Review: Mae Martin: I’m Not Waving, I’m Drowning (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

I spent my Thursday evening watching funny-girl Mae Martin perform at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as part of their Queer Pride line-up.

The theatre itself has a laid back set-up with neatly organized chairs in the centre and more casual tables and high bar stools off to either side. There is also a bar at the end of the room so if you get there early enough you can squeeze in a drink or two.

I didn’t expect a simple stand-up routine so I am glad that it was more like a variety show with lots of singing and some pretty funny impersonations. Marco Bernardi, a young actor, opens for Mae Martin and sets the tone with his jokes about growing up in a small Ontario town, working as an usher in Toronto and dealing with homophobes in everyday life.

Before the show starts I realise that Mae Martin has quite the following. Everyone in the audience seems to be familiar with her work and eagerly awaiting her one night only, double performance at Buddies. What I didn’t realise is that Mae is sitting in the audience watching the opening act and informally jumps on to the stage when her name is called.

Standing in front of a mike, Mae Martin’s only prop is a block that she rests her leg on and the guitar she plays during her songs segments. She is very charismatic, engaging and interactive with the audience. Not in an uncomfortable, put you on the spot kind of way, but more in an “I’m sure you can relate to my story and isn’t it funny” kind of way.

She has the audience in stitches for most of the show and even though I don’t normally like people singing their jokes she does it perfectly every time. Through the course of her act she talks and sings about pop culture icons, the end of the world, her crushes as a young girl, her one-off boyfriends and oh yes… zombies.

All the songs are covers of popular and easily recognizable songs with Mae’s own witty lyrics that are impeccably timed. Alanis Morissette is a recurring reference throughout the routine.

Mae Martin does a hilarious Julia Roberts impersonation and ends the show on a very strong note with a song about her and her current celebrity love, Don Cheadle. She even passes out pictures of him to the audience so we can see the different sides of Don. My show partner Ameer and I both thought this was the perfect end to the evening.

I wish she was doing more shows so all you comedy lovers would have a chance to see her and experience this one-woman laugh riot. Mae, a former Torontonian, currently lives in London, England. If you ever hear about her doing another show in town, make the time to go laugh your butt off.


Mae will be performing at the Flying Beaver Pubaret in Toronto on July 15th & 16th.

More information about Mae Martin and her upcoming shows can be found here.

Queer Pride 2011 runs till July 3rd at Buddies in Bad Times.  Tickets can be purchased online.

Photo credit to Lucy Hutchinson.