On New Year’s Day Netflix flooded the world with 47 half hour stand up specials, and if this was a good website we’d have reviewed them all. Unfortunately we’re a very lazy website with a full time job and so will probably only get around to four or five, sorry about that. With so many to choose from it was hard to know where to start, but I thought I’d begin with a set by Mae Martin as I’ve heard very good things about her but have yet to see her live, and it turned out to be a pretty damn good decision.
A Canadian comic based in the UK, Martin starts with a routine about Brexit and the state of the world, and a rather bleak statement that she feels flat which she attributes to being an adult. Even though it’s not a sentiment I agree with it’s a fun way to start the set, even if it doesn’t sound like it, and leads in to discussion of her addictive personality which becomes the central concept of the special. Her first addiction was to Bette Midler (the greatest living entertainer, apparently), and means she can talk about herself as a child in a strong segment which contains many a funny moment including her family being driven to despair by the Wind Beneath My Wings. A passion for stand up followed when she was only ten years old, visiting her first club on her eleventh birthday and obsessively going to see a sketch group over a hundred and sixty times in a year, and at this point she plays audio of an interview with a friend who was part of it who describes Mae in beautifully funny ways. Self-deprecation is the order of the day, and she does it extremely well.
A possible darker element comes next as Martin talks about being introduced to drugs at 15 and being a dopamine junkie, but refreshingly she’s not particularly critical of drugs, just aware that some people handle them better than others. There’s a cute simile comparing smart phone addiction to her coke habit, and another even funnier one which draws parallels to people screwing her ex-partner right in front of her, it’s not only something which will make you laugh a lot but it also gives a real insight in to what it’s like to suffer from addiction. After this she moves in to material about relationships, such a thing is often weak when it comes to stand up comedy as it’s been done to death but Martin skips the trend by making it relatable despite her situation being slightly unusual territory, which is quite the feat, and she’s created a great “Hashtag Mae Too” joke as well, before tying everything together with the beginning of the set in a delightful way.
It’s not gag after gag after gag but the stories are told in an alluring manner and do contain some strong laugh out loud moments. It might not be the kind of set that will change the way you think or make you reconsider the way you’ve lived your life, but then very few are, yet it is a constantly fun, smart and witty insight in to Mae’s life and the way her brain works, and even if yours isn’t wired in a similar way you’ll still laugh a lot during these thirty minutes.