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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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Amy Schumer, Saturday at The Pabst Theater.
Amy Schumer, Saturday at The Pabst Theater. (Photo: Erik Ljung)

Schumer's star eclipsed by opening act

Usually at any concert the opening act is designed to serve as a solid appetizer to get the audience settled in for the headline performer. This was not the case at The Pabst Theater on Saturday night as Amy Schumer’s opener Bridget Everett was a supernova that made Schumer’s set feel like a post-dinner piece of hard candy.

Nobody on the first floor could have felt that they were out of harm’s way as Everett destroyed the fourth wall separating the audience from the performer. Opening with a high energy song in which she repeatedly promised to "f*** some s*** up," Everett immediately garnered a shocked reaction since her undergarments were clearly visible through her transparent outfit. Several times she shifted her legs so that there was nothing pretending to hide her underwear.

She also popped a bottle of champagne on stage and turned the first few rows of The Pabst into a "splash zone" by spraying some of the beverage out of her mouth after taking a swig. During the course of this song, she made the following statement: "Some of you may not know me, but you will not f***ing forget me." Her thesis was 100 percent true.

Everett’s material came second to her physicality because of how fearless she was as a performer. For her next song, she went into the audience and interacted with multiple individuals on a very personal level. Whether it was pulling them closely to her chest or climbing over the laps of entire row of people, she created an atmosphere where there was no safety barrier.

By not knowing what could possibly happen next, the whole audience was captivated. Then Everett set her sights on a man in the second row she nicknamed "Corky," who she aggressively pursued. Everett asked him, "You ever been with a big girl before?" After he replied no, she told him to call his mother and tell her that his luck was about to change.

The final number of the night revolved around Everett toying with "Corky" after getting him to come up on the Pabst stage. After placing his hands over her body, Everett then had him lie on stage while she stood over him. Despite his attempts to squirm away, "Corky's" legs were gabbed by Everett, who placed his feet against her torso.

This was the setup for her attempt to have him raise her in the air while she shifted all of her weight onto his feet. While it was only briefly successful, this final act left Everett with sneaker impressions on her stomach as she left. However, the impression she left on the Pabst audience was permanent.

Amy Schumer was in almost an impossible position because Bridget Everett may just be the hardest act anyone could follow. After showing some clips from her upcoming Comedy Central series "Inside Amy Schumer," Schumer dedicated the majority of the night to politically incorrect jokes and material about sex.

Performing in Milwaukee for the second time in less than a year, Schumer expressed her love for the city while also mocking the appearances of those in the audience. She classified the women in the crowd as corn-fed, while stating that the men at The Pabst were all dressed either like a 3-year-old or like a farmer.

While Schumer’s bawdy approach is centered completely on explicit material, she had several moments where her asides or reactions highlighted the breadth of her wit that’s not always on display. Describing the way her mother’s 70-year old boyfriend walked as "Tim Burton-esque" created a distinct vision of claymation style movement. Later, she classified the source of an audience disruption in the balcony as coming from Statler and Waldorf and then openly pondered how amazing it would be if she could afford for her live show to randomly have puppets.

Since Schumer skyrocketed to fame after her appearance on the Comedy Central "Roast of Charlie Sheen," it was very well-received when she did material that didn’t make the final cut of last year’s special around Roseanne.

With targets such as Sharon Stone, Jane Lynch and Wayne Brady, the sampling of these lost jokes elicited laughs but it was understandable that they were edited out. Once again, Schumer dipped into the well of politically incorrect humor in which she employed stereotypes to add more bite to her material.

Ultimately Schumer’s set just couldn’t compare to what Bridget Everett did in just a third of the time. Nothing that Schumer said came anywhere close to the fearless risks that Everett took as a performer. For Everett, her act seems to be best confined to such a limited burst and as word gets out about her, the shock value will likely minimize.

However, on Saturday night, nobody leaving The Pabst was reflecting on Schumer’s set – it was the unknown opener that was on everyone’s lips.

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