With Sap, Mae Martin, (known for their semi-autobiographical show Feel Good), secures their spot as a force and voice to be reckoned with in the world of stand-up specials.
Sap is Martin’s debut standup hour and is directed by Abbi Jacobson, who was also directing her first stand-up special, but both show a confidence that comes from veterans.
Martin combines the blunt confessional style of Mike Birbiglia and casual storytelling of Tig Notaro with the eccentricities and excited energy of Maria Bamford. Of course, Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is also an easy comparison, as both specials are powerful debuts dealing with gender, mental health, sexuality, and life.
Highlights of the set include anecdotes about their time in rehab as a young adult nicknamed “Bathwater,” jokes about the early days of the internet, explaining their relationship with their new therapist, and telling misadventures in love.
But the real joy in the special comes when Martin focuses on the throughline of Sap: finding joy and happiness in who you are wherever you can.
Throughout, Martin returns to stories about other people. First, they tell a story their parents love to tell. Many of us can relate to the idea of our parents having an out-of-this-world story they swear is true and bring out at every family reunion, and Martin uses that to explain their view on enthusiastic earnestness and optimism in the face of a difficult world.
Another story involves a European mailman who finds a new way to love his job, and a woman having her own fun at a haunted house.
Martin, who is nonbinary, does talk about their gender in the set, opening up to the audience about getting top surgery and starting hormones – a moment of vulnerability most comedians strive for their entire careers.
“I want to talk about the gender thing,” they say, before talking about the state of the world for trans people. It’s not something they necessarily wanted to do, but Martin says they feel like they would be remiss if they didn’t address the backlash.
Towards the end of the special, Martin also addresses transphobic comedians, something that many viewers were probably waiting the entire special to see.
“Biological sex is a real thing,” they reassure these comedians. “But within that there’s so much variation,” and then there’s also gender, which is on a different spectrum from sex.
They imagine Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, and even Joe Rogan listening to their jokes about relating to the gender of Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast more than either Gaston or Belle.
“The more Lumiere is empowered, the more Belle and Gaston are,” they joke.
But they admit that, while it would be nice if this bit opened the eyes of these comedians, they doubt it will. And that’s okay. This special isn’t for Chapelle or Gervais or Louis C.K. It’s for Martin, and the people who relate to them. And while it might not change every transphobe’s heart, Sap will change the hearts of people willing to give it a view and truly listen.
“I don’t want to necessarily identify as nonbinary or trans, I just am that, and to say otherwise would be bizarre,” they say. “You just have to take my word for it that I know who I am.”
Ultimately, Martin just wants to be happy, and that’s what Sap is about – finding happiness and joy where you can and holding onto them, and maybe, just maybe, believing that a car can drive under a moose.
Mae Martin: Sap is streaming now on Netflix.
Mae Martin: SAP | Official Trailer | NetflixMae Martin makes their hour-long comedy special debut with SAP, directed by Abbi Jacobson. The award-winning comedian, ...