Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo: HBO, Saturday October 17 at 10 PM Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, July 12th, 2020  

Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo

HBO, Saturday October 17 at 10 PM

Oct 16, 2015 Web Exclusive
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It's interesting that Amy Schumer's new HBO standup special Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo (which is directed by Chris Rock) begins with Nicki Minaj's "Beez in the Trap" over a montage of the female comedian's various exploits from the past year: photo shoots, red carpet shoots, previous stand up show clips, more photo shoots. It's a song about female enterprise, particularly the reclamation of black female sexuality. The Apollo Theater has a distinguished history of African American performers, maybe most famous for Showtime at the Apollo. And although its music hall function has been inclusive to other performers outside of the African American community, there's Amy Schumer, a blonde, white female comedian.

We're lucky it's Schumer, though, a comedian whose stand up and whose sketch show Inside Amy Schumer has made a point of subverting the norm, at least as far as gender goes. She's been relatively acute in her awareness of white privilege in the past. But she's gotten flack for racist jokes as well. However, it's gender inequality and the various manifestations of sexism and misogyny women face that she's especially good at satirizing.

Her critique is particularly vicious because her delivery has an approach with a duality. She's the proud "slut" and she's the bro-y, easily accessible, freewheeling girl. She talks about the difference in beauty standards in relation to having sex between New York and Los Angeles, the diet she was asked to go for her film Trainwreck, what her vagina looks like. Her frankness with which she talks about sex, bodily function, and eating presents her audience with this perception of Schumer ascending to the man's playing field. But Schumer subverts and critiques, wonderfully unapologetically.

She's aware of the persona, though, as late in her set she talks about being labeled a "sex comic," noting that "a male comic could just get up on here and take his dick out and they'd say, 'He's a thinker!'" There's a discrepancy in the way we treat women in general and sexuality, whether it's in comedy, film, television, or anything else. While I don't think Schumer is a complete assimilationist, she does note this inequality in perspective in her typically scathingly funny tone.

She elaborates on this idea, critiquing the way society teaches pleasure: it's good for men, it's gross for women. "You're made to feel really weird and disgusting if you like to have sex," she says. And Schumer is decidedly against this paradigm.

Such an explicit point of view, and such a strong one, is something that she imbues in her comedy and her show, and that's definitely why critics, including myself, felt weird about Trainwreck, a film that rather than have its character pivot her life choices (sex, drinking, sex, drinking, sex) volitionally has them shamed out of her.

So, while she stays away from issues of race in this HBO set, she's wonderfully relentless about sex and sexism, implicitly how the dialogue around sex always serves to benefit men, and ends on the pervasiveness of rape culture and domestic abuse. Let it be known that Schumer's comedy is not only smart, it's also wildly funny. Sharply written and delivered with an acute self-awareness, it's nice to see Schumer have the stellar ascension she's been having the past year or so. Let's hope it continues to challenge the standards and rhetoric around women and comedy. (www.hbo.com/comedy/amy-schumer-live-from-the-apollo)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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