“I found out two days ago that I’m pregnant,” Amy Schumer says tearfully at the start of the “Expecting Amy.” “Maybe I’ll document it or something.” That translates into a three-part docuseries, and a test of one’s fandom level toward the comic/actor, offering a very-personal account of her gestation process for two things: The baby she had last year, and a Netflix stand-up special.
Primarily shot by Schumer and her husband, Chris Fischer, using their phones, viewers should be forewarned that Schumer had an extremely difficult pregnancy, and this HBO Max presentation illustrates that by showing her throwing up in a variety of locales. In fact, it’s hard not to think about Fischer snatching up his phone every time his wife becomes nauseous so he can capture the moment, which speaks to a certain level of commitment to the process.
The degree of personal detail is a testament, in theory, to Schumer’s unflinching openness, and highlights the balance associated with juggling a pregnancy and work — in this case, a high-profile career touring clubs to hone her material.
That proves to be the more unique aspect of this project, seeing Schumer workshop and fine-tune her act. In addition, there’s the friction that ensues over her decision to talk about her husband — diagnosed with being on what she calls the “mild” end of the autism spectrum — as part of the show.
Directed and edited by Alexander Hammer (who worked on Beyoncé’s “Homecoming”), “Expecting Amy’s” journey includes video of the couple’s wedding, tracking Schumer as she participates in protests against then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and moments in which she brings her dog on stage, again demonstrating that pooches remain the ultimate scene-stealers, even in a verité-style documentary. Plus, lots of ultrasounds, run-ins with paparazzi and, lest anyone forget, vomiting.
Schumer seems mindful of the possibility the exercise will appear a tad self-indulgent, at one point asking if she sounds whiny, and during another looking directly into the camera and saying, “Stars, they’re just like us.”
Yet that is, inevitably, part of the appeal, as even a perfunctory glance at People and US Weekly would attest. For anyone who doesn’t crave such access, Schumer’s discussions with the likes of Colin Quinn and Jerry Seinfeld offer a more intriguing window into her professional world.
“I can always perform,” Schumer says, despite feeling shaky physically. “You just have to do your job.”
Comedians regularly invite audiences into their lives and heads, seeking to glean identifiable truths from their personal experiences. Because “Expecting Amy” offers such an intimate portrait, it’s almost impossible to separate the project from the person, meaning one’s interest level in Schumer going in will likely determine the extent to which this docuseries diary delivers.
“Expecting Amy” premieres July 9 on HBO Max. Like CNN, HBO Max is a unit of WarnerMedia.