Amy Schumer is putting in the work. That’s not an appraisal of how hectic she is, though it could be; from the look of her CV, her days are loaded. Schumer acts in films (2015’s Trainwreck, which she also composed, 2017’s Snatched and this year’s I Feel Pretty); composes books (her 2016 memoir The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo topped The New York Times best-seller list); has a hit sketch comedy television show (Funny Central’s Within Amy Schumer, presently on hiatus); acts on Broadway (her performance in Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower made her a Tony election); and maintains a strenuous stand-up touring schedule, one that brings her to the Cosmopolitan for a two-date mini residency August 10 and 11 (with two more programs on November 2 and 3).
However there’s keeping hectic, and after that there’s doing the work. And Amy Schumer, feminist, humorist and straight-out firebrand, fully devotes to her craft, even when it makes more work for her on the back end. The danger of saying whatever you need to state– about sexual harassment, about gender inequality, about body image– is that you’ll take flak for it, from within your fanbase and from without. Liberal audiences implicate Schumer of muddling the message at the expenditure of making filthy jokes (Los Angeles Times critic Lorraine Ali called Schumer’s career a “inebriated walk of pity toward world domination”), while misogynist trolls make every effort to shut her down entirely. (Most recently, they installed a project to sabotage Schumer’s latest Netflix unique with one-star reviews.)
Through all of it, Schumer keeps pushing forward. It’s tempting to think that being provocative is just a family characteristic (she’s a cousin of Senator Chuck Schumer), however if you’ve ever fallen down a bunny hole watching YouTube clips from Within Amy Schumer, it quickly ends up being evident she’s only playing the bad cards she’s been dealt and using them to bluff the haters. In one clip, she reacts to a sexting query of “What do you desire me to do to you?” with “Tell me I’m safe in my house.” In another, Schumer pleads with God (Paul Giamatti) to eliminate her herpes by destroying a village in Uzbekistan; the deal falls apart when God informs her she’ll need to stop drinking and call her mom regularly. And in a note-perfect parody of Sidney Lumet’s 1957 timeless 12 Angry Guys, an all-star cast, including Jeff Goldblum and Kumail Nanjiani, dispute whether Schumer is appealing enough to be on television.
Schumer’s comedy isn’t really for everybody, but everybody who values a truth-teller needs to appreciate it. “When a nude photo of yourself goes viral, the word you do not want individuals to use to explain it is ‘brave’,” she stated recently. Real enough. That word must explain exactly what Amy Schumer does onstage, right along with the words “humorous” and “real.”
AMY SCHUMER with Rachel Feinstein, Mia Jackson. August 10-11 & & November 2-3, 8 p.m., $59-$199. The Chelsea, 702-698-7475.