27th Nov2015

‘Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo’ Review

by Phil Wheat


Following a stellar year, including an Emmy win for her sketch series Inside Amy Schumer and a box office smash, Trainwreck, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo features Schumer in her first HBO stand-up special directed non-other than by award-winning comedian/writer/actor/director Chris Rock.

Taped before a live audience at New York’s iconic Apollo Theater, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo had one hell of a reputation to uphold, after all Schumer’s previous one-hour stand-up special, Mostly Sex Stuff, still stands as the highest-rated Comedy Central original stand-up special since 2011. Thankfully Schmuer comes out of the gate fighting – from the get-go her jokes are on point, swiftly testing the limits of comedy by delivering hilarious and shocking jokes along with off-kilter observations keeping the audience, and viewers, on their toes and in hysterics.

Yet hidden in those gross-out laughs and cutting edge jokes, Schumer actually has a lot to say on subjects such as relationships, sex, the cult of celebrity, growing old… but then she hits on more subversive topics like vanity in Hollywood, ignorance in America and sexual inequality. It’s that ability to switch between “light anf fluffy” jokes to the more serious, often hard-hitting comedy, which is Schumer’s greatest asset. She can go for the cheap laughs, which she does on occassion here, but she also can also hit home with topics that often go undiscussed.

And whilst a lot of the jokes in Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo do fall into her usual routine of focusing on sex, she does it from what many would say is a very “male”, crude joke perspective – for example the amount of times she discusses cum is quite ridiculous and no doubt completly intentional. It’s her use of language typically found in male stand-up routines that allows Schumer to confront the audience, challenging their pre-conceptions; which she clearly does here from the very beginning, starting with the fact that – even though this is a special filmed in the Apollo Theatre in Harlem – the audience is mainly white, and no-doubt middle class!

If some of the routine does go for the cheap laugh, where Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo does shine is in Schumer’s jokes about herself, in particular her latest movie Trainwreck,  explaining how she was given the lead role under the caveat of losing weight with a personal trainer; meanwhile actors like Kevin James are the “sexy studs” of their movies – and her diatribe on how Rosario Dawson is totally wasted as James’ doting unrequited love interest in Zookeeper is truly inspired…

Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo is available now on Digital HD. It’s released on DVD, in an extended edition, on November 30th.


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