Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Humor is subjective; an art, not a science and one in which a joke that has me ROFL, makes you frown instead. It's a "you like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto"-type a thing, much like what I think will be reader's reception to The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. Schumer's brand of humor, bold and more than a little naughty, undoubtedly inspires a wide-ranging spectrum of sentiment from fans and non-fans alike, from hate to love to somewhere in between, so her collection of essays (not a memoir) on subjects as varied as her dad, being a stand-up comic, new money, and being an introvert, to name a few, will do the same.

As I said, the book isn't a memoir, as Schumer is quick to point out from the get-go, “I’ll write one of those when I’m ninety” she says, adding that at 35 she’s not memoir-worthy. I'll confess that other than a hilarious YouTube clip of her on Ellen where she mocked the size of her arms ("Like in LA, my arms register as legs.") and an equally funny appearance on the Golden Globes, I didn't know much about Amy Schumer before reading this book. I've never seen her stand-up or her movie Trainwreck, and since I don't have cable (I can hear your gasp from here), I've never seen her comedy show. So, with that said, what did The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo teach me? Well, Schumer adores her siblings, loves her dad who is battling MS, has a complicated yet loving relationship with her mom, loves her success and everything it entails including celebrity, fame, and money, is in an ever-evolving relationship with wine (or booze in general), and most importantly, for Amy no topic or four-letter word is taboo.

While personally I'm not much of a cusser, I'm not offended by it in comedy and I must admit my funny-bone can be easily tickled (and was in this book) by a well-placed four letter word or other form of potty or juvenile humor, but others might feel otherwise. My issue with the book wasn't the NSFW topics or language, it was that many of the essays or chapters just weren't THAT funny. The only chapter in which she made me literally laugh out loud was the one titled "dad." Poopy pants does it for me I guess. A smaller gripe with the book is that Schumer gets a little preachy on serious subjects such as gun control and body-shaming of women, and though I get they're important to her, given the construct of the book and the topics for the other essays (such as "An Open Letter to My Vagina" and "Times It's Okay for a Man to Not Make a Woman Come During Sex") these conversations seemed a little out of place in this book.

Long story short, if you're looking for a laugh out loud read this isn’t quite it. Books have a way of revealing hidden truths about authors though, hidden nuggets of insight they might not have even wanted to share and The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo does just that. Despite her plans to the contrary, Schumer’s debut is really more memoir than comedy book and more than chuckles it offers real insight into the person behind the public persona, like her or not.