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Amy Schumer and other women are now on comedy’s cutting edge

‘‘I’m labeled a sex comic,” Amy Schumer says ruefully toward the end of Saturday’s hilarious “Live at the Apollo” on HBO.

Just let a male comic, though, practically expose himself at the microphone and, to those in the “labeling” racket, “he’s a thinker.”

So says Amy who, just for that tiny little second, has no interest in being funny.

I wouldn’t dream of labeling Schumer a “sex comic.” But she’s no fool. She knows exactly how raunchy is her material and how full it is of a “sex-positive” young woman’s wild and free take on sexuality. She also knows how groundbreaking and successful she has been as the standard bearer for the female comic generation A.J. (After Joan – Rivers, that is).

Her film “Trainwreck” earned $178 million at the box office. She won an Emmy for her sketch show “Inside Amy Schumer.” And she just signed an $8 million book contract for her memoirs.

As viewers of her HBO special will see, she is going to comedy places Joan Rivers wouldn’t have dreamed of going. I have no doubt that somewhere in the great beyond, Rivers is applauding for Schumer and cheering her on until she’s hoarse. So too are those senior comic actresses who came together for the Schumer show’s viral and wickedly funny sketch about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ last birthday party as a sexually viable Hollywood commodity.

Schumer tells us she was a girl who got her period at the exact same time as her two front baby teeth fell out – the one whose mother’s instructions on where girls shave their legs were not entirely applicable in her case.

There’s a Benicio Del Toro joke in there too. It’s hilarious – so much so he’d even think so.

Let’s not forget the line about someone like her going to Hollywood and discovering the place where every beautiful young woman from every city – even Buffalo – convenes to make life intimidating to the Amy Schumers of the world.

The hard-drinking, promiscuous, party-down young female persona she presents to the world tells us that when she’s asked how many drinks she has in a week, is likely to answer a frank “36.” She also confides how very much she likes food (“I was born weighing 150”) and does a long bit about having a UTI (urinary tract infection) which makes her embarrassed to order cranberry juice in a restaurant.

Lest anyone think that makes Schumer’s assault on her audience’s squeamishness too much for her own good, understand that Lena Dunham (“Girls”) just spent a chunk of her segment on Thursday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Show” talking to the host about the different details of treating UTIs in Tokyo and Berlin.

What these two comics are doing is being funny. But they’re not kidding. They saw the gender doors Rivers flung open to dicey female subject matter and they’re charging through to places audiences aren’t used to going. That’s the point. Schumer is the leading cutting edge of American stand-up comedy.

The old rules about men in comedy no longer apply. Anyone who doubted that should have watched “NBC Dateline” on Friday night for its scheduled report on the women who have accused Bill Cosby. Things are topsy turvy.

The place that men once held in American comedy when, say, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were rewriting the rules is now being taken by women – none more than Schumer.

“Live at the Apollo” is still wildly funny on the cutting edge. It falls down a wee bit in the middle but after its bravura opening 20 minutes, it regains its grip at the end. I’ve not laughed harder at anything on television all year.

To see what Jeff Simon thinks of the new season of “American Horror Story” and “Fargo,” visit email:

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