Amy Schumer, the American stand-up comic and star of Inside Amy Schumer, was greeted and farewelled with standing ovations from her Australian fans at Hamer Hall on Wednesday night.
In a country where many comedians find it hard to find commercial viability, and successful female comics are a relatively rare sight, Schumer’s sold-out performance was a sign of the local demand for bold and progressive comedy.
When tickets for the one-time show went on sale on the Arts Centre’s website, it crashed repeatedly due to unprecedented traffic. The venue was forced to issue an apology to those who were unable to score a seat.
Schumer waggishly explained her reason for doing just one show to the packed crowd, “First of all, I’m making 5 million dollars tonight.”
But her real reason for squeezing in a stand-up performance during the hectic Australian press-tour for her new movie, Trainwreck, was evident from the moment she stepped on stage – you could feel the real joy she has in performing surprising and challenging comedy – and it was this that got the crowd on their feet, twice.
Schumer was opened for by local comedian Troy Kinne, probably best known for his stint on The Search for Australia’s Funniest Man.
Kinne drew laughs, but his ‘a-woman-gave-me-a-bikini-wax’ and ‘mum-always-called-me-too early-for-dinner’ jokes were a stark contrast to Schumer’s more modern material.
It was a reminder of the outdated nature of much of Australia’s stand-up.
The birthdates of most Australia’s popular comedians are circa early ‘60s. This isn’t a problem in itself, but it seems that when Australian humour is daring, it’s only because it’s upsetting people, like when Ray Badran told a woman ‘to die’ after she protested against a rape joke he made at the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Otherwise, they’re playing it safe like the reliable but extremely unadventurous Wil Anderson.
Fearless crassness has earned many comedians their stripes in the past, but Schumer takes this and puts a layer on top of it. Her work is highly satirical of the status quo for women who are in comedy or in the spotlight in general. Her own experiences as someone who doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood mold spawn a lot of her material.
Schumer has said that she’s often been described as a ‘sex comic’, but she finds this unfair. As far as blue humor and sex content goes, she’s probably on par with comedians like Louis C.K or Daniel Tosh, neither whom are labeled as sex comics.
The media does Schumer other disservices as well. At the moment there are reviews of her show going around with phrases like ‘a girls’ night out’ in the headlines. But this was a show with mass appeal where both men and women shouted names for sex positions from the audience for Schumer to dissect.
Those who were lucky enough to make the performance were an even mix of male and female, mainly young professionals – a reflection of the cross-gender appeal and success in the coveted 18-34 year old bracket that has made Inside Amy Schumer one of Comedy Centrals most successful shows.
It’s a shame Schumer couldn’t share her brand of exuberant and self-possessed comedy with Melbourne for more than an hour and a half. As she said her goodbyes to the tune of her viral hit ‘Milk Milk Lemonade’, it was a reminder of how well rounded she is: a writer, now an actress, with impeccable stand-up skills to boot.
So don’t be fooled into thinking Schumer is a just a dirty mouthed comic or a ‘women’s comic’ because the truth is she’s much more than that.