Amy Schumer isn’t just a star. She’s a blindingly bright nova streaking through every pop-culture subset out there — TV, movies, publishing, social media and now, a return to stand-up touring. This time around, she’s playing not basement comedy clubs, but arenas, including Target Center in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Schumer’s book “The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo,” for which she was reportedly paid at least $8 million, comes out in August. The fourth season of her Emmy- and Peabody-winning Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” premieres this week. She wrote and starred in the summer 2015 hit movie “Trainwreck” with director Judd Apatow and just finished co-writing a script with Jennifer Lawrence.
This kind of meteoric rise has seldom been experienced by any stand-up comic, let alone a woman in a male-dominated field. Why does Schumer reign supreme?
She’s not afraid to go there. No matter how vulgar, taboo or previously untrod the territory, Schumer sallies forth with descriptions of her sexual encounters, less-than-pristine underwear and a fearlessly scatological music video about the obsession with women’s butts. (Sample lyric: “Milk, milk, lemonade/’round the corner fudge is made.”) She has the ability to shock unshockable audiences, or at least make them titter nervously.
She’s so darn likable. Women in their 20s and 30s recognize themselves in her funny/tragic hookup stories. (“Nothing good ever happens in a blackout. I’ve never woken up and been like, ‘What is this Pilates mat doing out?’ ”) Women of all ages want to be her for a night. And guys like her, too.
“She’s real, she’s hilarious, she’s unafraid to be herself,” said fan Emily Johnson, who is going to the show with her boyfriend. “We love having a comedian in common to laugh at.”
Minneapolis comedy club tastemaker Louis Lee admires her authenticity.
“She’s so comfortable in her own skin and not afraid to express it,” said Lee, owner of Acme Comedy Club, where Schumer last appeared in 2013 doing a podcast with Doug Benson. “When you see her, you relate to her, men and women of all ages.”
She ingeniously skewers cultural norms. Schumer is at her best when poking holes in popular media’s lopsided expectations of women. From her HBO special: “In L.A., my arms register as legs. And my legs register as firewood.” In one brilliant sketch from her show called “Last F---able Day,” Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Patricia Arquette explain how actresses have sell-by dates in Hollywood. In another, a star-studded spoof of the classic film “12 Angry Men,” an all-male jury debates whether she’s hot enough to be on TV. “I don’t think she’s protagonist hot,” says Kevin Kane. “But Kevin James is?” shoots back John Hawkes.
A-listers love her. Scheduled for guest spots among dozens of others on her show this season are Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Bourdain and even “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda, for whom Amy, in a promo, demos her own Broadway musical based on Betsy Ross.
She’s got the look. If you don’t look like Amy, you’ve got a good friend who does. She’s the all-American girl in a short, tight skirt, with a bod that doesn’t scream emaciation, someone at home at a small-town fair or a big-city bar, strutting her stuff or doing the walk of shame. But above all, it’s her personal mantra on attractiveness: “I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will.” She recently called out Glamour magazine for calling her “plus-size,” tweeting “we are done with these unnecessary labels that seem to be reserved for women.”
She’s coated in troll-proof Teflon. Schumer gets eviscerated by online trolls, whom she blithely ignores or steamrolls over with her own social-media troops. She’s also survived accusations of joke stealing and casual racism in her humor with barely a scratch.
Her market-saturating streak can’t last forever, but is she in danger of burning out?
“You never know in this business,” said Acme’s Lee. “It’s what you’re going to do tomorrow, the next movie, the next show. But right now she’s the hottest female comic there is.”
Or maybe the hottest comic, period.