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Alien's Nation

Maria Bamford fashions an extraterrestrial brand of stand-up comedy on latest CD.

Comedian Maria Bamford’s new CD, “How to Win!,” her second, presents an act that is a slowly unfolding parody of all the cliches mined by stand-up comedians -- travel, flying, working temp jobs, and parents, with some mild political satire thrown in.

Bamford set the stage for this by first displaying her ability to mine the outer reaches of comedy on her first album “The Burning Bridges Tour.” “How To Win” seems to have bypassed her more outre material from the “Comedians of Comedy” tour (that earned her a review by tour mate Patton Oswalt as ‘an alien who comes to earth to tell jokes about humans’). This CD goes back to being a variation on her first, not that that’s a bad thing.

Marrying those two aims -- the parody and the alien point of view, Bamford comes up with scenes like her mother telling her to tell her dad to pick up Vagisil at the supermarket. When poor Maria refuses to do this, mom says to tell him she needs “rug cleaner” like that would be less embarrassing.

Another example of what Bamford does here comes with bits about working as a temp and being told not to put certain important people on hold -- and “I could never remember who those people were” she tells us. So she puts them all on conference together and “let them sort it out.”

Bamford does all this in an airy, somewhat spacey voice that belies the intelligence she has underneath it to invent these scenes. “How To Win” finds her working on a few different levels all at once, presenting an act that still stands as funny on repeated listens.




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