You’re not at Amy Schumer tonight. (if you are, stop reading, she’s a genius!) Neither are we. It’s a pop culture moment at its ripest, tonight’s Toronto performance, just before Trainwreck comes out, overexposure sets in, when Amy Schumer is at the moment of greatest perfection in her ascent.
When we (we being the collective Toronto Standard we) reflect on changes to the cultural consciousness during our long winter nap one of the forces that has changed us the most has to be … Amy Schumer. Her brand of incisive social commentary comedy runs parallel to a trend that started with the protests in Egypt, came to North America during Ferguson, reached some kind of nadir/zenith with #gamergate Ghomeshi and Cosby, and is manifesting right now in Toronto in reaction to a sexual harassment lawsuit in the restaurant industry: the tech driven voice of the voiceless.
It’s poetic, being depressing, the agrarian-themed “showdown” between the two extremes of the Toronto restaurant industry: the party cowboy culture at weslodge and the socially conscious foodiness of Jenn Agg and the Black Hoof. It is not surprising that a restaurant featuring dead animal heads on the walls might not have the most refined culture. What is surprising, and new, is calling that culture out. Much of Schumer’s power comes from what she calls her honesty bombs. Well, honesty bombs are in vogue, and they make a lot of ripples on the social web. There were very few ways to make ripples before people could retreat to Reddit or Twitter in the wake of new developments driven by podcast fans in the evolving fate of Adnan Syed, or a sexual harassment lawsuit. Hundreds of people were discussing the suit and aware of Agg’s panel within hours of its conception. The honesty bombs of the previously voiceless are changing us, inciting us to action, driven by connectivity.
Tech and startup culture gets a lot of deserved scorn for its disconnectedness and self-absorption. But that culture is changing our world, faster all the time, and changing this city by bringing communities together and driving debate. That’s going to be meaningful to a lot more people than quarterly earnings or revenue models. And while tech can be isolating (it’s hard to feel less connected to humanity than in a room of people staring at their phones) it’s also revealing our collective humanity in ways that are already changing us. We have visionaries, entrepreneurs and innovators and makers to thank for that, originals like Jen Agg and Amy Schumer and Leerom Segal, a young Toronto entrepreneur, founder of Klick, who just held a conference Bill Clinton spoke at, or Vitaly Buterin, maybe the most brilliant blockchain mind in the world. In this great city of ours, people are dreaming of doing business in ways that don’t look like anything that’s come before. We’re looking forward to shining a light on the people shaping the innovation culture.