This is not an unbiased review of Maria Bamford’s latest stand-up comedy album, “20%.”
It is well-researched though.
While listening to “20%” on Sunday, I jotted down what felt like occasional notes and some of my favorite Bamford bits from the record, and by the time the 16th and final track was complete, five pages of a standard reporter’s notebook had been filled.
Even after writing down all those jokes and notes, I’m still not sure I’m in a position to critique anything Bamford does because I have been a huge fan of her comedy for many years, and root for her to succeed more than any other performer whose art I enjoy.
I’m such a fan that my Facebook profile pic is of Bamford and I after a show she did in Charlotte a couple of years ago, and she is one of maybe three or four comedians who belong to my three-hour club.
What is the three-hour club, you ask?
Well, friend, if the select few comics in this club are performing within a three-hour drive of wherever I am, I go to their show. Bamford and Doug Stanhope are the founding members of the club.
It feels disingenuous, and probably a little trite, to use terms like “Bamford’s comedy isn’t for everybody” because anybody’s anything isn’t for everybody, is it? Everybody is so many people. Nor is it accurate to say only astute comedy connoisseurs can appreciate Bamford’s jokes because if ever there was a group of words put together by a master of her craft that has the power to make everybody, or at least most of us, laugh, this is it:
“I say I love my nieces and nephews. Is that what I say when, once a year, I FedEx them a box of wigs? Does that really make up for the fact that I never make eye contact and I’m not clear on their names? ‘Hey shortstop, where are the taller shadows?’”
This is also brilliant and hilarious:
“I need to find a way to show people I love them despite all my words and actions.”
And one more, maybe the best one:
“I like to stand near Arlington National Cemetery and say, ‘Hey, what happened?’”
All 50 minutes of the album are excellent, whether Bamford delves deep into a premise, dispatches a one-liner, does incredible things with her voice and impersonation skills or all of the above, often in the same bit or chunk of material.
The previous paragraph is all the reviewing this reviewer is good for today so, hope that helped.
Bamford is one of the best comedians of all time, and in addition to being funny and smart, she discusses mental illness, including her own, in her act without blatantly making fun of the affliction or the afflicted. After a suicidal episode that resulted in a stay in a psychiatric hospital, Bamford has bounced back with some of the best comedy of her life, and that includes the release of “20%,” which follows Season 1 of her incredibly entertaining Netflix show “Lady Dynamite.”
Since my review of Bamford’s album has turned into more of an open love letter to her art, perhaps it’s best I conclude with my honest opinion of her and her latest record.
I love Maria Bamford and I think “20%” is great. Everybody should buy it and listen to it on their chosen digital platform.