Amy Schumer has always been able to make just about anything funny, without necessarily turning it into a joke.
From lady parts, sex and sexism to sickness, self-image and dysfunctional family dynamics, all was fair fodder for her blunt, ribald and frequently hilarious stand-up, the themes of which translated handily into her Emmy-winning Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, which ran for four seasons.
Schumer's voice felt like a vital addition to the comedy landscape and, while she was hardly the first female comic to fearlessly go there (wherever there was), the timing was just so that her success perhaps helped remind the world that a parade of funny ladies were killing it in the comedy world and deserved far more attention than they were getting.
And then, amid all the accolades and her ascendancy to the A-list, her Golden Globe nomination and bestselling memoir, her winning smoky eye and friendship with Jennifer Lawrence, the nitpicking began.
No one who's successful, male or female, gets to live life sans haters, but on the coattails of all the odes to Amy rode in the backlash. Ironically, it seemed to coincide with her getting into a serious relationship, not exactly a warm congratulations to someone who had found love.
But maybe fans just worried that Schumer, happily coupled, wouldn't be Schumer anymore. And not that she was ever one to outwardly given any effs, maybe she even wondered at some point if that might be the case, too.
2017's Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, her first stand-up special for Netflix and a relatively boring retread of familiar-sounding graphic sex jokes and various laments, didn't assuage any concerns that perhaps the era of Amy had ended already. Snatched, her big-screen follow-up to the blockbuster Trainwreck, was a disappointment. And then I Feel Pretty, which was quite funny, got hammered with criticism before it even came out from people who took its conceit—woman becomes fearless once she believes in her mind that she looks like a supermodel—way too hard.
But I Feel Pretty showed that Schumer still had plenty to say about issues most women are familiar with—self-esteem, body image, being taken seriously in the workplace, the nuances of female friendships and, ultimately, how to be happy being yourself—and like a singer who doesn't actually have to be in the throes of the emotion that influenced a song to still sing it effectively, so Schumer eventually put to rest any concerns that her humor wasn't coming from an authentic place.
Incidentally, between making Snatched and making I Feel Pretty, her relationship with Ben Hanisch ended, the confirmation coming in May 2017 just two weeks after she said on The Howard Stern Show that they weren't "in talks" with regard to marriage.
Maybe saying it out loud shook something loose about what she really wanted, because barely nine months later, she was married to Chris Fischer, a chef from New England and brother of her personal assistant.
"I'm getting married on Tuesday. I hope you can come," read the invitation text she sent to guests, including Lawrence, Larry David and Judd Apatow. Her sister and producing partner Kim Caramele was her matron of honor, and dad Gordon Schumer was there to see her say her I-dos.
After more than one Instagram post poking fun at the celebrity-Instagram-announcement trope, Schumer revealed in October that she was, in fact, pregnant. It wasn't a far cry from the trope, but she did lead followers on a little civic-minded scavenger hunt, writing on her own page, "About to announce some exciting news on @jessicayellin insta page. Please follow her for up to the minute #newsnotnoise she breaks down what's really going on. She agreed to post a lil noise today for me! Follow her and VOTE!!"
So, the personal life was all going great, as Schumer relayed earlier in 2018 as she did press for I Feel Pretty as a beaming, sardonic newlywed, but what sort of turn was her comedy going to take amid all this domestic bliss?
Well, if anyone worried that getting married, and then getting pregnant, would water Schumer down... oh, good lord, no.
Instead, Schumer brought pregnancy and marriage along for the ride—and yes, her unsparing observations reach all the way inside her own uterus.
Her new Netflix special, Growing, premiered this week and, to be expected, no bodily function goes unaddressed and pregnancy culture gets its just deserts, whether it's bump-watch ("I was well into my second trimester—not one f--king rumor about me"), the obnoxious questions, the physical consequences that aren't as frequently discussed (she shows off what she's talking about) and, in her case, the unreasonable expectations that go with being on the same pregnancy timeline as Meghan Markle (a coincidence that she has made sure, via social media, that no one has missed).
Schumer touches on politics (including how she was detained last year while protesting Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation) and the #MeToo movement in Growing, which she filmed in December at the Chicago Theatre, and her usual brand of self-deprecation is out in full force. But the big headline has been her revelation that her husband has autism spectrum disorder—and that some of the ways in which that manifests are the qualities she loves most about him. (The inability to lie to her is definitely a plus, though not being able to lie for her has its downside.)
That very personal reveal might sound shocking at first, even for her, not to mention there was the initial reaction of "wait, is she being serious?" But the overwhelming response, most importantly from those who have a loved one on the spectrum, work with them or are on the spectrum themselves, has been positive—in that, the more anecdotes serving to destigmatize what that condition means, the merrier.
"When she talks about her husband's brain 'being a little different than mine'—my husband said that the first day he met me," Chicagoan Jennifer Karum, who is on the spectrum, told the Chicago Tribune in response to Schumer's special.
"He said, 'You know, when we first sat down and had lunch, you were an open book. You told me everything.' And I was like, 'Oh God, I'm sorry.' And he's like, 'No, I appreciated it.'"
Said Julie Tracy, co-founder of Urban Autism Solutions, "It's a great thing. I think it can only increase awareness. I think it might increase empathy and just the ability to recognize that others might be struggling with things that [you're] not struggling with."
"I think a lot of people resist getting diagnosed and even with some of their children because of the stigma that comes along with it, but you're not just diagnosed and then they throw you out," Schumer explained on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday (after walking out with a prosthetic mega-bump attached to her regular belly). "Hopefully, if you can get help, the tools that we've been given have made his life so much better and our marriage and our life more manageable and so, I just wanted to encourage people to not be afraid of that stigma."
Schumer also clarified, lest anything think she was trying to speak for everybody, "His life and his trajectory—that's not like everybody on the spectrum, but that's our story. He's an amazing guy. I don't want to make it sound like, 'I'm so nice that I married someone with autism.' I fell in love with him and I wouldn't trade him in for anybody."
Stories about Fischer are among the highlights of Growing, including her recollection of how she first found out that his brain, as she put it, "was a little different" from hers. It's very much a love story.
And including that detail in her act felt organic to who Schumer is as a performer, someone who enjoys the art of the shock while also having a point. It's yet another serious topic that affects all sorts of people and which she has found the humor in, along with no-less pressing subject matter such as reality TV, body hair (hers and her mother's) and locker room nudity.
When Schumer headed back out on the road last year (now in her third trimester, she had to cut her tour short last month due to health concerns), she knew that she was not the first comedian to have a baby, she knew she wasn't starting a new genre of performing while visibly expecting (Ali Wong already gave the mother of those performances) and she wasn't the first formerly edgy single gal, used to detailing the absurdities of dating life, who one day found herself married to a really great guy.
With all those subjects well-trod, the new territory was going to have to come from within.
So the best part about Growing is that, while many of the topics are familiar, all the dirty details are relayed in a way that's unmistakably Amy.