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MAE MARTIN: DOPE

Comedy

Venue:The City Café, 19 Blair Street Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Phone: 0131 220 0125
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: City Two - Basement Bar
AUG 3-13, 15-27 at 20:00 (60 min)
 
Show Image

The star of the award-nominated Mae Martin’s Guide to 21st Century Sexuality (BBC Radio Four) examines a lifetime of obsessions, fandom and addiction in her new stand-up hour of millennial introspection.

Mae shines a light on that one weird shrimp we all have in our brains that is happy to pursue short-term pleasure, despite knowing the long-term negative consequences. She asks: who are we when we’re not addicted?

‘Expertly splices comedy, opinion and enlightenment’
The Guardian

‘Effortlessly amusing, highly watchable charm’
★★★★
The Times

‘Very funny’
★★★★
Chortle

'Infectious laughs...deftly delivered' ★★★★ Evening Standard

'Martin has been turning out impressive work on the circuit for a while without quite getting the attention she deserves. Now’s the time for her to come out of the shadows' ★★★★ Metro

'Mae Martin has a bright future in comedy and proves labels mean nothing when somebody is universally funny' ★★★★★ Daily Mirror


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News and Reviews for this Show

August 27, 2017  A Younger Theatre
Mae Martin’s show is called Dope for, I think, two reasons. One, she talks a lot about drugs, and two, she sometimes likes to give a teenager-y, attention-seeking vibe, the vibe of someone who would use the word “dope” in conversation to mean “good”. An extremely talented comedian who should certainly be at a bigger venue, charging more than a tenner like all the rest of them, Martin always puts on a more welcoming, free show. This time she’s in a small room with boiling temperatures in the basement of the diner-like City Café.

Her show this year consists of a sort of romp through her childhood from age 11 to now. As always, it’s packed, as Fringe-goers have learned that this Bieber-esque, impish Canadian consistently turns out fun, clever comedy full of brilliant characters, keen observation and great points about sexuality and gender. As usual, there is real heart to her show and everything is underscored by an exploration of important issues. As she observes in one of her self-aware asides: “here comes the bit that gets you the good Guardian reviews”.

In Dope, Martin turns to topics perhaps more serious and Guardian-y than we are used to from her. Beginning with light-hearted anecdotes about how strange she was as a child, she then moves into telling the story of her leaving school to pursue comedy at 15, falling into drugs, being kicked out by her parents and going to rehab. All of this is related to us in her characteristic, please-like-me way, with great physicality and timing. Martin excels in so many areas, from doing voices to tying her jokes together neatly with things mentioned earlier in the show. Above all, she knows how to strike a good rapport with her audience and draw us into her world.

Mae Martin became a stand-up comedian in her early teens. As she’s now around 30, I can hardly still call her a wunderkind. But she does seem to have kept hold of a kind of childlike joy. Of course, not all her observations about the world are positive, but I did not meet a more charming or more vaguely optimistic comedian this Fringe and am fairly certain that the entire audience left wanting to be her best friend. Refreshingly non-political and consistently hilarious, she may well be my pick of the Fringe in terms of stand-up. I dare you to find a more likeable comedian with a more unassuming, warmer personality, or more skill at turning personal anecdotes and observations into comedy gems. Click Here

August 26, 2017 British Comedy Guide
British Comedy Guide recommended show 2017
Mae Martin's show is one of the major word-of-mouth successes this year. It's a compendium of her obsessions; from Bette Midler, to performing stand-up, to much darker addictions. Mae steers us through them effortlessly with laughs aplenty and firm assurances of her recovery - it's OK, she even makes her own lasagnes now!

British Comedy Guide Click Here

August 26, 2017  The Scotsman
Imparted by an increasingly mature, accomplished storyteller, Dope is essentially Mae Martin’s origins story, and a richly absorbing one at that.

Hooked on addiction, it was borne from her mother’s suggestion that her recent listlessness might be attributable to her not having stimulants for the first time since childhood. Characterised, rather unnecessarily, as a French-accented shrimp residing at the back of her brain, Martin’s addictive personality first manifested itself in her devotion to Bette Midler, the pre-pubescent
erotic thrill and negative impact upon her education of this obsession retrospectively convincing her that she was indeed, addicted. From that initial dopamine high, the Canadian progressed to a teenage passion for comedy, bitten by the bug when her parents snuck her into a club at 11 and she got laughs after ending up on stage. Becoming a devotee of the Second City improv troupe, to the extent of furiously penning sexualised fan blogs about one of the cast, she dropped out of school and became a workaholic stand-up herself. Then just as quickly, she found herself getting into drugs and dealing. Despite the intensity of her early life, this curious comic doesn’t over-dramatise her tale, nor couch it in too much sober navel-gazing, finding an entertaining balance of anecdote and analysis, ultimately allowing one of her giddier fantasies to bring the show to an uplifting climax. Though persuasive in her self-diagnosis, Martin resists easy conclusions, lingering questions about her sexuality suggesting there are further chapters of this story to be written. Or, more probably, adapted for the airwaves, as a version of this excellent free show has been picked up by Radio 4, who are increasingly making Martin a fixture. Click Here

August 26, 2017  The Times
This fresh-faced Canadian is one of the nine acts in the running for this year’s lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and it doesn’t take long to see why. Mae Martin takes to the stage with such a winning mixture of energy and informality — very Canadian — that even though you wonder whether there will be a payoff to an involved opening story about falling in love with Bette Midler, at the age of six, you trust her to know what she’s doing. Martin really does.

Dope is a beautifully controlled look at a lifetime of addictions: from her first sexual stirrings through to her first trip to a comedy club, at the age of 11.

After being brought up on stage and used as a ventriloquist’s dummy by a comic, she makes 160 visits in a year to a sketch show at Second City in Toronto. Soon she’s making her own stand-up debut, aged 14, precociously clutching a cigarette because that’s what stand-ups do, right?

And then she is leaving school at 15 to be a comic, try drugs, sell drugs. Her liberal parents kick her out of the family home, get her to go to rehab.

And Martin relays this all with an honesty, charm and convivial intellectuality that she makes look easy, but which only the most self-assured comics can pull off. Now 30, she talks about the games of addiction, the science of addiction, about how she’s found that relationships can be addictions too. She playfully warns us about the dark, difficult bits in the show without flipping into glibness as she does so.

She makes her story hopeful, and joyous, yet not for a second saccharine. It’s a remarkable balancing act. Even in this stiflingly hot basement room, I didn’t want the hour to end. Click Here

August 24, 2017  The Guardian
You might think Mae Martin’s appearance on this week’s Edinburgh Comedy award shortlist crowns the emergence of an exciting new talent. Scratch the “new”: now 30, the Canadian has been doing this for more than 15 years. Her show Dope takes us back to the standup apprenticeship she served as a misfit adolescent in Toronto. The way she tells it, comedy was an entry drug to, er, drugs. Teenage Martin went on the stage, off the rails and into rehab. Half a lifetime on, she explores that period, and her own obsessive personality, in a likable and thoughtful set from a performer who’s made the overlap between personal revelation and social/anthropological commentary her own.

A remark from her mother triggers the soul search. Mae, says mum, always needs something to be obsessed with. Once upon a time, it was Bette Midler: Martin turns that gawky infatuation into five big-hitting minutes at the top of the show. Then, it was comedy: Martin first visited a standup club aged 11, and was soon stalking the resident sketch group and appearing (“Local Pre-Teen Obsessed with Comedy”) in the local news. The self-conscious tics have largely disappeared from mature Martin’s comedy, but self-mortification plays an effective role here, as she describes the monomaniacal nerd she used to be.

But it gets worse, when Martin is introduced to drugs – and is dealing within 48 hours. That’s how obsessive personalities work, she explains. The titular Dope doesn’t refer only to narcotics, but to the dopamine deficiency with which Martin has diagnosed herself. With reference to rat experiments and bullied monkeys, she speculates about her brain chemistry and the affinities between romantic relationships and recreational drugs.

It’s all kept frothy: Martin is no doom-and-gloom merchant, forever reassuring us that she’s fine now and wasn’t that bad at the time. The hair-raising narrative sometimes suggests otherwise, as teenage Mae checks into rehab, and (in a standout routine) grownup Mae panics when cocaine is offered at a party. This is all reported back in bright, chatty style, as if we’re being updated on Martin’s ongoing research project into her own idiosyncrasies. She’s got theories but few certainties; she’s interested to share and you feel she’d welcome feedback. And now she’s got some, in the form of an award nod and the consensus that she’s made her best show yet. Local Pre-Teen did not humiliate herself in vain. Click Here

August 23, 2017  The List
Absorbing and energetic set from Canadian star on the rise

This talented Canadian comedian has been knocking around the Fringe for a few years, but her 2017 show is a revelation. With an easy patter, instant likeability and energetic wit, Mae Martin's blend of storytelling and stand-up is one of the festival's most delightful hours.

The title of her show, Dope, seems misleading: what would this butter-wouldn't-melt face know about drugs? She begs to differ. After what seems like a fairly standard phone conversation with her mother, she launches into a mesmerising tale about the paths her addictive personality has led her down, from serious drug use to intense relationships and on to live comedy. We're lucky Martin ditched the first and stuck with the last.

The combination of her effortless delivery and her wide-eyed neurosis gives Dope an electric atmosphere; she has everyone in this cramped basement on the edge of their seat as she tells her absorbing personal tale. There's definitely a feeling here that Martin's on the edge of something big. We're likely to be hearing a lot more from her in the future, and that is a very good thing. Click Here

August 19, 2017  Fest
Having successfully reached 30, in Dope (4 stars) Martin is looking back at her life and questioning whether she has an addictive personality or not; the obsessive part of her brain characterised here as a little shrimp – pink, cute and monstrous. After the evidence she gives it doesn't take a psychiatrist to conclude that the answer has to be 'yes'.

She cites the beginnings of her obsessive behaviour in an outrageous crush, aged six, on Bette Midler, conjuring a vivid image of herself choosing to dress like a middle aged man and topped by her home cut pudding bowl hair. Martin's wonderfully frank about those innocent burgeoning sexual feelings where you're too young to know what's going on but know that it makes you "want to be physically alone to think about them". The routine includes a gloriously uncomfortable (for us, not her) fruity dream she has about the Hocus Pocus witches, which is only okay because she is the six-year-old concerned. Moving away from Bette (though not entirely) she moves to stalk a comedy club and its inhabitants and precociously takes up standup herself.

Over the years Martin has developed a deliciously quirky style, and her depiction here of herself as kooky young weirdo in training makes an evocative picture. But the meat of the show, it turns out—the bit that "gets you good reviews in the Guardian"—is her candid depiction of her drug addiction. Martin's a reassuring presence as she takes us up this thorny path, constantly qualifying her behaviour and reassuring that she's pretty much okay now so there's no need to worry. It's a show that's not only likely to garner good reviews in the Guardian but surely is the stuff of award nods, too. Click Here

August 18, 2017  Funny Women
After last year’s Edinburgh show in which Mae collected questions from the audience to improvise around, it’s pleasing to see a whole new show, Dope. Mae is one of my favourite comedians on the circuit today and she is greatly skilled at rousing huge affection from her audience, so it’s no surprise that the City Cafe is packed for her show.

Dope is about Mae’s addictive personality, beginning with a Bette Midler obsession before turning to comedy and then drug use. I get the feeling if she hadn’t discovered the massively witty Bette Midler, Mae might had turned out a lot more earnest about her obsessions. I say this because the dedication she recalls in her Bette fandom strikes me to be that of an extremely serious kid. So I suppose we have Bette Midler to thank for the comedian Mae Martin we have today (and Wendy Martin – give it up for Wendy Martin).

Mae seems to have achieved a newfound maturity around her performance. She’s still the same Mae, but less apologetic. In fact if anything Dope reveals how much Mae has been holding back in the years she has been performing stand up, considering how personal all her shows seem to be. An extremely intelligent, quick and likeable performer, Mae manages to interact spontaneously with the audience while exerting impressive control over her show.

Seeing Dope has made me realise just how much control Mae seems to have on how vulnerable she actually is with an audience. Some of the stories she relates are ones she has touched upon in previous shows, but it seems she is ready now to be more intimate. Mae also sweetly makes the point that these experiences are all specific to her, some people can enjoy drugs and/or Bette Midler without ever losing control. Which is one of the reasons I like her shows so much, she’s addicted to making them so inclusive. Click Here

August 16, 2017  The Skinny
"You feel flat right now because you're not addicted to anything or anyone," Martin's mother casually slips into conversation. It's true, the comedian admits, as she takes us through the many obsessions and addictions that's made her the person she is today.

Martin gives a magnetic performance as she charts her fascination with Bette Midler, to low-level comedian stalking, and rehab. The intricacies with which she recounts these periods of time make her story even more watchable, whilst her evident improv training keeps her delivery bright and breezy – always ensuring it's never too dark a show with wry asides galore.

It's an all round fascinating account of both substance abuse and the idea that you can be addicted to people; Martin even compares a breakup to initial sobriety. There's even a lesson about brain chemicals thrown in, with brain shrimps that niggle when a new obsession begins. This is a fantastic, stimulating hour which will rightly earn Martin a new horde of fans. Click Here

August 14, 2017 Beyond the Joke
UK-based Canadian comic Mae Martin has been building up an impressive head of steam in the last few years and she has really come good with her latest show, Dope. Martin’s material has always been pretty personal, but here she digs deep into past obsessions to produce easily her best set yet.

This skinny, energetic performer reveals quickly onstage that she has an addictive personality. Some of those addictions have been more damaging than others. Being hooked on certain singers is not against the law, but some of the other things she got up to in her youth might have been more questionable. She looks pretty innocent, but it turns out she was a bit of a fiend back in the day.

There are various big things Martin has been obsessed with too - from comedy to love (and the title of the show is a clue to something else). And, as she suggests towards the end of Dope, perhaps we are living in a society where being addicted to something is becoming the norm. We crave the Dopamine hit of pleasure we get from highs. Look at the way we can’t resist sneaking a peak at our smartphones all the time, hoping for a retweet or like.

If this sounds like a serious show it certainly isn’t. Martin has grown into a formidable, charismatic performer, nervily jerking around the stage and making a funny buzzing noise to represent the “shrimp in her brain” that needs to be fed by a fix of something.

There is lots here to enjoy, from her flirty banter with the audience to her stories about being a teenage oddball on the Toronto stand-up scene. She went to so many gigs – and dressed so weirdly – that she was famous even before she was a performer. The club had a special seat for her and a local paper wrote about her. She even has the cutting to prove it.

I’d like to have had a bit more background about why Martin thinks she has an addictive streak. Is it nature? Is it nurture? Her parents – who she has also talked about in previous shows – sound pretty bohemian. Maybe being off-the-wall is in Martin’s genes. Maybe nobody knows the definitive answer anyway. This is a small criticism though. Dope is a show where you leave not just with a smile on your face but where you feel you have really got to know the person you have just been enjoying. Click Here

August 10, 2017  Fresh Air
4.5*

Mae Martin’s new show gives her audience a first for her: an autobiographical show. Martin’s new show is definitely carried by her distinctive voice, fizzing with energy yet uncertain, enthusiastic to get to the point, yet not sure where that point is. Her bittersweet show is peppered with absurd asides, and although this can make the show feel almost flippant, Martin still manages to drive the emotional impact home. On top of this balancing act, she doesn’t sacrifice the high-energy mood that she usually brings to her shows; impressive considering the show is about her struggle with addiction.
Martin’s show ends with a narrative ambiguity that is oddly fitting for the arc of the show, and her finish is one of the most memorable I’ve seen in ages. Her scattergun energy gave her routines a force that is hard to find elsewhere. A freewheeling hour is brought to a close with a routine that ratchets up faster than I could register, and despite some loose ends, the ending feels oddly satisfying. Martin’s show would be a great choice for anyone looking for mile-a-minute narrative stand-up, or perhaps something with a more optimistic outlook. Click Here

April 10, 2017  Beat Magazine
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