Last season's "Inside Amy Schumer" served up a mini-masterpiece of comic escalation: Lunching ladies engage in self-flagellating fat-shaming for minor dietary lapses (“I’ve had fries, like, three times this week – I'm so bad!”) that grow into horrific confessions ("I was cyberbullying my niece on Instagram the other day and I literally ate 15 mini-muffins – I'm so bad!" is one of the tamer entries).
The scene ends with a hapless waiter, whose only sin was offering dessert, becoming the victim of an act of group cannibalism.
The "I'm So Bad!" sketch proved just how good Schumer is at building to a comic crescendo, while wrapping a point in laughs. Last year's strong showing whets the appetite for the third season of "Inside Amy Schumer," which begins Tuesday on Comedy Central as her career kicks into a higher gear.
Schumer’s recent MTV Movie Awards hosting performance (which included an unrepeatable crack about “Magic Mike XXL”) put to shame any television executive who might have overlooked her amid the recent spate of late night TV comedy program openings. She's set to star this summer in the Judd Apatow-directed movie comedy "Trainwreck." Perhaps most impressive, her show last week won a prestigious Peabody Award that celebrated her "amiably profane" approach.
Between Season 1 and Season 2, "Inside Amy Schumer" grew from promising, if uneven and occasionally needlessly crude, to consistently funny, smart and bawdy-with-a-purpose, skewering men, women, celebrity vanity – and herself.
Schumer tried to con God (Paul Giamatti) into making her herpes go away. She got decked out Cinderella-style and crashed a disabled student’s prom as a publicity stunt. She visited a trendy hotel where every need is slavishly attended to – in this case, by “Saturday Night Live” veteran Rachel Dratch, whose toadying character told Schumer: “My parents almost named me Amy, but I didn't deserve it.”
The season, as previously noted, added up to Comedy Central’s most provocative sketch program since "The Chappelle Show." Schumer also emerged as a leading force in a movement of women-driven, boundary-pushing TV comedies, all of which have grown better with time: Comedy Central’s "Broad City," HBO’s "Girls" and Fox’s "The Mindy Project."
Schumer returns Tuesday amid expectations she’ll whip up a fresh comedy feast that there’s no shame in gorging upon. Check out a preview above, in which she attacks fat shaming from another angle.
Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.