Unlike other recent Comedy Central CD/DVD Combo packs, which feature the comic’s stand-up special in both formats, Maria Bamford’s Ask Me About My New God! is presented only on the CD; the DVD consists of two bonus episodes from her appearances on Comedy Central Presents. While normally I would applaud the decision not to duplicate the material, in this case I would have preferred to see the new special on DVD. Bamford is a funny woman with excellent material; she can be absolutely hilarious when you can see the deadpan innocence in her king-size eyes as she tosses off some off-color punchline or politically incorrect remark. Besides, while she likes to tout her knack for creating different character voices, I find they are doubly effective when you can see them coming out of that sweet, often adorable face.
Ask Me About My New God is a selection of material originally from the comedienne’s 2012 special Maria Bamford: The Special! Special! Special! which was named one of Vulture’s top ten stand-up specials of the year, a list that included the shows of Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane and John Mulaney. Deservedly so, as Bamford’s material is fresh and exciting, her delivery spot on. The conceit of the original performance was that she is performing for her parents, and given the awkwardness of some of her material in that situation, it creates a somewhat quirky vibe, one that doesn’t make itself felt in the audio performance.
Almost from the first moment she opens her mouth, she has the listeners captivated, and once she has them she keeps them. There isn’t a down moment on the album. Whether she’s reeling off Paula Deen recipes as suicide notes (a bit that has some current resonance today, that it didn’t have last year); describing her sister’s style as a life coach, or her father’s grumpiness; or talking about dating at age 40, she keeps the momentum of the set building. It is a bravura performance, and it begs to be seen as well as heard.
The two bonus episodes, earlier examples of Bamford’s work, serve to emphasize just how much more effective she is when you can see her. She creates a voice, and she becomes that character. It may be the voice of her mother. It may be the voice of a lady boss. It may be the voice of an angel explaining God’s plan. Sybil-like, she has multiple personalities, each one funnier than the last.