In comedy circles, Amy Schumer is the girl with the most cake these days. Given her hard-won red carpet ubiquity — between Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, her big-hit sketch comedy show now on apparent hiatus after four seasons, Trainwreck, the 2015 hit comedy film she wrote and starred in, and her Chris Rock-directed 2015 HBO comedy special Live At The Apollo, and all the attendant rounds of transcontinental interviews and talking head commentary, social media hand-wringing and blogospheric pearl-clutching that accompany such affairs — there’s no real need to explain who Amy Schumer is to anyone who hasn’t been chilling oblivious in a cryogenic chamber for the last three years.
Having achieved stardom on stage and screen and cable TV, it was only a matter of time until she set her sites on publishing. The result was 2016’s The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. In the time-honored tradition of the celebrity tell-all — or more accurately, tell-some — The Girl With The Lower Back is one part semi-gritty memoir, one part origin myth, one part brand force multiplier, and three parts gold rush, for which she was reportedly paid a jaw-dropping $9 million advance.
Here’s what we learn: she really, really likes wine. Preferably Rombauer Chardonnay or Opus One Cabernet. She likes weed. She likes sex. And she likes food, especially pasta and preferably right before before bed. Her parents meant well but were kinda jerks at one time or another (but then whose parents weren’t?). Her sister Kim plays Robin to her Batman, together they inflict vigilante verbal violence on unrealistic beauty standards for women, body-shaming, slut-shaming, eating-shaming, male/female pay disparities and all the other signifiers of institutionalized misogyny in the media industrial complex.
She has slept with 28 people but cannot remember everyone’s name. Despite her self-styled rep for being “sluttier than the average bear” she’s never tried anal sex, she’s too lazy for oral sex — giving, not receiving, mind you — and she’s had exactly one one-night-stand. She taught herself to masturbate watching Mannequin and she was asleep when she lost her virginity, thus rendering the question of consent semi-moot, which understandably bothers her to this day.
She was born Long-Island-summer-home rich, then plummeted into near-poverty when the bottom falls out of her father’s high-end baby furniture business, and then proceeded to claw her way back to rich using nothing more than her wits and her wit, climbing to the top of the show biz heap on a magic beanstalk of third wave feminista observational sex humor. These days, Schumer makes enough money to fly chartered private, underwrite her MS-riddled father’s experimental stem cell treatment and play angel investor for less-fortunate friends, family and sundry wait staff.
She’s not above using “anywhoozle” to fill uncomfortable silences in her prose. The President of the United States told her to her face that she is funny. She carries around pictures of Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson, two young women murdered when a gunman (whose name she refuses to say out loud or in print) went on a shooting rampage at a screening of Trainwreck in Baton Rouge last summer. In the wake of that tragedy, she has teamed up with Senator Chuck Schumer, her second cousin once removed, to champion criminal background checks for all, not just some, gun purchases.
Let’s see, what else? She loves, loves, loves Ani DiFranco but can’t stand Rod Stewart’s voice. Her favorite poet is Anne Sexton. She meditates twice a day for 20 minutes. She was busted for shoplifting at Bloomingdales when she was a teenager, resulting in a felony grand theft larceny charge that nipped a promising criminal career in the bud. “I used to shoplift the kind of clothes that people now request I wear to give them free publicity,” she writes. Fame is funny like that.
She’s half Jewish, but not very churchy. She learned to love herself, mismatched boobs and all, and get over her fear of other people’s diarrhea by volunteering as a counselor at a summer camp for people with special needs. She is a loner who craves solitude in a business predicated upon drawing a crowd. Courtesy of a drunken tattoo artist, she has a crooked tramp stamp on her coccyx, hence the title of the book.
All told, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo is a fun read, sometimes even LOL-funny, full of pre-millennial pathos, tragi-comic coming of age anecdotes, like/hate listicles, teenage diary entries, a detailed rider for her funeral (don’t bring flowers, bring a pasta dish) and enough fearless oversharing to shock the chattering class on social media into stunned, if momentary, silence. But is it worth $9 million frickin’ dollars? Hardly. Any book that nabs a $9 million advance better have the cure for cancer somewhere in all that wine-mad TMI.
The reality is that Simon and Schuster didn’t pay $9 million for the contents of this book, they were paying for all the marketing and advertising and press junket dollars and Twitter/Facebook/Instagram buzz that TV networks, film studios and glossy magazines have poured into the omnipresent awareness of brand Amy. Schumer would be the first one to acknowledge this. The big takeaway from The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo is that she never had any doubt that a gifted comedienne as whip-smart, hard-working and media-savvy as Amy Schumer would have the last laugh. — JONATHAN VALANIA
TICKET GIVEAWAY CONTEST: We have a pair of tickets for Amy Schumer’s performance at the Tower Theater on Friday to give away to some lucky Phawker reader. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much (or that you are so cool, you’ve long been on our mailing list), with the words INSIDE AMY SCHUMER in the subject line, and the correct answer to this ridiculously easy trivia question: What is the name of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon that Amy Schumer is alluding to in her joke about being “sluttier than the average bear”? Include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation (FYI, none of this info will be shared or even stored). Good luck and godspeed!