Comedian Amy Schumer needs no introduction. You already watch her sketch show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” now in its fourth season on Comedy Central. You went to see her movie “Trainwreck” in theaters last summer, and streamed it on your couch last weekend. You rewatch her “Live at the Apollo” HBO special every time you need to remember that line you loved. Come August, you’ll buy and read her book, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo,” and lend it out to friends who will never give it back.
We gush about her insightful commentary on all the isms – feminism, ageism, sexism, racism – giving her both comedic and academic validation for having such an integrated conversation. She’s Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and George Carlin in one package.
Saturday night, before a near-capacity house in First Niagara Center, Schumer came in and stayed awhile, practically kicking her shoes off and topping off a bottle of white.
Comedian Mark Normand offered the kind of support set that Schumer would seem to eschew, but actually subverts. His bits comparing gender roles were OK but not so fresh. The bar has been raised.
It’s only when our headliner riffs on the comedian’s ubiquitous toolbox – dating, idiots, dating idiots – that we listen so intently. Watching Schumer is like being reminded you’re just a little dumb, but also smart for realizing that you’re dumb. No one is safe and everyone is safe. How does she do that?
After exploding up the stage stairs and jumping around as if on a party bus, dressed nicely for a night out, she spent much of her act trying to brush off her self-admitted juvenile habits while simultaneously owning her right to have them.
Her boyfriend played a central role in her material, of course. He’s a furniture designer from the Midwest, a reported “normal guy.” They met on a dating app that she said ironically came with a discouraging lifetime membership. Her impression of his comical mother’s Midwestern accent landed well in this Rust Belt room, describing her as being as excitable as a just-called contestant on “The Price Is Right.” Schumer knows her way around a humorously exaggerated accent. A well-played anecdote about idiotic “Family Feud” answers followed.
Her material on female and male bodily functions was great – raunchy, elementary and entirely unprintable, but also acceptably wholesome. She approaches sexual education the way my high school health teacher did – with “medical/technical” terms, that explain instead of ridicule. Her best political sketches point the same clinical finger at our country’s unruly white male leadership; your restrictive and oppressive beliefs are impossible, she implies.
Schumer earned her audience’s contagious applause with these bits, much as she does so cleverly on her show, by speaking clinically about life’s grossest and most absurd realities.
It’s as if by dissecting the comedy in our tragedy we can build a better version together. When we wake up from our nap, that is. Standup is only one experiment in her laboratory.
I’ve always found her sketch comedy far superior to her standup, with its subversive commentary and urbane wit.
Onstage, she’s just as sharp, but far more relaxed, as if a laboratory for her sketch concepts. (An explicit no-cellphones rule was strictly enforced throughout the evening, suggesting that her current material may be on lockdown.)
Be that as it may, she’s at her most universal on the standup stage, speaking in colloquialisms and seeking validation from fans.
She’s still one of us, don’t worry. And more impressively, we’re also just like her.