What is it about a quick puke that's so suited for comedy? In some ways, it's like laughter: a sudden, violent, convulsive hijacking of your body, accompanied by a dollop of involuntary oral ejaculation. Like laughter, it's a kind of possession; it can strike anyone, anywhere, any time, heedless of the protective barriers of wealth, status, or dignity, only instead of a creepy raspy voice coming out of their mouth, it's a torrent of hot duke. And then you have to pause whatever you're doing and deal with that. Puke blasts through abstraction. It doesn't care about consequence. It's the great egalitarian killswitch.
The opening sketch of "Slow Your Roll" ends with Amy Schumer fully doused in her realtor's vomit. After aggressively selling Amy on remodeling her bathroom, which she refuses to refer to as anything more sanitary than "the shitter" (the room where we allegedly spend 80 percent of our days), the realtor reacts violently to an offhand mention of pee and blasts Amy with her stomach soup. It's a gross-out capper to a gross-out sketch, and one of the more gut-roiling vomit moments I've seen on TV, but Amy's meek "I'll still take it..." sells the whole package. You don't just throw away your dream house over a few blown chunks.
A lot of "Slow Your Roll" deals with what comes out of and goes into women's bodies, and doubles down on the blend of scrutiny, revulsion, and fascination that cling to that. One sketch sees Amy visiting Janeane Garofalo as Cheryl Oberwood, nutritionist to the stars, who offers a barrage no-calorie dietary options like the Instagram diet (tweet it, don't eat it), the Get Motivated (you're arrested without due process), and the Beyoncé diet (find out what Beyoncé eats, tell me about it). Nothing sticks until one of Garofolo's literally skeletal clients shows up and shares her secret: she just smokes. "Tight," says Amy, "I'll do that."
In another, Amy has a stand-off with her boyfriend (of three weeks), played by Mike Birbiglia, when she finds a pile of Rorschach blots with his psychology textbook that she refuses to believe aren't pictures of her mother's vagina. "Here's my mom's vagina when I came home drunk from college," she cries, "I got in a fight with her and accused her of stealing my style!" Neither of these are particularly high concept, but they fold their subject matter in so cleanly that it's hard to knock them. In particular, they highlight how well Amy Schumer plays off a variety of energies, letting herself be cowed by Garofalo's outbursts ("I'm going to ask you a question: have you always been a fucking trashheap?") and milking Birbiglia's sanity to fuel her frantic accusations.
That Amy does salt as well as caramel makes for wonderfully easygoing woman-on-the-street segments. Maybe I'm [what's the positive version of nitpicking?], but I was caught off-guard by her use of "we" in one segment, after "Mom Computer Therapy," a beautifully rendered portrait of the deep rage that comes of teaching technology to your parents ("Don't talk to me in that tone, honey, I didn't grow up with these things"). Amy brings her interviewees into her jokes, spiking their set-ups and laughing alongside them; she brings the same evenhanded rapport that she has in a conversation with Jim Norton about his inexplicable love of golden showers to every one of her on-the-street interviews. There's no ironic distance here. Though her name's on the show, she's a remarkably egoless performer.
In the show's final stand-up segment, Amy pulls a question about her favorite sexual position. "But before she lets me answer, she wants me to know, 'Mine is doggy style!'" "This is what happens when you're a pretty girl," she ad libs, "Everyone tells you everything you say is interesting and important and you get really confused." A lot of Amy's characters are heartbreakingly dedicated to attaining that "pretty girl" status, having spent their lives staring at it through one fence or another, Pollyannaishly unaware that getting there will leave them just as fenced in. "No one ever did that to me," she adds. If that played a role in molding her into a scene partner extraordinaire, then thank God for that. After all, even the prettiest girls puke, but Amy Schumer will take it on her blouse to remind them of it.
[Image via Comedy Central]