Amy Schumer’s stand-up special “Live at the Apollo” aired on HBO last night, and as our critic Sonia Saraiya wrote in her review of the special, Schumer stuck to familiar turf, largely avoiding controversial race jokes and keeping close to the topics she has been best-known for on “Inside Amy Schumer." Here’s a look at what you can expect to see when you tune in:
Women in Hollywood
Now that she’s a Hollywood big shot and card-carrying Friend of J-Law, Schumer has lots of firsthand knowledge of the way the industry works, which she employs to very pointed and funny effect. In a particularly cutting segment, Schumer illustrates the absurdly high standards Hollywood women are held to by pointing to “Zookeeper,” which stars Rosario Dawson (“arguably the most fuckable actress ever") as a love interest for the slightly-less-fuckable Kevin James. Schumer points out that even in a movie about talking animals, easily the most implausible aspect of the film is Dawson pretending that this is a realistic pairing. “Let’s see Meryl do that, pretend like you’re dying to have Kevin James deep-dick you," Schumer challenges. "I dare you, Meryl!"
Another great bit centers on the distinction between "funny girls" and "pretty girls," as she describes how frustrated she was when a male friend met Kate Upton at a basketball game and said that she had a good sense of humor. As she riffs, slyly: “When’s her hour special coming out on HBO?"
Schumer also talks a lot about filming “Trainwreck,” which provides a way in for her to offer her observations on the bizarre eating habits of L.A. women ("my arms register as legs there... and my legs register as firewood"). At one point, she shares an anecdote about being forced to visit a personal trainer to slim down for the role, and her horrifying realization about the unrealistic lengths many women go to stay slim.
“For breakfast you’ll have a smoothie, for lunch you’ll journal about that smoothie and then put a peanut under your pillow and you hope you dream about pizza,” she says, relaying her impression of her trainer’s advice. “That’s the Hollywood secret, I found out. They don’t put food in their faces.” Alas, says Schumer, that isn’t an option for her. “I was born weighing 150, I came out swinging," she jokes, putting on a Hulk-like posture. "Give me linguine, ma!”
Schumer is unabashedly sex-positive in her act, which, she explains, has caused some to label her a “sex comic.” Schumer nails the double standard inherent in how "if a male comedian came onstage holding his penis, people would call him 'a thinker.'” That said, the act does contain plenty of talk about orgasms and vaginas, liberal use of the phrase “cum dumpster,” and a detailed description of her p*ssy as “probably the mouth of an old lounge singer, there’s like a cigarette hanging out of it, she’s doing the Charleston and scatting.” But it's not all raunchy silliness -- Schumer also makes some meaningful points, including a compelling takedown of the notion that women don't like sex as much as men.
With discussion of sex comes discussion of love, and Schumer isn’t afraid to mine her own romantic history for fodder, opening up about an alcoholic ex (it didn't work because she wanted to be "the fun one") and offering an astute metaphor to capture the overwhelming force of love in your twenties. "Remember twenties love? You're just so arrogant. You're like, ‘We're so lucky we found each other. What are all these sad songs about?” she jokes, before going on to compare twenties love to the South Asian tsunami -- an arguably un-PC comparison that still lands major laughs with the live audience.
As always, her set is full of autobiographical anecdotes, from both Schumer's current life as a big-time celeb and from her pre-fame years. While her stories about life in Hollywood are always a joy, I particularly like when Schumer delves deeper into her past and conjures up images of young Amy, lovingly recollected as "a jack o' lantern with tits” who lost her front teeth and got her period the same week of fifth grade. There's a moment of childhood nostalgia to introduce the special as well, when a bit of vintage home video footage plays and Amy, as a shy toddler, sings: "I'm Amy and it's my show." Sure, Schumer is a grown-ass woman now and one of the biggest comedy stars in the world, but in that respect, nothing has changed.