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Spit Take Saturday: Maria Bamford

Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!


The concept for Maria Bamford’s new “the special special special!” sounds amusing—a direct-to-fans download (available at shot in her living room with an audience of just her parents and a couple of crew members. The natural question is, can that novelty sustain a full hour?

“Special” is a purposefully awkward, sometimes downright intense, series of character monologues. Wayne Federman adds musical accompaniment on keyboard and Jackie Kashian introduces Bamford, traditional touches that further set the stage. The whole thing feels like it could have been directed by David Lynch, especially the short asides of Bamford giving her pug, Bert, his eye medicine or feeding her parents pizza during a particularly dark bit. More than anything else it’s intimate, a good fit for the type of distribution model pioneered by Louis C.K.

A feeling of something loose and comfortable yet highly choreographed pervades. Bert loafs on the couch behind Bamford in a long shot as the ceiling fan whirs. Federman laughs along with Bamford’s parents, who are lovely. There is a designated pee break. It’s a different situation, however, during the shots tightly focused on Bamford. With just a red stage curtain in the background, she purposefully locks eyes with the viewer. Depending on the character she’s in at the time, this can be admittedly unnerving.

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