If you really think about it stand up comedy is just making the human condition open, exposed and relatable. Most things that are funny are because they are true. How many times have you sat there during a stand up set and thought or vocalized just that. “It’s funny because it’s true!” Good comedians really know how to tap into that and even though it was only my second time seeing Maria Bamford (nope, have not seen her Netflix series Lady Dynamite or any other stand up specials) I feel I can say that this is something she does really well. Better than most. In a weirder kind of way.
For those who don’t know much about the lady she is someone who has mined her personal life for her material. Bamford, starting at a young age, suffers from depression, anxiety and OCD. She has been hospitalized during her life as a result of depression and suicidal thoughts. None of this is off limits when it comes to her comedy. In fact, it makes a up a big part of her material and on stage demeanour. She even addressed the tremours in her hands right off the bat with a quip about how people often approach her with the advice of “why don’t you take medication for that?” To which she replies that she is already on a myriad of drugs. Something that some might see as a detriment she seems to be proud of. It is part of her act. “Weakness is the brand” she cried. Good for her!
Her delivery style is rather stream of consciousness. You just get the feeling like you are watching the ramblings of a very busy mind. It does give you a window into how that wonderfully quirky mind works as she jumps from one thing to the next with it getting sometimes weirder and weirder as she goes on. The only consistent is that it is brilliant.
The material in this special involves her four year marriage to her husband, Scott. Which she told us is her longest relationship ever. Towards the end she was joined onstage by Scott to sing an awkwardly funny song. Oh, you could just picture it all. Their life together…the awkwardness…a beautiful window into her life.
Linked to that was a longer bit about role playing to keep things fresh. Now, many a comedian has done bits about their sex lives, but not like Maria does. Her version of coming up with personas she and Scott could take on included such skits as “Living Wage” and “Gentrification”. You never think “awkward” rather you are in complete wonderment about how she comes up with this stuff. Her mind definitely works on a different level. A better one.
Another important thing in Maria’s life is her parents. They (especially her mother) are sprinkled throughout her hour long set. From her father saying after seeing her Netflix series “You do what you gotta do to earn money” to how a passive-aggressive conversation with her mother led to the aforementioned set closing song she wrote with Scott.
Though everything is done with a kind of nervous energy and in a slapdash kind of way you never feel like you are scared or uncomfortable in the rabbit holes Bamford brings you into. Rather you find yourself thinking “I could listen to this lady all night long”. Then sadly, too soon, it is over.
‘Weakness Is the Brand’ will be available through the Comedy Dynamics Network on January 28th, 2020, via Comcast, Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Apple TV, Dish, Google Play, DirecTV, Vimeo, and YouTube, and the album will be available starting January 31. This is Bamford’s first special since Old Baby, which premiered on Netflix in 2017.