Amy Schumer at Good Morning America to talk about her new book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo in New York. August 16, 2016. CREDIT: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
It started with rape allegations.
Inside Amy Schumer, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning, unabashedly feminist Comedy Central series, was renewed for a fifth season back in January. One of the sketch show’s finest strengths is its ability to skewer rape culture: The ways in which entire communities enable rapists and disenfranchise victims (“Football Town Nights”), how rampant rape is in the military and the ways in which victims are dissuaded from reporting on their attackers (“A Very Realistic Military Game”), the people who would rather cling to the cozy illusion of Cliff Huxtable than the likely reality that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist (“Court of Public Opinion: The Trial of Bill Cosby”).
But one of the Inside Amy Schumer’s writers, Kurt Metzger, has spent the past few days posting a series of rants on Facebook regarding the treatment of a male comedian who, in the wake of multiple rape allegations, was banned from a New York comedy club. Metzger’s posts — since August 13, he has posted nearly 50 times — are filled with rage, flinging vitriol at lynch mobs, rape victims who don’t report to the police (though he later wrote “I wouldn’t blame a victim for ANYTHING”), “dippy liberals,” “so-called feminists,” and “bullshit social media mobs.”
Aside from being notable for their white-hot fury alone, the posts are remarkably out of line with the ethos of the show for which he writes — or, perhaps more accurately, wrote.
Schumer, who it is probably safe to assume wishes Metzger had not chosen the publication week of her highly-anticipated book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, to flood the internet with these particular hot takes, first responded to Metzger’s comments with a tweet on Wednesday:
Two hours later, she followed up with this:
And late Tuesday night, she sent out a tweet to suggest that her show would not be returning for season five after all:
Comedy Central has yet to issue a statement regarding the status of Schumer’s show, though it was renewed for an upcoming season back in January. At the time, Schumer said, “We are so excited to get picked up. I’ve gotten picked up many times, but this time feels the best.”
On Thursday morning, Schumer followed up with another, slightly-less-vague announcement:
So Comedy Central didn’t kick her out, a la Larry Wilmore.
Schumer is currently promoting her book and has tour dates scheduled across North America, Europe, and Australia through the end of 2016.
Her earlier tweet, then — “there are no writers for it” — could just mean that no one, Metzger included, is technically employed by a show that is not currently in production.
While it’s possible Schumer decided — just now, total coincidence! — that she’d outgrown her series, the renewal, and her apparent joy about it, came well after the commercial and critical success of Trainwreck (she wrote and starred in the Judd Apatow-directed feature), after she landed a $9 million advance for her book, and after Inside Amy Schumer won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series.
Metzger’s outburst was a reaction to the Upright Citizens Brigade banning a male comic, Aaron Glaser, from its events after Glaser was accused of raping multiple female comics. Glaser previously had a monthly gig at the New York comedy club.
He responded to this dismissal with a Facebook post (since deleted) on Saturday, saying “I know these are serious accusations, and I know they are untrue.” In an open letter addressed to “the Comedy Community,” Glaser criticized UCB for not holding “any hearing” or telling him “who was making the non-anonymous claims” before banning him from their theaters.
A female comedian who told UCB about her allegations against Glaser spoke with Revelist under the condition of anonymity: She says that he assaulted her a few years ago, the night they met, and that she was not among the first victims to come forward. She describes not being able to remember much of the night after having a drink and finding herself at his apartment: “I wasn’t able to give consent, I couldn’t speak, it was like my body was too heavy.”
When the news of Glaser’s ban hit social media, she said, she realized she wasn’t the only one with a story like hers to tell. “It felt like someone slapped me. I burst into tears and started shaking.” She reached out to UCB; the club, she said, offered support and counseling.
She also told Revelist that support for female comedians who report sexual assault within the comedy community is limited at best. “If a female comedian speaks out about even severe abuse, the industry jumps on her. She loses work, her career is tanked, she’s told to be quiet.”
Rebecca Trent, owner of comedy club The Creek and The Cave, wrote on Facebook that anyone who had “been banned from a comedy venue in NYC for rape” was “also banned from my venue… I will not participate in the creation of another Cosby.”
It’s also worth noting that, in her book, Schumer relates her experience being sexually assaulted — she riffs on the idea of “grape,” as in, “gray-area rape” — by her boyfriend when she was a teenager:
“The facts in my situation are pretty clear to me still: He was inside of me in a way I hadn’t consented to… I wasn’t screaming no … He was only inside me for a short time. But it isn’t right that it happened that way … My first time didn’t need to be perfect, but I would have liked to have known it was going to happen. Or have been part of the decision. Instead, he just helped himself to my virginity — and I was never the same.”
After her “we aren’t making the show anymore” tweet, Schumer retweeted a fan who said she would “miss your show,” suggesting even more strongly that season four would be the series’ last.