I called Maria Bamford a superhero and busted some rhymes to explain how efficiently she adapted her newest hour of stand-up material to audiences of varying sizes and locations in her new Netflix special, Old Baby.
The special gradually increases her audience from just herself, to her husband and their pugs, to a dozen friends in a living room, to a cramped bookstore, to an eatery’s back patio, to a bowling alley, to a cinema house, to a downtown theater. Most of the venues in Bamford’s own neighborhood. She shines no matter the situation. As I wrote in my review for my friends at Decider:
If Bamford herself seems largely outside of our perception of mainstream comedy, then that’s a disservice of our own doing. Instead, let your ears focus on Bamford’s uncanny ability to voice the people around her, from her parents and sister to a fitness instructor, an elderly man at the dog park with no dog of his own, to the students she unwittingly found herself speaking to for a school’s Career Day. Those students call her “Old Baby.” To which Bamford replies, after the fact: “Yes! That is the perfect description of what I am. Very old, and baby-like.”
Given the choice, she’d much rather tell a stranger she worked as a bookkeeper. But as she has finally found a lasting love in her mid-40s, Bamford also has recognized that getting married also shares some parallels with the longing search to make it in show business after more than 20 years in stand-up comedy. “Is that what a relationship is? Is it just continuing to show up without any guarantee?” she asks. “I can do that!”