JFL40: Rosebud Baker Makes Light Of Dark Stuff


Stand-up comic Rosebud Baker has noticed something different about audiences since she has returned to the stage following months of COVID-related lockdowns.

“Before the pandemic people were a little sensitive regarding subject matter. Now, I feel like people… I wouldn’t describe it as sensitive… I would say people are a little squeamish,” she explained. “They’re just uncomfortable. They’re not necessarily offended, they’re just kind of squeamish… like, nervous to laugh at things.”

But, Baker gets it. “There’s part of your brain that shuts off when you haven’t been around other people. It’s going to take some time,” she said. “I also feel that people do need… they want to laugh, they want to get out there, they want to reflect on everything that’s been going on and they want some relief from it – so that’s what I’m hoping to give people.”

Baker will have plenty of opportunities during Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival. In addition to appearing at The Marc Maron Gala and the Variety 10 Comics To Watch showcase, she is doing her new show for five nights at the deliciously seedy Café Cleopatra, where fans will see how she follows her 2021 debut special, Whiskey Fists.

“It took me nine years to put that much material together so the speed that I put this new hour together has kind of shocked me and I’m just hoping that it delivers,” she said. “It is very current. It has to do with everything that I’ve done in the last year-and-a-half and everything that I’ve been thinking about.”

Pressure? Not really. “I like having people look forward to my shows,” Baker admitted. “It’s more encouraging than anything else.”

Whiskey Fists, which is available on YouTube, took its name from an abusive ex who was typically too drunk to land a punch. Baker joked about COVID nurses, abortion and the tragic death of her sister.

Making light of dark situations is what she does – and she does it hilariously well.

“There’s a catharsis and a bravery to kind of just really laughing at everything that we’ve been through,” Baker said. “I can think of the saddest parts of my life and it just feels like I have to laugh. And that’s where my comedy comes from.”

And, for the most part, Baker is poking fun at herself and her experiences rather than going for laughs at the expense of others.

“I like to make things personal. I’m speaking from my own perspective,” she explained. “I’m not going to tell jokes about being gay and Jewish, you know what I mean? That can be done – you can make jokes about other people – but it’s best, for me, to keep it personal.

“The more I’m sharing with people the more license they have to really be themselves and to laugh at the things they’ve been through, and there’s a catharsis there. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Is there anything she wouldn’t put in her act? “No,” replied Baker. “There’s bits that I’ve been, ‘I’m not ready to write about that yet,’ but I’ve never had something happen in my life where I’ve been, ‘Oh I’ll never write a bit about that.’

“I wouldn’t be a comic if I thought that way.”

The New York-based comic said she “so stoked” to be coming back to Montreal for JFL, where she first appeared in the New Faces showcase in 2018. Baker is looking forward to “spending time with other comics, goofing off and exploring the city.”

Soon after returning home, she will begin her second season as a writer on Saturday Night Live. "You’re with people who are at the top of their game, they are so good at what they do,” she said of working around Studio 8H at 30 Rock. “You are learning so much every day, not just the writing but in production and how a show really works.

“I really feel very, very lucky. Very lucky.”

Rosebud Baker performs her new show July 26-30 at Café Cleopatra. She also appears in The Marc Maron Gala on July 30 at Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts. Click here for tickets. Just For Laughs runs July 13-31.

Virgin Radio & CHOM are sponsors of the Just For Laughs festival, which is partly owned by parent company Bell Media. This article was adapted from a feature article at Pop Goes The News.

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