Comedians are beloved for pushing boundaries—that is, until they push them too far, whether through ill-conceived material or bad personal behavior, plunging into an abyss that's often difficult to escape.
It's happening right now to Amy Schumer. After capturing sketch-comedy lightning in a bottle with the second season of Inside Amy Schumer, public opinion has recently begun to turn against her. Obviously, it's not hurting her bottom line yet—she's playing a huge show at Moda Center this week—but she's certainly not the untouchable force she was even a year ago.
What changed? We'll get to that. But as is often the case, it wasn't necessarily a series of unfortunate events but a single, destructive moment. Here are several notable examples.
Oct. 21, 2016: Amy Schumer releases a "parody" of Beyoncé's "Formation" video.
The backlash against Schumer has been brewing for a while, beginning with accusations that she stole jokes from the late Patrice O'Neal and reaching a boil when she defended one of the male writers on her show for being a rape apologist. But the tipping point came when she decided it'd be highlarious to grab Goldie Hawn and co-opt an anthem written specifically for black women. Twitter responded with the "#AmySchumerGottaGoParty" hashtag, proving that no one shakes the Beyhive without getting stung.
May 12, 1990: Andrew Dice Clay's appearance on Saturday Night Live sparks a boycott from cast members and Sinéad O'Connor. Determining the moment when the dude who got famous by telling misogynist nursery rhymes "fell from grace" is a bit tricky, but it's either this or The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
May 25, 1992: Jay Leno takes over as host of The Tonight Show.
Believe it or not, every Trump voter's favorite funnyman (presumably) was once well-regarded among his peers for his work ethic and keen observational eye. It wasn't until he scored the most coveted gig in television (screwing over David Letterman in the process) and began chuckling through vapid celebrity interviews that the comedy elite turned on him. A year into his run, Bill Hicks branded him a "whore" and wondered how long he'd make it before "blowing his Doritos-shilling head off." Only about 22 years, it turned out.
Sept. 11, 2001: Dennis Miller goes conservative.
He didn't go full-wingnut like his former SNL castmate Victoria Jackson, but the fact that his post-9/11 transformation into the Republican Jon Stewart can't be blamed on any apparent mental illness is somehow worse.
Nov. 17, 2006: Michael Richards goes on a racist rant at the Laugh Factory in L.A.
Everybody loved Kramer. No one really had an opinion on the actor who played him until he tried his hand at standup and figured the best way to respond to hecklers would be to scream the N-word at them, making everyone think back with a cringe to that Seinfeld episode where Kramer accidentally gives himself blackface.
Feb. 10, 2007: Joe Rogan confronts Carlos Mencia in the middle of a set for stealing jokes.
Accusations of joke thievery can typically be excused as "parallel thought," but it takes real (insert exaggerated Mexican accent here) cojones to blatantly jack a whole bit from the Bill Cosby classic Himself—like, beat for friggin' beat—and then claim to have never seen it. Granted, plagiarism was the least of Mencia's flaws as a comic, but after a briefly successful run as Comedy Central's replacement for Dave Chappelle, his career basically cratered because of Rogan's campaign against him. Well, mostly—catch Mencia next week at Tommy T's in Pleasanton, California!
June 3, 2011: Tracy Morgan tells a crowd in Nashville that he'd stab his son if he came out as gay.
You know a joke is bad when it takes nearly dying in a car crash to get you back in the public's good graces.
Oct. 16, 2014: Hannibal Buress calls Bill Cosby a rapist onstage.
What, did you think it was going to be the premiere of Ghost Dad? Allegations against Cosby had been around for years—his old "Spanish Fly" bit should've tipped everyone off in the '60s—but it took a viral video of Buress telling an audience in Philadelphia to Google "Bill Cosby + rape" for the media to take them seriously.
Sept. 15, 2016: Jimmy Fallon tousles Donald Trump's hair.
No one was ever going to mistake the guy who conducts every interview like a schoolgirl at a slumber party for Walter Cronkite, but the moment Fallon gently mussed the flaxen weave atop the incoming Führer-in-Chief's head on The Tonight Show will go down as the pop-culture equivalent of Neville Chamberlain giving Hitler a noogie before handing him Czechoslovakia.
Amy Schumer plays Moda Center, 1 N Center Court St., on Thursday, Dec. 1. 8 pm. $39.50-$115. All ages.