Comedian Amy Schumer, in a speech at a Ms. Foundation for Women event last month, talked frankly about a college sexual encounter with a jerk, chronicled her struggle to maintain her confidence amid cracks about her weight and put naysayers on notice.
"I am a woman with thoughts and questions and s--- to say, " Schumer declared (per Vulture).
The speech proved by turns painfully honest, achingly funny, profane and defiant. That also pretty much sums up the second season of "Inside Amy Schumer," which ends Tuesday as a triumph for a performer who moved beyond mere raunchiness to deliver some of the year’s strongest TV comedy.
Schumer, who turned 33 this week, showed maturation in her work, upping the smart, feminist quotient amid bawdy humor that might make the boys from "South Park" blush. She also gave Comedy Central its most potent mix of provocative and daring since "The Chappelle Show."
Like Dave Chappelle, Schumer aims at a wide array of targets: men, women, class, celebrity and, perhaps most frequently, herself.
Schumer was at her most purposefully grating – and strangely poignant – in a bit where she crashed a prom, determined to foist herself on a disabled student to offer him “pity sex.” Instead, she made a fool of herself trying to work out her own past high school trauma (“I’ve never heard of you,” the object of her pity told her after she arrived in a horse-drawn carriage, decked out like Cinderella).
She took fat shaming to task in a sketch where a ladies’ lunch turned into a one-upmanship game in which increasingly disturbing accounts of abhorrent behavior were juxtaposed with minor dietary slips.
"I was cyberbullying my niece on Instagram the other day and I literally ate 15 mini-muffins! I'm so bad!" Schumer confessed. (It gets far worse – and unrepeatable – from there. Let's just say it doesn't ends well for the waiter.)
In her most clever vignette of the season, Schumer checks into a trendy hotel (The U) where a fawning employee slavishly attends to her ("My parents almost named me Amy, but I didn't deserve it"). Of course, when Schumer checks out, she's treated like yesterday’s trash.
The hotel sequence was stolen by former "Saturday Night Live" player Rachel Dratch, who was among guest stars this season that included Paul Giamatti (who played God) and Colin Quinn (who played an annoying Satanic henchman).
The appearances mark signs of Schumer's growing stature, as does her name turning up in stories about the shifting late night comedy talk show landscape. But let’s hope she'll keep honing her act for at least another season on a show whose title is both a dirty joke and a promise for a peek into the mind of an evolving talent with plenty to say.
Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media 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.