(Countless films and TV series now arrive unheralded on streaming services, leaving viewers seeking something fresh and good to sort through it all. Raju Mudhar’s column Upstream samples the services’ original offerings, looking for things to recommend.)
Amy Schumer: Growing
Amy Schumer’s latest standup-comedy offering is a lot like checking in on a friend you haven’t seen in a while. That perennially single friend is now happily married, going through a tough pregnancy, but still is as raunchy as ever.
Recorded late last year in Chicago, this hour-long special (arriving on Netflix on March 19) is a bit uneven, but there’s plenty for any comedy fan to enjoy — although if you have procreated, there’s definitely a little more for you to share in.
“If you are someone who enjoyed being pregnant, I hope your car flips over,” the American comedian says at one point. Schumer is suffering from hyperemesis, which is morning sickness on steroids that she says means “I throw up an Exorcist amount every day.”
She’s not as cutting at Ali Wong, her trailblazing predecessor as a heavy-with-child standup, but Schumer does pregnancy material in her own style, and does a good job turning common stereotypes and clichés on their head. Her comfort and skill with the audience is evident — it’s not easy to make a packed theatre have the feeling and intimacy of a no-holds-barred chat with a girlfriend to it, but she pulls it off with aplomb. She mines topics that she’s worked through before, like being a bigger woman in a stick-figure world and coming to terms with her body — there is an extended visit to her nether regions — and offers some good topical comedy about the state of men and women.
“I hope it’s a girl. Because it’s such a scary time for men. Thank you so much for leaving your house tonight,” she says.
I wish there were a little more of that, but this is really more of a personal set — a chance for viewers to catch up with the standup and movie star’s life generally.
Schumer’s breakthrough special in 2012 was aptly titled Mostly Sex Stuff, and there’s still some of that — mostly about her satisfaction to be done with single life — but the personal life that’s still her primary topic is undergoing big changes. Rather than skewering random dudes and awful dates, she now uses her husband as fodder for her jokes and while there are some classic Schumer moments, like a great sex-position bit near the end, what also comes through is that she’s happy in this next phase of life. Growing is a great check-in on one of the world’s biggest female comedians. It’s nice to see her doing well.
Comedians of the World: Canadian edition
As recent controversies about Just For Laughs demonstrate just how hard it is out there for funny people to make a living, streaming services are places where you can watch globally, but also laugh locally. That’s part of the premise behind Comedians of the World, which launched on New Year’s Day on Netflix by dropping 47 specials from 13 different regions, including four half-hours from Canadians.
For those who didn’t pounce on these offerings on Jan. 1, here’s a quick rundown of these Canuck jokesters.
This slick, sharply delivered West Coaster kicks off this special with a riff about lobsters — underwater scissors, he calls them — and goes on an extended riff about fast food, what “convenience” really means and a very clever joke about horsepower.
This starts off a little messy, but he’s high energy and very likeable. There are some good moments and immigrant-family bits, but the entire thing could be a little smoother.
Often seen her around town, and she’s a delightful comic whose clever material and sunny delivery definitely tag her as one to watch. She makes fun of the fact that she ticks off the boxes you expect (lesbian, vegan), but her everyday stories (like how much she loves her pet chihuahua, being middle aged) will resonate with a broader audience.
K. Trevor Wilson
Best known as Dan on Letterkenny, the latest offering from this super-deadpan standup starts off with a look at pet parents morphs into a half-hour examination of all things scatological. There are some good moments — a monkey-tiger poo fight sticks out — but your mileage may vary.