The line up for Maria Bamford’s show went around the block. Her fans are a dedicated bunch that flocks to see her wherever she goes. She’s built a very special place in comedy history with her voices, one woman web series and a sold out stand up special which was filmed in her living room (the audience members were her parents). All this to say she is not a run of the mill comedian. She has taken the stand up form and created something unique, absurd and wonderfully hilarious.
As soon as the Bammer steps on stage her act begins. There’s not the usual “How’s everyone doing tonight?” or “Who here is from out of town?” – No, Bamford gets right to the point and doesn’t waste any of her precious stage time. Her act is comprised of several characters and representations (not impressions) of various people from her life and stereotypes of people we’ve all met. It seems that Bamford has been surrounded by criticism her entire life and her comedy is a way to respond to those criticisms. She creates simple scenes and switches effortlessly between characters acting out situations from her everyday life using voices, sounds and bizarre facial expressions to convey her emotional response to all the frustrating elements of her life.
Toward the end of her set she began talking about depression and suicide in a way that I admire. When a comedian goes down that path it can get messy; it’s hard to be sincere, empathetic and funny while talking about such personal issues which certainly strikes a chord with several audience members. Bamford handles it in a way that was inspiring. She connects with the audience and talks about the stigma of depression which people who don’t suffer from it often find depression to be a selfish condition. She offers help in the way of jokes. It was beautiful to watch.
When I saw Bamford two years ago Jackie Kashian opened for her. I was hoping Kashian would be back this year and I was not let down. Kashian is very comfortable on stage – her short set gives us a glimpse into her life and comedic talent. I am looking forward to hearing more from her and listening to her podcast The Dork Forest.
After her set you can find Maria Bamford on the sidewalk in front of Theatre Ste Catherine with a table of her albums and DVDs. She makes time for all of her fans, not just signing and moving them along but ready to connect with people. As I left the venue I saw her hug a fan that was in tears. In my mind this was a person who connected to Bamford’s extremely personal material and felt a sense of gratitude and appreciation for that. Or maybe I am projecting; she could have just been a big fan who was happy to meet Bamford. Either way, it was a lovely moment.