15 Things I Learned From Amy Schumer’s Memoir
I’ve been very excited about getting my mitts on Amy Schumer’s memoir for a LONG TIME, since it’s announcement last year. Then when it’s title was announced The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo I had the same reaction that pretty much every fan of Amy’s must have had: “LOL classic Amy! What would Stieg Larsson say! Har har!” Because that’s what happens when you’re a fan of someone’s work, you think you’re mates. And you haven’t even met. You’ve just tweeted them, like twice.
Although I did meet Amy once, interviewing her when I used to work at GLAMOUR and in a tiny hotel room she made us snort and lol and actually, she DID make us feel like we were mates. Then she got whisked away and I never saw her again. All good things must come to an end….just like her incredible book.
Now, I’m going to confess something, I had made assumptions about this book. I had secretly judged it before it’d come out. I try not to do this. But I do what most human-beings do and try and “put something in a box” before stopping myself. I expected it to be along the same lines as the script of Trainwreck. Crazy Amy Schumer doing crazy Amy Schumer things! Totally cray! Up all night for the sun, up all night for good fun.
However. It completely and utterly and beautifully surprised me by not being this. In this book, you get something really special: you get a glimpse of the Amy who isn’t on stage. You get the behind-the-curtain “backstage Amy”. You get real Amy.
Here’s 15 things I learned from the book:
1. Big comedy stars can be introverts too
Amy is honest about the reality of being an introvert in an industry where everyone expects you to always be “on” (I don’t mean on your period but always FUNNY AND OMG HI!) She likes down time, and although I’m not classified as an introvert (I’ve done the tests) I enjoy “performing” and being surrounded by people I also love being totally alone for long periods of time. I think anyone can relate to this honesty about sometimes NOT WANTING TO TALK TO ANYONE. I highlighted this passage: “You cross paths with lots of people in this line of work, and you feel shitty if you don’t give away some of your energy. And I do mean “give away”. Energy is finite between recharges.”
2. You can make fun of yourself AND love yourself
These two things are not mutually exclusive. One thing I adore about Amy in general is her ability to laugh at herself, without putting herself down (if you know what I mean?) She doesn’t take herself seriously but is also extremely confident. She mentions her ability to re-post horrible paparazzi pictures on her Instagram as a bit of a fuck-you to the tabloids. “I will make fun of myself a lot in this book, but understand that I feel good, healthy, strong and fuckable.”
3. She is not afraid to talk about money
I LOVE THE FACT THAT THERE IS A CHAPTER ON MONEY. No one talks about money in Britain. It’s still taboo to go around asking people about money, or talking about your own money. We all just wallow in our money problems in private. But in comes Amy Schumer with her chapter “On being new money”. Thank you Amy. This chapter includes funny anecdotes of fellow rich comedians and also unashamed chat about how good it feels to have money. She does not bullshit around the bush: “I’m not going to bullshit you: it feels great to know I can send my niece to any school she wants. It’s relaxing to know I can pay for my dad to be in a better facility and make sure he sees the best MS specialist in America.” It’s really refreshing to hear a young women talk confidently about money, while also saying: “I don’t believe money changes your level of happiness. But things do get easier, and I feel great in the moments when I can help someone.” I LOVE THIS. It’s my pet peeve when people say “money doesn’t matter! Do what you love!” Mate – we all gotta pay the bills.
4. Your parents are people
What I LOVE about this book is that hidden behind the hilarious stories are real, important topics. There is a very funny anecdote about Amy’s dad, although the overall theme is sad because he is ill. This line was incredibly poignant: “the saddest realisation I’ve had in my life is that my parents are people. Sad human people. I aged a decade in that moment.”
5. Her school friends were weirdly cool
Sorry Amy, but I just couldn’t relate to your teenage journal chapter. She talks about a guy in her class who she fancies called Mark. Mark’s in a band. Just old and plain Mark. OH WAIT, MARK IS NOW IN THE BAND TAKING BACK SUNDAY.
6. You get to choose your own milestones
The description of when Amy first “became a woman” is one of my favourites. Instead of saying it was when she “had her period” or “had sex” or whatever-the-textbooks-say – she disagrees and says the first time she felt like a woman was when “I turned a solemn quiet room into a place filled with unexpected laughter. I became a woman because I did, for the first time, what I was supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.” This chapter was brilliant and relatable because we ALL have a different story or memory of the first time you first felt like a badass woman.
7. Hanging with older people makes you a better person
When Amy volunteered at Camp Anchor (mainly to attempt at making her crush fall in love with her). She ends up having to work with a group called “Senior 10” full of older ladies instead of the cute little kids she was kinda hoping for. Turned out, the elderly women taught Amy a lot of life lessons: “Sometimes you have to scoop their boobies back into their very backward bathing suits. And they didn’t give a fuck about any of that. And it made me feel the same. For a teenager like me, learning to give zero fucks was nothing short of revelatory.”
8. She talks openly and honestly about sexual assault and consent
The chapter “How I lost my virginity” made me cry. Not only because it totally fucking sucks that this happened to Amy, but I felt so grateful that she was talking about it in such a colloquial manner. She writes like you’re in the pub with her. She highlights the fact that there are nuances and contexts and different versions of assault. It’s not all about being attacked in a forest. It can happen in relationships with people you think you can trust. This chapter is very important and will no doubt help a lot of people feel less alone. I feel like this book is giving emotion and context to a lot of the “jokes” we see her performing on YouTube too: “I used to do some stand-up about this confused area. I’d call it “grape” – “grey area rape”.
9. She hates parties and loves meditating
Amy meditates twice a day for 20 minutes each. And hate parties. Me too. Amy, me too. Except if they are very small parties. Like max 6 people. In my house, so I can go to bed at any time.
10. Appreciate those horrible bosses
I love how candidly Amy talks about work and success. “I still have to give it up to all the horrible bosses I’ve worked for in the services industry, because most of what I know as a boss today has come from those experiences. And from learning NOT to be ever be like them.” Love this.
11. Learn by doing
On work and shit jobs, I LOVE THIS QUOTE: “I got more value from just one day on Tina Fey’s set and two days on Lena Dunham’s than I got from any other long-term job I’ve had.” Totally love this, that DOING often teaches you more than going to endless courses. I know “HUSTLE!” is an over-used Pinterest quote. But, the hustle is real. There’s also a chapter called “Can’t knock the hustle” and I love this quote she says at the end of the chapter about success: “It’s hard work – without shortcuts.”
12. The conclusions of each essay are gold
This is a really well written book of essays. Because you know what? On the end of each chapter I was FIST-PUMPING. The end on a HIGH and with MEANING. Especially the chapter “Beautiful and Strong”: “I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you.”
13. Stand-up is HARDDDDDDDD
I got goose-bumps on her description of her first “bomb” when it comes to stand-up. “First you think there might be something wrong with the sounds. But there isn’t. You’re the problem. You and your terrible jokes that are not funny.” It made my stomach go all funny. IMAGINE no one laughing on stage. This chapter “How to be a stand-up comedian” made me appreciate just how much of a skill it is. And how hard Amy has worked to get where she is now.
14. She talks the real-talk about abusive relationships
I cried again during the chapter “The Worst Night of my life” about an abusive partner. “You’re not alone if this happening to you.” Again, this chapter reads like a no bullshit, badass big sister telling you how it is. It’s very comforting and empowering at the same time.
15. Magazines ask shit questions
The chapter “An exciting time for Women in Hollywood” is VERY GOOD INDEED. She explains honestly about what happened after she wrote and starred in her own movie and when on the promo trail. The realisation that “actors aren’t really paid to act. What they’re paid for is to do press. What a gross discovery.” Basically: she is sick and fucking tired of being asked “is it an exciting time for WOMEN IN ENTERTAINMENT AND FILMS?” “The exciting time will come when nobody has to answer that stupid question”. PREEEEEEACH.
Basically: I love this book so much. It is hilarious just as it is heart-breaking. It has solutions. It has lessons. It is worth the money. Buy it.
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