While it might seem like just yesterday that Inside Amy Schumer was on air, it’s been nearly a decade since the show premiered on Comedy Central. Airing in the same era as Kroll Show and Key & Peele, the series instantly made waves in 2013 as one of the last great sketch shows to come out of the channel’s heyday.
A variety show at its core, the series was a blend of man-on-the-street segments, longer in-depth interviews, select clips from Schumer’s stand-up material, and topical sketches. The latter was the show’s speciality and what defined it during its original run. The sketches were clever, brash, progressive, and sometimes simply dumb. In its four years on air, Inside Amy Schumer became as known for skewering gender politics as it was for reveling in human grossness, mixing sharp commentary on rape culture with jokes about dumping out.
The show increased in popularity during its first few years, culminating in a landmark third season that garnered the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series (the same year the show was awarded a Peabody). By the fourth season, Schumer was a bona fide star, which presented its own set of hurdles. The sketches shifted in tone, the court of public opinion began to fall out of her favor, and even her man-on-the-street segments became less “on the street” and were typically conducted among her friends at a bar, most likely by necessity. While the fourth season was by no means bad, it resulted in a slight dip in ratings and a notable lack of viral sketches. Despite a renewal order, the series went on hiatus with no signs of returning — until now.
Inside Amy Schumer makes its return to TV on Paramount+ on October 20. Clocking in at five episodes, the new season promises to be “better than ever” (“Well, not as good as season 3,” Schumer noted in her Instagram announcement. “But close”). In honor of Inside Amy Schumer’s return to TV, we’re revisiting 12 of the show’s essential sketches that encapsulate its timely, self-deprecating, and biting sense of humor.
“Lunch at O’Nutters”
Season 1, Episode 2: “Real Sext”
The majority of Inside Amy Schumer’s first season grapples with gender norms, unpacking double standards and flipping the script on preconceived notions of femininity. While some of the sketches are fun but run-of-the-mill “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” concepts, others dig slightly deeper. In “Lunch at O’Nutters,” Schumer parodies Hooters and its ilk when she and a friend bring their heartbroken male co-worker to O’Nutters, a testicle-themed restaurant where the waiters are scantily clad men. Schumer and her female friend are charmed by their flirtatious waiter (Jon Glaser), while their co-worker is justifiably upset about his surroundings.
Season 1, Episode 3: “A Porn Star Is Born”
Before there was the I Think You Should Leave’s pig-slop “Instagram” sketch, there was “Compliments.” With the help of Abby Elliott, Nikki Glaser, and Greta Lee, Schumer found the first season’s best sketch in the concept of not being able to take a compliment. What starts as one woman deflecting a compliment on her hair with a self-deprecating jab turns into a frenzy of increasingly unhinged comments. Fortunately, one confident woman is able to put a stop to things — with deadly results.
Season 1, Episode 5: “Gang Bang”
Part of Schumer’s initial allure was that she never pretended to be a great person. She’s candid in her carefully curated shortcomings, at least through her sketch and stand-up persona, and often paints herself as someone who drinks too much, fibs, and takes the easy way out. This is first on display in season one’s “Cancer Excuse,” which deals with comedian (and Inside Amy Schumer writer) Tig Notaro’s real-life cancer. In the sketch, she uses Notaro’s cancer diagnosis as an excuse to get out of things, but it eventually catches up with her (via a cameo appearance from Notaro).
“A Very Realistic Military Game”
Season 2, Episode 2: “I’m So Bad”
With the success of Inside Amy Schumer’s first season came a slightly bolder second season, first evidenced in “A Very Realistic Military Game.” After deciding to play as a girl in her boyfriend’s military video game (“just like Call of Duty, except the game play is way more realistic”), Schumer is shocked to watch as her character is raped by a fellow officer. Her new missions include doing paperwork, testifying at the Pentagon, and watching as her attacker is put back on active duty despite being found guilty. It’s snappy, timely, and somehow still funny.
Season 2, Episode 3: “A Chick Who Can Hang”
“The Foodroom” is Schumer’s take on Aaron Sorkin productions and one of the better Sorkin spoofs to date. Schumer plays opposite Josh Charles as fast-food employees with history. When a school bus pulls up and the drive-through camera feed cuts out, it’s all hands on deck as they attempt to serve up the order in time. The rapid-fire dialogue and quick walking throughout the kitchen provide all of the hallmarks of a Sorkin series. The sketch is made by Charles (who, like Lee, provides multiple valuable assists throughout the series) and his straight-faced delivery of a life-or-death monologue relayed through a wonky headset.
“Mom Computer Therapy”
Season 2, Episode 7: “Slow Your Roll”
While hot takes and spoofs constitute many of Schumer’s greatest hits, some of her best sketches are simple riffs on relatable problems like trying to help a parent use the computer. In “Mom Computer Therapy,” Schumer has her therapist (Kathy Najimy) help her interact with her mother, who is struggling to use (or even turn on) her laptop. The simple task of sending an email proves difficult, and it’s made all the more excruciating by her mom’s throwaway comments (“Machines don’t work around me”).
Season 2, Episode 9: “Raise a Glass”
Another one of Schumer’s best parodies is “Sauced,” a drunk take on the competitive-cooking series Chopped. In it, Schumer and a friend (Lee) return home after a drunken night out only to find that their apartment has been turned into the set of a competition series. Their challenge? Put together a dish while completely trashed, using ingredients found around their kitchen: a half-eaten Chobani yogurt from 2012, four baby carrots, a shriveled lime, and a bottle of Lexapro. Their final dishes are nearly as entertaining as the journey to get there.
“Last Fuckable Day”
Season 3, Episode 1: “Last Fuckable Day”
Season three hits the ground running with multiple notable sketches in each episode. The show’s success also brought with it an impressive slew of guest stars, most notably in “Last Fuckable Day.” While on a stroll, Schumer stumbles across Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette celebrating Louis-Dreyfus’s last fuckable day: the date when the media decides an actress is no longer “believably fuckable” and her trajectory is forever changed. The trio share the signs with Schumer — getting cast in movies with titles like Whatever It Takes, auditioning to play Mrs. Claus, and receiving wardrobes filled exclusively with long sweaters — and caution her against trying to fight the natural order of things.
“Football Town Nights”
Season 3, Episode 1: “Last Fuckable Day”
Charles makes another memorable appearance as the new head coach of a high-school football team in this wry take on Friday Night Lights. Charles’s character brings with him some radical goals for the team: a no-huddle offense, double practices, and — most shockingly — no raping. The team members are perplexed by the new agenda, and the townspeople grow upset, worried their boys won’t be able to properly celebrate or blow off steam. The team struggles at first but eventually rallies after a passionate locker-room speech from Charles’s character, all chanting, “Clear eyes, full hearts, don’t rape.” His wife, played by Schumer, skirts the scenes with increasingly large glasses of wine and nonsensical idioms.
“12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”
Season 3, Episode 3: “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”
The best Inside Amy Schumer sketch is also the best episode of the series. An episode-long spoof of a classic courtroom drama at the height of the series’ success was certainly a bold choice, but it proved to be the best creative decision that Schumer & Co. ever made. Inspired by the Reginald Rose play and film, the sketch follows the 12 jurors (including Jeff Goldblum, Kumail Nanjiani, and Paul Giamatti) tasked with determining whether Schumer is hot enough for television. Her punishment if found guilty? Losing her TV show — and maybe even death. The men debate whether they’d want to sleep with her and what people seek from television in the first place before coming to a reluctant conclusion.
Season 3, Episode 4: “I’m Sorry”
“Celebrity Interview” aired right around the time David Letterman retired, Jon Stewart and Samantha Bee left The Daily Show, and the politics of late night were called into question. In the sketch, Schumer takes on a movie-star persona — Amy Lake Blively — as she appears on a late-night talk show hosted by Cliffley Bennett (Bill Hader). The sketch highlights many of the perplexing tropes that dominate the late-night scene, featuring a convincingly creepy host who jokingly wishes his wife were dead, an obtusely flirtatious guest, and a couple of disgusting audience members.
“Welcome to the Gun Show!”
Season 4, Episode 2: “Welcome to the Gun Show”
Thanks in part to a successful awards season and a warm reception to Trainwreck, Schumer had officially become a household name by the time season four rolled around. Her newfound status meant a slight departure from the everywoman charm that defined her early sketches, and many of her new skits skewed toward the topics of fame and stardom. While that led to slightly less relatable content, the season was at its best when Schumer leaned into her celebrity to tackle tough subjects — most notably gun control, which became a personal issue after the 2015 shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, that took place during a screening of Trainwreck. In “Welcome to the Gun Show!,” Schumer and Kyle Dunnigan portray home-shopping network co-hosts who sell guns. The sketch highlights the relaxed gun laws in the United States, using Inside Amy Schumer’s signature blend of satire and incredulous commentary to poke holes in major conservative talking points.