Is Amy Schumer's $9 million tell-mostly-all her next big hit?
In comedy circles these days, Amy Schumer is the girl with the most cake. 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; her HBO comedy special, Live at the Apollo; and all the attendant rounds of transcontinental interviews - there's no real need to explain who Amy Schumer is.
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; her HBO comedy special, Live at the Apollo; and all the attendant rounds of transcontinental interviews - there's no real need to explain who Amy Schumer is.
It was only a matter of time before she set her sights on publishing. The result is 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 Tattoo is one part semi-gritty memoir, one part origin myth, one part brand-force multiplier, and one part gold rush (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 bed. Her sister Kim plays Robin to her Batman, and 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 has never tried anal sex, she's too lazy for oral sex - giving, not receiving, mind you - and she has had exactly one one-night-stand. She taught herself to masturbate watching Mannequin, and she was asleep when she lost her virginity, thus rendering semi-moot the question of consent, which bothers her to this day.
She was born Long-Island-summer-home rich, then plummeted into near-poverty when the bottom fell out of her father's high-end baby-furniture business, and proceeded to claw her way back to rich using nothing more than her wits and her wit.
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 was 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 last summer in Baton Rouge, La., at a screening of Trainwreck.
Let's see, what else? She loveslovesloves 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 Bloomingdale's 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 learned to love herself, mismatched boobs and all. She is a loner who craves solitude in a business predicated on drawing a crowd. Courtesy of a drunken tattoo artist, she has a crooked tramp stamp on her coccyx - hence the title of her book.
All told, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo is a fun read, sometimes even LOL-funny, full of premillennial pathos, tragicomic coming-of-age anecdotes, like/hate listicles, teenage-diary entries, a detailed rider for her funeral (don't bring flowers, do bring a pasta dish), and enough fearless oversharing to shock the chattering class on social media into stunned, if momentary, silence.
The reality is that Simon & 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 to acknowledge this.
The big takeaway from The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo is that Amy Schumer never had any doubt that a gifted comedian as whip-smart, hardworking, and media-savvy as herself would have the last laugh.