COMEDY SPECIAL "Amy Schumer Growing"
WHEN | WHERE Streaming now on Netflix
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Amy Schumer taped this show — her second for Netflix — at the landmark Chicago Theatre in December. Topics include her pregnancy, recent marriage, current affairs and sex. It's raw — very raw — so not for everyone.
MY SAY A lot has happened to Rockville Centre-raised Schumer in between Netflix concerts, as their respective titles indicate. The 2017 “Leather Special” featured her in a patent leather black jumpsuit. With a little imagination — or matching mask — she could’ve easily morphed into Batwoman.
On ”Growing,” she’s wearing a dark maternity swing dress — stylish, sure, but also functional, practical and (to use another word that's rarely, possibly never, associated with her) sensible. This also works as a prop when she hikes it up at one point to reveal that bump and a swollen belly button she has covered with a couple of bandages.
So add one more word: It's serviceable.
Amy does as Amy is, and what’s she’s done in the intervening years is get married and get pregnant. Per "Growing," both have been fulfilling and complicated. As intended, they also lend extra meaning to the title. She's grown since 2017, and that's complicated, too.
In fact, "Growing" feels a little like a show that's been engineered to manage fan expectations, or literally stage-manage them, as if to say, this is the new Amy Schumer who's a lot like the old Amy Schumer but new nonetheless. Approaching 40 (she's 37) and motherhood, some evolution is expected and probably necessary. But the transition can't be easy — especially for Schumer.
Consider all the baggage, which a recent New York Times profile did. She's heard (and how) from some disaffected fans who were confused — or felt betrayed — by an earlier iteration of her comic self that has since been deemed racially insensitive. She found herself on the wrong side of the #MeToo revolution when she supported one of her accused male writers from "Inside Amy Schumer." She's still trying to get people to believe that the "Lemonade" video from 2016 was a tribute to Beyoncé, and not a spoof, or appropriation. Even the Times piece had to run a correction that said it had "mischaracterized" the video in an earlier version of the story.
"Growing" ignores this part of her recent past, perhaps out of necessity. She's moved on, she seems to be insisting, even if the disaffected haven't.
There are almost two shows in one here, both yoked together at the halfway mark. The more familiar Schumer arrives in the second half: Raunchy, topical, political. A familial Schumer turns up in the first half.
Unsurprisingly, she's less sure-footed over this stretch. There are riffs about pregnancy and drinking, and pregnancy and sex, and pregnancy and Meghan Markle. Change the name of the princess and you could almost imagine Midge Maisel working some of the same material.
She talks about her well-documented struggle with hyperemesis — severe nausea ("I throw up an exorcist amount everyday") and about husband, Chris Fischer, who is a chef. ("I married a chef because I'm a [expletive] genius!") She says he's on the autism spectrum — while carefully and accurately discarding the old Asperger's label — then explains that "once he was diagnosed, it dawned on me [that] all the characteristics are all the reasons I fell madly in love with him."
True love finds Amy Schumer? You heard on "Growing" first.
The flamethrower arrives in the second half. She torches a couple of senators, a new Supreme Court justice, the NFL — the usual suspects — then gets right to heart of what she does best and always will.
"One in three women will be assaulted" in their lifetime, she says. "I know how scared we are as women all the time," then adds that when she takes the subway at night then gets off at her local station, "I will run home."
Picturing Schumer on the F train may require a creative leap, but the point is important and the follow-up joke is one of the better ones of the entire special.
It's also a fleeting reminder that Schumer — married or single, in Bat suit or maternity dress — was one of the most influential comics in the world not all that long ago. In moments like this, she almost still is.
BOTTOM LINE Mostly solid material that yokes the old Schumer with the new.