I enjoyed stand-up comedienne Maria Bamford the couple of times I saw her at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival so I was looking forward to getting How To Win! the second Bamford comedy CD. Unfortunately some 50 minutes of the comedienne’s pixie voiced somewhat absurd and very disconnected stand-up is more than I can go for.

It’s not that Maria Bamford is not original or funny but more a question of how she sets up her material and the lack of logical ties within a particular bit. An example of this is the three goals she has set for herself: master and defeat death, kidnap George Bush, and drink more water. This is more of a set up for a longer routine than the three very loosely tied together short bits that follow especially as the explanation involves pouring Raisin Bran into a bowl.

Her bit about working in an “office environment” is pretty good and shows that Bamford is not afraid of bantering with the audience and has the chops to deal with the possible results. This is one of the strongest routines on this comedy CD if only because it follows a single line of thought.

Bamford is at her best on tracks 5 to 7 where she segues nicely from getting fired to working at home and to being a temp and its disadvantages.

It’s also not that I do not like CDs where the comic covers a lot of ground in a short period of time but I do want to feel some kind of rhyme or reason, some thematic, or central character that ties it all in and I failed to perceive this on How To Win! Bamford can be very innocent-like for one routine and then go very dark (such as the joke in the home improvement TV show bit) and become just another comic doing, though she does it well, your usual stuff.

I really wanted to like this stand-up comedy CD and still wish I had. There is something charming about Bamford and her material that makes you want to like her. Maria Bamford has a flair for the absurd and an ability to surprise I usually appreciate.

Unfortunately the sum of the parts and the sum of the parts of the parts here does not make for a solid whole.

Maria Bamford
How To Win!
Stand-up comedy CD
Stand Up! Records 2007
50 minutes

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