Rating: 3 out of 5
To say that I like memoirs by female comedians is an understatement. I’ve listened to all the most popular audiobooks, including those by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Samantha Bee, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling, and Chelsea Handler.
So color me surprised that it took me eight months to get around to Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.
I’ve been a fan of Schumer’s stand-up and have enjoyed watching clips from her show, so I was confident that I’d enjoy this book.
Memoirs are successful when they’re relatable, when they illustrate the arc from starving artist to established fame with a sense of groundedness. After all, nobody wants to read the memoir of a spoiled brat who had everything handed to her and has absolutely no understanding of how the average person lives. (Exhibit A: Ivanka Trump).
Amy is certainly no Ivanka. In fact, it was interesting to hear that her parents accumulated their wealth from their luxury baby furniture business but lost it all to the point where she recalls her dad getting his sportscar repossessed when she was young.
This riches-to-rags-to-riches story brands Schumer as an underdog who had to crawl out of her family’s financial ashes and climb her way to the top. And after listening to all her anecdotes about bombing in comedy clubs and obsessively perfecting her jokes, you can tell how hard she works.
You never get the sense that she takes her fame for granted. For example, after working in the service industry for years, she makes a point to tip extremely well. She supports causes that matter to her and came to the aid of those affected by the 2015 shooting at a film screening of her movie Trainwreck.
If you’re under the impression that Schumer is a sex-crazed party girl with tons of stories about boozing and one night stands, then you’ll be disappointed with this book. Unlike Chelsea Handler, Schumer spends a great deal distancing herself from her onscreen persona and prefers to discuss more serious topics.
Some of these stories can be told with humor, like her penchant for shoplifting that led to her grand larceny arrest at age 21. But others are uncomfortable and downright depressing.
I appreciated hearing her open up about her father’s alcoholism and multiple sclerosis, and my heart broke for her after learning that her first sexual experience was being raped by a former boyfriend.
These stories make her real, but they’re not the superficial “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” tabloid tales you might expect to read. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud fest, you’re better off sticking to Schumer’s stand-up.
With that in mind, I’d recommend this book, because I learned a ton about a woman who seems like a genuine, kind-hearted person who’s passionate about her craft. She’s also an unapologetic feminist who has faced countless criticisms about her body—including the tramp stamp that gave the book its title—and refuses to be anyone other than herself.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo doesn’t quite enter the echelon of comedic memoirs that made me laugh until I cried, but it sends an empowering message to readers, and to women especially.
To Ms. Schumer: Get it, girl. Wishing you all the best!