Review: Maria Bamford Redefines the Rules with New Comedy Special ‘Local Act’


“Thank you so much for coming out and being a part of a group! I desperately, of course, want to be accepted by you. I hope you can sense that,” said Maria Bamford at the top of her new comedy special, Local Act, which was released on Dec. 12 via Comedy Dynamics.

“I like being a part of something even if I don’t know exactly what it is,” Bamford added.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the comedian knows exactly what something is. Throughout the hilarious hour-long special, Bamford writes her own rules and creates her own definition for things like The Harvard Lampoon, hospice care, and tax collectors.

One of the prominent threads weaving in and out of Local Act, is Bamford’s predilection for problematic organizations, a topic she previously dove into with her New York Times best-selling memoir, Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult. Twelve-Step programs, church, and the above-mentioned Harvard Lampoon – which is the subject of a silly, suspenseful story that’s full of laughs – are just a few of the groups Bamford explores with her distinct voice, along with the finely honed voices of various characters in her stories.

Her family – AKA her original cult – is also discussed with love and laughter. Sadly, Bamford’s parents Marilyn and Joel – who fans will remember from the 2012 masterpiece, The Special Special Special! – have both passed away, but they are very much alive in Bamford’s heartfelt, hilarious, and at times outrageous stories. A shaman named Paul plays a central role in her parents’ dalliance with psychedelics, while Bamford finds comfort in the way that Western medicine, specifically a stay in the hospital, has very similar business practices to those of comedy clubs.

Local Act isn’t simply a title derived from the fact that it is set at Public Displays of Altadena, which is within walking distance of Bamford’s home. After Bamford finished up her set, she invited L.A. comics in the audience to the mic to perform a few jokes.

“Now is the opportunity for everyone to have their comedy special. Everyone deserves one and we all live in Los Angeles, God damn it, and we all deserve a fucking break,” said Bamford welcoming members of the crowd up on stage.

As each of these stand-ups – including her husband Scott Marvel Cassidy – were featured in a closing comedy montage, Bamford is seen watching on with delight, laughing along with each punchline. It is obvious she loves comedy and with this, her sixth stand-up special, Bamford continues to defy expectations to create another truly original work of comedic art.

Maria Bamford: Local Act was directed by Bri LeRose with Brian Volk-Weiss, Cisco Henson, Bruce Smith, and Bamford serving as Executive Producers. It is available via Apple TV.

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