Welcome back to The Watchlist. Where I finally watch the messy sock drawer that is my Netflix Watchlist, because if I don’t watch it then Who Watches The Netflix Watchlist?
This Week: The Special Special Special
Maria Bamford has a special place in my dusty cave of a heart. I only found out about her and her rose-colored agony style of comedy, this summer when Lady Dynamite came out. If you haven’t seen Lady Dynamite yet, please stop immediately and binge watch it like you’ve never binge watched before. It is equal parts absurd and heart-warming and completely Maria Bamford. Well now I know that. Originally I just thought that Maria was merely a small part in the tone of the show, after watching this special I realize she is the sole creator of that bittersweet, candid humor about mental illness and accidental pug killing. She opens this special with cookies.
She hands them out to her audience, which is just her parents in her living room. God, how perfect is this set up. There is nothing more vulnerable than trying to make your parents laugh. For so many comedians, making family laugh in order to feel loved is the reason they are comedians, so really, this is the toughest room. This is so vulnerable. Also, as you learn through her T.V. show and her set, she has a complex relationship with them. They are extremely supportive, but not necessarily of her comedy. Her mom is extremely judgmental, and her dad is just a goofy dude. This special could have fallen apart quickly, as her parents stared quietly at their daughter talking about her failed relationships. Which probably would have been funny too.
Every joke works in this area. It’s a traditional set up, meaning Maria is standing with a mic and her comedy and nothing else. The setting is the gimmick, and the tension that last throughout. This isn’t a cheap gag, it’s a genuine tension builder for her comedy.
This is the crowning jewel of her set. It’s truth. It’s self-deprecating and honest and confident and not dripping in self-pity. It’s the confident self-loathing we walk around with so often, and it’s perfectly delivered.
Maria has created a special that is unapologetically her, and unapologetically human, when so much of comedy right now is dripping with cynical bitter old men, Maria steps out confidently to say: I’m here and I’m full of mental illness and self-doubt, but I’m dealing with it…most days. Anyone want some cookies?
Article Submitted by Kevin Cucolo