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Friday, Feb. 14, 2014

Recap: Amy Schumer Leans On Crowd Work at the Riverside Theater

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Photo credit: Sara Bill
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With a pair of unforgettably strong Comedy Central Roast appearances, more than a decade logged in comedy clubs spread throughout all corners of the country as well as a pair of rock solid and fearlessly filthy specials, Amy Schumer has established herself as the princess—if not queen—of genitalia jokes. Recently, the brassy comic’s reign has included being the star and namesake of “Inside Amy Schumer” and playing progressively bigger theaters.

Not a year removed her hilarious Pabst Theater appearance and just over a month before the her season two premiere, Schumer filled the Riverside Theater with rowdy fans prepared for a set that reflected her still-rising comedic star during her “Back Door Tour.” Though there was no shortage of the trademark crass crotch commentary that landed her a TV show, the execution and crowd reliance seemed to be that of a comedian whose focus has been squarely on said show since her last stop in Milwaukee.

Following an approximately 10-minute season two “Inside Amy” reel and clip (with a Paul Giamatti cameo in the role of God), opener Mark Norman started the night strong with sharp off-kilter witticisms pointed at race and sexuality. After half an hour of laughs, Schumer stormed confidently on stage, screaming “Get up, get up!” with false bravado before thanking the enthused and upright audience for the impromptu ovation.

Marveling at the increase in venue size since her last Milwaukee stop, Schumer peered into the stage right balcony, expecting to see “the old guys from The Muppets up there.” While the theater was different, a handful of jokes were the same as 11 months ago, including an early bit about porn made from the woman’s view.

However, her growing popularity spawned hit-and-miss bits wherein she reminisced staying in bad motels with “B.Y.O. towel” policies and “sheets that cut you” before paralleling it with the obnoxious swankiness and unmatched clientele beauty she’d experienced at The W Hotel in Miami. “Naked, I look like the cast of Girls stapled together,” she said, before settling into her sexualized self-deprecation comfort zone the majority of her set.

At times, that fixation served her well, including reference to her body issues, like, “People ask me, Amy, how do you keep it right at disappointing?” and her new diet of asking to get dressing on the side, but ordering nine dressings. Other times, meanderings seemed half-hatched, like a promising-but-incomplete Dove Soap “real women” ad riff and period jokes lacking in exclamation points.

Just as she seemed to be hitting her stride with incredibly graphic, brutally honest and altogether crowd-pleasing stories of her dating exploits at 32 and confusion of pregnancy test symbols, the same crowd she was trying to please was handed the spotlight by the paid entertainer, leading to a 20-plus minutes of annoying and largely incomprehensible audience-supplied fodder. In possible aversion to bringing 55 new minutes to a 75-minute set, Schumer sought the names and descriptions of sex acts like “Dutch Rudder” and “Blumpkin” from the mass of vocal participants. The outsourcing continued when she made the fatal flaw of asking if anyone had questions before seeking jokes requests.

When the slurred vulgarities dissipated, Schumer reprised her famed “Connecticuit Friends” joke and called it a night. Even when she’s off, Schumer is still very funny. There’s little doubt this season of “Inside Amy Schumer” will be even better than the first, since it seemed like the glut of her best new material is shelved until the April 1 premiere.