In her new Netflix special “Growing” (2019), Amy Schumer is not very funny. For many people, the comedian has never really been funny — at least with her original jokes. Her allegedly stolen jokes are hilarious, but that could be because they are, well, allegedly not written by her. Schumer’s stale comedy style is especially prevalent in “Growing.” There’s no comedic maturity here, and at some points, it’s pretty obvious that Schumer is grasping at straws to get the audience to laugh.
The first thing to note about “Growing” is that Schumer doesn’t really seem to want to be there. At one point, she mentions that she’s really only there because she’s contractually obligated and that her hyperemesis gravidarum — severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy — is the cause of her lack of excitement. Sure, it might be a joke, but it just does not stick. It sets up a feeling of Schumer being bored, like she’s done this pony show plenty of times before.
The second thing to note is that Schumer’s comedy has not grown very much. It involves many of the same variations of the same bits and brash jokes relating to her weight and sex life. While a brash Schumer might have been funny five years ago, she has plateaued as a comedian.
Schumer’s pregnancy and marriage are the main topic of the special. It’s here that Schumer presents a tinge of authenticity, but it doesn’t last long. She jokes about her husband’s autism and talks about “the signs of autism.” One could say that Schumer can certainly joke about her husband, but one could also say that there’s plenty of other material out there about which to joke. She makes crude jokes about gay husbands who are married to women. It feels a tinge homophobic and inappropriate for Schumer to joke about.
There is also plenty of Schumer’s usual empowerment-that’s-not-really-empowerment, with her discussions about women in the working world and women responding to unsolicited sexual pictures from men. It’s a lot of white feminist humor that doesn’t bode well in 2019, or ever. She jokes about physical beauty standards with the same half-baked attempt at providing an “everyone’s beautiful!” message. It’s all typical Schumer stuff, and that’s precisely the problem.
Schumer also recycles her own jokes, talking about shaving and her mom lying to her about her beauty as a child. These jokes lack energy this time around, and Schumer has a far less refined — if that’s even possible — approach to them. This isn’t to say Schumer shouldn’t be her raunchy self or that she shouldn’t flash her pregnant stomach, which she does, or go into detail about her sex life. Raunchy, verbal, disgusting humor can be the best humor, but only if the delivery is well-executed. Sadly, Schumer doesn’t do that. Instead, there’s a feeling of déjà vu, which ruins Schumer’s special, and makes “Growing” painful to watch.
There are moments in the special where Schumer thinks she’s being sincere. She gets a little serious about her husband and about the physical pains of being a woman, and while anyone might think she’s sold those moments honestly, they seem quite preachy and far too dominant during her comedy special. Those moments shouldn’t feel performative, but they do. They feel like Schumer, in her all-knowing pregnancy, is trying to give the audience a TED Talk.
“Growing” is far too forced, far too performative and feels unnatural. Schumer covers a variety of topics, from gay husbands in heterosexual relationships to emoji porn and very trite takes on women’s rights, but the material never truly feels as funny as it should. Schumer’s comedy special should be mature and focused, but it feels like a mess that Schumer just calls it quits on. For a special titled “Growing,” Schumer doesn’t seem to have done much of it.