A Tonally Inconsistent Routine
Comedy is a subjective art-form. What one person finds funny, another person finds forced or cringe-inducing which really is part of the allure with stand-up comedy. When it comes to Amy Schumer, there’s no denying the woman has a distinct following but also a whole lot of haters. Amy’s latest stand-up effort Growing is her attempt to prove the doubters wrong and show she can deliver the goods, pregnancy and all. Unfortunately, she doesn’t.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that while most stand-up comedies do feel very organic and witty, there are distinct rules that most comics adhere to. More specifically, nailing the timing and punchline for each joke. With that in mind, Growing feels constantly at odds with itself, unsure of what sort of crowd it wants to attract and at times, even losing the audience, as she weaves a convoluted mix of heartfelt stories, vulgar punch lines and forced accents. The result is a stand-up that feels tonally inconsistent and lacks a coherent structure and rhythm making it feel longer to watch than it actually is.
The stand-up itself begins with Amy talking about pregnancy. Now sporting a massive baby bump, she goes on to discuss the trials and tribulations of being pregnant, interspersed with vulgar jokes and rhetorical questions for the crowd to keep them on board. From here, Amy then blends a mix of self-entitled flaunting with vulnerable, heart-felt stories of her life as she moves from pregnancy across to relationships. Here, she throws in numerous movie references, over-acting some of the clichéd scenes seen in movies to exaggerate her points.
Admittedly it’s not all bad though and one pretty funny joke here absolutely nails both the timing and punch-line. All of this involves a painting her husband drew. It’s a rare moment of comedy gold and I just wish the rest of the stand-up was as consistent and confident as this segment. Sadly it never really reaches that same standard again. From here, the routine breaks down a little, fluttering between high school relationships, a long segment about periods, masculinity and then back to pregnancy and motherhood.
Given the material being discussed, Growing feels specifically geared toward women. More specifically, women who are comfortable with this level of vulgarity and have been a fan of her previous work. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but as a comedy special broadcast to millions of people around the world, a lot of people just won’t take to this style of comedy and will wind up pretty disappointed with the incoherent structure of the routine.
Standing in front of an audience and performing for thousands of people is not easy. Trust me, I’ve been there. Having said that, there’s a certain amount of routine that goes with the territory that means you feel more comfortable the longer you do it. With this in mind, it seems really odd that Amy’s stand-up features pauses all the way through the routine.
These silent moments linger a little too long and it just further illustrates the inconsistency with a lot of the comedy here. To make up for the lukewarm reaction from the live audience, Amy gets the crowd involved with clapping, cheering and a collective yes or no but it just doesn’t feel like enough to save this one. Unfortunately Growing is not a good stand-up routine. Nor is it particularly funny. What we’re left with then is a stand-up that a few people will love but many will inevitably hate.