Maria Bamford comes highly recommended. As an actor in the recent Arrested Development season she’s one of the cast of that effortlessly funny and weird show, so I was certain she could do no wrong.
I was also excited to see her as she was the sole American comic I was seeing this MICF and and a break from the mainly young, earnest and terrific Brits comics I’ve been seeing.
Bamford’s delivery is what defines her work; her youthful, quiet and breathy voice set ups her gags and then jumping down the mic with loud voices and/or silly noises provides the payoffs. This creates light and shade through her set, and some of her characterisations sound hilariously weird and almost Dalek-like.
But the show as a whole fell short of my (high) expectations. It’s her delivery and acting ability rather than the material itself that is strongest. What she talks about is often amusing, earning a grin but not a belly laugh.
Her jokes cover some familiar topics, Trump and internet trolls and among them. She is funny, but doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been done before, and with more venom. Some of her other material is very good; a piece about competing with her mother for not being the worst person on the planet is damn funny but sometimes the difference between the silliness of what she is saying and how she says it doesn’t always fire or feels overblown.
Much of the audience laughed throughout her show but she was just too “American” in style for me, or at least in her slightly toned-down version of that classic hectoring style many US male comics adopt.