HBO comedy specials don’t come around every week — they are reserved for comedy elite. Wanda Sykes, Robin Williams and George Lopez are just a few off the list. It’s arguable that Amy Schumer is one of the youngest comics, career-wise, to land herself such an event. Nonetheless, Schumer belongs on that prestigious stage. In 2015 alone, she has earned an Emmy for “Inside Amy Schumer,” written and starred in the box office hit “Trainwreck” and hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time, all the while cementing herself as one of Hollywood’s most relatable and unapologetic comedic forces.
Schumer struts out to “Beez in the Trap” by Nicki Minaj handling an entire bottle of wine and screams, “Get the fuck up, Apollo!” only to then say, “No, thank you! I would never ask you to stand!” Without a doubt, it’s a funny bit, but also rough around the edges in the way that Schumer’s brutally honest, sometimes rambling comedic style is.
She goes about body image in a way that I have never seen before. Too often, female comics rip on themselves for the sake of laughs, but Schumer rips on the people who rip on her body type. She hates on Los Angeles, claiming that her “arms register as legs” and her “legs register as firewood.” Her delivery is spot on, capturing the slight awkwardness of being a non-model in Hollywood. Even more important is her confident lead-in that she can “catch a D” anytime in New York City.
The section in which she discusses her experience making “Trainwreck” is especially funny if you’ve seen the movie. She thought that the producers would cast a Blake Lively type for the role — and once she got the role, she would have to “stop eating” because it’s a myth that food is necessary to live. She admits to having 36 drinks a week to her trainer to be “honest for the fuck of it,” which is met by roaring applause. However, the height of the bit came from the comparison of her trainer stopping her drinking to teaching Helen Keller how to read.
Schumer’s “real girl” persona allows her to say the things that everyone is thinking, but won’t say. Because she deftly picks herself apart to a degree that we allow her express herself without fear of being turned on, but she doesn’t do it so far as to be labeled a self-hating comedian.
Ultimately, she reveals her comedic prowess in the most natural way — an unplanned bit provoked by audience interaction. Schumer discusses how there are no Urban Dictionary-esque sex acts “for the girl.” An audience member screams “The Angry Dragon.” She then comments on the guy’s girlfriend’s embarrassment — turns out it’s his mom (which isn’t surprising, considering the kid looked 12). Amy takes a pull from her Chardonnay and exclaims “This is totally your fault, Mom! Let’s find out the story of how you were born.” Finally, he explains the act (while miming it out) and Schumer says “I think you’re grounded.”
Not all of her material is original to this special. We heard bits in her speech at the Glamour Awards and in her shrunken set in “Women Who Kill” on Netflix. However, after 11 years as a comic, it’s odd that Schumer is best known for mini speeches, a skit TV show and a feature film. “Live at the Apollo” brings her styles together into a complete showing of her comedic range in a stand up form — a form in which she flourishes.