Sara Schaefer Chrysalis
Published Apr 28, 2015Now in her 14th year of making people laugh for a living, podcaster, writer and stand-up comedian Sara Schaefer has at long last released her debut stand-up comedy record, Chrysalis. While it may be a mere symbolic achievement for Schaefer, having previously received stand-up accolades from New York Magazine, Comedy Central and USA Today, it is nonetheless a step well taken.
Chrysalis is fundamentally a wry itinerary of Schaefer's personal transitions and transformations. The material charts — among other things — her conversion from a decade-long marriage to navigating the digitized dating world of the 2010s (there are cell phones now!), the barometric advantages of moving from New York to Los Angeles, and the humiliating trials of her teenage years.
Sara's best material has roots in her ability to squeeze whatever positivity or advantage she can out of irrevocably bad situations. If you're about to cry — for example — hurry to a modern art museum and reap the cultural capital of weeping in front of a stripe. Sara Schaefer is full of ways to turn horrible mistakes and misfortunes into small triumphs no matter how futile or convoluted they are. Futility is a generous well of inspiration for many comedians; doubly so for Schaefer.
The objectification of women is another theme on her mind, often arising in the form of her antithesis — a nasal imitation of a textbook valley girl. Standards placed on women's bodies, sexual activity, consumer products and the like prevail throughout the album in a way that — in most comedians' hands — could get strident but doesn't. Throughout the tumult of positive and negative subjects featured in Chrysalis, Schaefer never loses herself in comedic tropes. It keeps her interesting and unpredictable. She's not a token angry comic, nor is she depressed, although she certainly isn't sunshine and roses. Schaefer's aversion of falling into any of these traps — or for some, comfort zones — is what keeps Chrysalis dynamically funny from start to finish.
She alternates between incredulous outbursts and under-her-breath punchlines, tackling orgasmic chocolate commercials directed at women, the no-nonsense implications of relieving your bowels in a New York grocery store, and her unfortunate choices in tattoos and one night stands.
Schaefer is erratic in every way, simultaneously pitiable and enviable. In short, she comes across as disarmingly normal, making Chrysalis as personal as it is relatable. Few comedians are as dead set on making everyday situations as hilariously outlandish as Sara Schaefer.