudimentary for a comedian playing a theater.
More troubling however, is Schumer's lack of dedication to a joke. The greatest representation of Schumer's lack of resolution comes when considering a world where men take birth control pills. This promising setup goes unfulfilled as she runs through the motions of someone blandly taking a birth control pill without adding male idiosyncrasies to the routine, leaving the audience to do the legwork of imagining the premise without delivering on the joke.
Amy Schumer is a very funny comedian with an impressive repertoire, and despite recent controversy, she is reportedly one of the most hardworking in the field. This may explain why the special feels flat, like she is forcing unprepared material to succeed rather than working with well thought-out bits. Either way it will be interesting to see how she responds to this lackluster performance in her next standup hour.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.