Published Jun 09, 2017If you're unfamiliar with Maria Bamford, know that writing about her work in an effort to capture what she does is rather difficult. This thing you're reading right now is a vain attempt to describe what is essentially indescribable in the realm of standup. The unconventional structure of Old Baby seems to acknowledge the dizzying impact of Bamford, as a voice and performer.
Instead of a single location, Bamford's new special flows between different and unusual venues, including living rooms with only one or a handful of people, bookstores, bowling alleys, bar patios and theatres.
Part of the joy here is seeing how Bamford's wide array of voices — often alien or Stepford Wife-y — and characterizations, not to mention her willingness to confront her own history with mental health treatments, goes over. She always gets a laugh, but in the smaller groups, there's the palpable sense that a certain strength in numbers makes it more okay to enjoy Bamford's uncompromising performances. It's weird to laugh at someone who appears to be so weird.
Bamford likely tires of comparisons to say, Robin Williams' manic stream-of-consciousness mental explorations, or at the contention that, in her subversive reflection of social archetypes, she's like a one-woman Kids in the Hall. But there's actually something to those notions and watching her resolutely stay the same and be herself no matter what the setting here puts her in a fearlessly funny category.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.