I’ve been watching more comedians on Netflix recently.
Some shows I find quite funny. Others, not so much.
I guess it is normal and acceptable to use yourself as an easy comic target.
Here is an example from my watchlist this past week:
“I’m trash.” [Amy Schumer, The Leather Special]
I often don’t like my body appearance that much either. That one is a hard lesson to unlearn.
But the level of relentless self-deprecation I hear during some of these shows makes me wonder – what if you were a comic, and you hated on yourself publicly for your job, and people paid you really well to do it, and then one day you woke up and decided you didn’t want to hate yourself anymore (in public or in private)?
In theory, you could probably just pop out a new show about how the old “I-hate-me” you got killed by the new “I-love-me” you and how gory and bloody and satisfying it was, and that’s why you decided not to even wear leather tonight but to show up au naturel so everyone could celebrate your newfound body love with you….
And then (hopefully) not wonder too much why the only place your new act was available to watch was on pay-per-view.
But in the meantime, it’s out there. And from what I remember of the little (horrific) moments I have dabbled in acting, not staying in character can be deadly.
As a comic whose trademark is self-hate, let your mind wander into “I love me” land for a second and boom – lines gone, show over.
I have to admit, Amy’s was the worst I’ve watched thus far.* After watching her, I kind of don’t feel like watching any more “comedy” for awhile.
She just hit all the low self-esteem points – from the scent of her own nether regions to the aforementioned rationale behind why she says and does so many decidedly un-self-healthful things (“I’m trash.”)
About three-quarters of the way through the show, no longer deceived by my previous assumption that I was going to get brilliant, high-brow comedy out of this insanely intelligent, fit, previously funny, and famous young woman, I switched it off. (I probably would have switched it off sooner, but my couch was soooo comfy and I was soooo tired….)
I did this because I know we inevitably become like the company we keep – even if she or he is visiting us at our own request from our television screen.
I spent far too many years thinking that I was trash, that I was fat, that I needed to somehow either erase or pillory parts of myself to be allowed to hang around and take up space.
During this time, well before the age of Netflix and “streaming” anything, it was also insanely easy for me to find “mentors” who reinforced all of these horrible beliefs I had about myself.
It amazes me that, after so many years – decades really – of fighting to unlearn my formerly virulent self-hate, I can now access “how to hate myself” lessons on demand.
If I choose to, that is. And I definitely don’t choose to.
Today’s Takeaway: Please don’t take this the wrong way – I think Amy Schumer and her compadres are smart, brilliant, creative, funny – all the wonderful things. I just don’t hear THEM saying that. That is what gets me. I’ve gotten bopped on the virtual head more than a few times on this very blog for saying things that certain readers said sounded far too much like “self-praise.” My response has always been, if it is legitimate, and no one else is doing it (or even if they are), it’s not like this world goes out of its way to distribute kindness. If we can send a little our own way we will likely have more for everyone. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this topic!
* Interestingly, after writing this, I noticed a trending topic about Amy’s special and how internet trolls are coming together to give her show one-star reviews. So I went on Netflix and read some of the reviews….they all sound like they really wanted to like the show and just couldn’t. In other words, they sounded like me. Of course, it won’t ever be possible to know what is truly in the mind of another watcher or reviewer. But perhaps we are just reacting to the awareness that Amy has a lot more to offer than just raunch and self-deprecation disguised as comedy…and we are all hoping for that for her.