Arts Review: Mae Martin

The Stand, 13th March 2018, in collaboration with Glasgow International Comedy Festival

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A very short summary of Canadian-born comedienne Mae Martin’s debut UK tour is: this show left me feeling embarrassed due to how loudly, ferociously, and consistently I laughed.

Performing at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival alongside big names such as Rob Delaney and Katherine Ryan, Mae Martin managed to fill The Stand to the brim with her new show, Dope. In 70 minutes, Martin recounts the exciting journey of her life through tales of addiction, obsession, and eh… Bette Midler. In a recital of vulnerable honesty, Martin grants the audience access to her shrimp: the symbol of her addictive personality that resides in her brain and wakes up at moments in life to “get a boner” and reveal a new obsession.

Beginning Dope – referring not only to drugs but to the reflection of the rush of dopamine in the brain – Martin admits her earliest true compulsion was performer and sex icon Bette Midler. This childhood juvenile love interest was replaced as Mae’s shrimp woke up again in her pre-teen years and this time set its sights on stand-up comedy: an obsession that, half a lifetime later, has proven to be resilient. After stalking local comedians, and performing in any local comedy clubs unassuming enough to permit 13 year old acts, the addiction saunters into a darker world, far from Hocus Pocus and lewd smoky comedy rooms, and into a life of taking and selling drugs. However, despite this heavy material, the audience are certainly not denied the laughs for which they paid, as Mae ingeniously keeps the humour strong throughout and allows her anecdotal show to remain an amusing joy for all involved.

A self-aware performance of candour, Dope exalts Martin to a new age of comedy: beyond quips about the battle of the sexes or so-called witticisms with intention to do no more than create controversy. This new kind of performative humour offers up some raw and yet commonly unfortunate moments of humanity, letting us discreetly reflect and brazenly laugh along.

[Ellen Magee – @mondaymagee]

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