When a comedian gets to the point of playing arenas, it means something. Obviously, it indicates popularity, but it can also be evidence of a comic’s aspirations.
Regardless of exactly how many thousands of people show up to see insanely popular stand-up comedian Amy Schumer perform in Lexington this weekend, her numerous creative projects suggest a performer with ambitions that could fill Rupp Arena to the rafters three times over.
If we simply focused on her stand-up career alone, Schumer has become the hottest female comic in the country — and there really isn’t even a close second. After the New York native had a few years of experience under her belt working clubs in New York, she got a bit of TV exposure that hinted at her potential and gave her a bigger audience. First, she was a contestant and fourth-place finisher on NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2007. Later, she showcased her trademark persona as a pretty face with the potty mouth, slaying crowds and skewering her peers and the guests of honor on two Comedy Central roasts.
This ultimately led to her first stand-up special, Amy Schumer: Mostly Sex Stuff, in 2013. She would be the first to tell you that the title pretty much says it all. The way she bluntly, crudely and honestly talks about relationships and her promiscuity — along with her sexual escapades, triumphs and mishaps (often fueled by a glass of wine or seven) — made her relatable and gave her a likability among male and female audiences alike.
Although her stand-up comedy put her in front of a larger audience, it has been what she has done in TV and film that has shot her to the stratosphere. Her sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer debuted in 2013 on Comedy Central and almost instantly became one of the network’s most popular shows (the new season debuted this past week) and spawned more than a few viral videos (Check out “Milk Milk Lemonade” on YouTube when you get a chance. Warning: Not nearly as innocent as it sounds).
But the show, which won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award, had an impact not only for the laughs it got but because of the message it conveyed. You could argue that what comedian Dave Chappelle and his hit Chappelle’s Show did in making race a frequent comedic topic, Schumer’s show is doing the same for feminism, frequently highlighting the sexism and double standards that often exist in and beyond Hollywood.
Then came Trainwreck. The 2015 blockbuster comedy, which Schumer wrote and starred in under the direction of Judd Apatow, was nominated for two Golden Globes and transformed her into Hollywood’s hilarious “it” girl. Her current and pending projects will put Schumer on the big screen even more. She is currently crafting a script with one of her new super-famous friends, Kentuckian and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, and is starring in her first dramatic movie role in Thank You for Your Service, due out this year. When she’s not gracing the cover of numerous magazines (she’s currently on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair, with a provocative photo spread by Annie Leibovitz), she will be on bookshelves this summer when her memoir, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, is available this August.
But Schumer is making sure that her stand-up material remains a priority, even as she grapples with her notoriety.
“It’s like my experience now is of a normal woman, who’s 34, who’s in a relationship, and then I’m also still a pretty newly famous person, and that’s what I want to talk about onstage,” Schumer told Vanity Fair. “I want to be honest about what’s going on with me and not be like, ‘I’m still just like you!’ I don’t know. I’m trying to navigate it honestly and figure it out.”
As far as her wide-ranging career is concerned, that seems like a smart move. After all, honesty — as unflinching and vulgar as it might be in Schumer’s material — has obviously proven to be her best, and funniest, policy.