Just when I thought I couldn’t love Amy Schumer any more than I already do, she goes and takes another piece of my heart.
In case you somehow missed it, Amy Schumer has a new comedy special, GROWING, on Netflix. I hit “play” the second it was released, eager to see how she would turn the joys and horrors of pregnancy into comic gold.
I was not disappointed.
First, she stood up there on stage, hair in a messy bun, wearing a loose, comfortable dress instead of some skin tight get up… because obviously skin-tight ensembles are the last thing anyone really wants to wear when swollen and miserable and entertaining thousands of people. “Yay!” I thought. “Good for her.”
And because I like to project my own issues onto other people, I have to admit I also thought it was rather smart of her to wear loose clothing so that evil trolls waiting for their next opportunity to pounce would have less to say about her growing and changing body. No doubt it would not meet with their high expectations of what pregnancy is supposed to look like, particularly for celebrities.
AND THEN SHE OPENED HER MOUTH.
Amy concluded her lament about her misshapen belly button with lifting her dress up, way up, so everyone could see the band aid on her stomach. And her granny undies (which again, anyone who has ever been pregnant will note, are far more comfortable than something slinky and sexy… and god forbid a goddamn THONG.) Her thighs, her rounded stomach, her undies: there they all were, hanging loose and proud. They were real (and honestly, because I also like to project what I would like to think about myself in kinder moments onto others, she looked pretty fucking great.)
And so it went. She talked about the divine horror of being pregnant at the same time as Megan Markle. About being so nauseous and severely dehydrated she had to be hospitalized (more than once). About how she was standing up there on stage not because she was so brave, but because she was contractually obligated.
She was funny as hell. And the audience loved it, because, as always, she was so very real.
And then she took it a step further: she began to talk about her husband. And that’s where it got good: as though it was just a regular part of her monologue, Amy very matter-of-factly said that her husband has Asperger’s Syndrome.
At some point while I was watching, Teenager had walked into the room (I hadn’t noticed — one does not notice their child when one is trying not to pee in one’s pants from laughter. One can’t: it’s physically impossible.). So he’s standing there, fourteen and grossed out by changing bodies and pregnancy realities, poised to run away in horror… when he hears a word he knows well: “Asperger’s.”
Teenager stops, turns around, and sits down next to me. I pause Netflix, because now that I’ve finally noticed him I’m thinking, ‘Will someone call child services on me for letting him watch Amy Schumer live? Being the brutally honest kid that he is, he will definitely tell someone who will judge my parenting skills.” And then, do I give a shit?
As usual, the answer is clear: “Nope.”
Amy spoke lovingly about her husband, the guy with Asperger’s. She showed a hideously unflattering picture that he painted of her (while she was at the hospital, no less!), told a story about how on an early date she tripped and fell, and he simply froze. “Nine out of ten people would have stopped and said something like ‘are your okay’?” she said, and then added, “No, I’m going to go on a limb and say ten out of ten.” (I’m paraphrasing here, so forgive me, Amy. You were funnier than I could ever be, and your timing was impeccable). Teenager, feeling seen, fell on the floor laughing. I’m not kidding here: he literally fell on the floor.
He was riveted. I was riveted. A well-known, popular, and outrageously real and hilarious comedian was standing there, telling the world how madly she was in love with a man who froze when she fell down instead of asking her if she was okay. It got even better after that, but to me and my son, that particular anecdote was perhaps the most powerful takeaway: her husband was just being himself, reacting in the moment. And it wasn’t what was expected of him, or what most people (okay, pretty much all people) would do… and it was alright. She didn’t yell at him, cry over his insensitivity, or break up with him. In fact, she married him.
The implicit message is powerful: people with Asperger’s get married and are loved, even when they do something “unexpected” (the usual social skills group parlance explains social cues and norms as “expected behavior”) The social skill language means well but, let’s face it: framing human behavior as “expected” vs. “unexpected” squarely places anyone who does it differently as an outsider. And guess who is always, always on the outside?
“Once he was diagnosed, all of the reasons that made [it] clear he was on the spectrum were all of the reasons I fell madly in love with him,”
she said a few moments later. In the days since, autism advocates all over have taken to Twitter to praise Amy for disclosing her husband’s diagnosis in such a positive and loving way. and yes, I’m praising her, too.
But more than that, I got to see how her words lit up my son from within, how for perhaps the first time, he felt no embarrassment or need to explain himself and the reasons he might do or say some of the things he does and says. Things he’s routinely apologetic about. Things that make him an easy target for bullies. Things that make him feel defensive and unlovable. Things that make him wonder if he will ever have a family, be a father, the object of someone else’s deep love and desire.
It might have been one of the most powerful moments of his life. And I got to see it, sitting next to him on the couch. I got to see what hope looks like.
And then she started talking about her cavernous vagina.
So Teenager ran out of the room screaming – you know, the usual. But I stayed, of course, and continued to laugh my ass off.
When it was over, I wiped the tears from my face and went upstairs to dig out some old granny panties. Period day panties: you know, just my own private way to honor Amy Schumer.
So now she’s taken on body image, fat shaming, the truth about periods, and the ridiculous habit of cupping one’s baby bump in photographs, to mention just a few. And with a few words, she shattered long held stigmas about autism and cemented her status as my hero forever.
I can’t wait until she takes on menopause.