Amy Bugg’s Debut Comedy Special Is a DIY Delight

Comedy Reviews Amy Bugg
Amy Bugg’s Debut Comedy Special Is a DIY Delight

Stereotypical Canadian politeness can mask a caustic mind. Case in point: Amy Bugg, the Toronto-based comic who just put out her debut half hour as the stand-up special The Comedy Zone and the album Little Stinkers. Her acerbic wit bubbles just beneath the surface of her self-effacing delivery, ready to scorch whatever target crosses her path: realtors, wombats, her own flaky skin—the list goes on. 

Bugg’s stage presence is shrugging and understated, with a decidedly nerdy vibe (as one friend told her, she “looks like [she] teaches piano to books”). But there isn’t an anxious undertone to her set like you might expect; rather, Bugg’s self-deprecating jokes and unassuming demeanor are the product of a comedic confidence honed over 10 years of doing stand-up. Don’t you dare underestimate Bugg. 

Both The Comedy Zone and Little Stinkers—the differences between the special and album are few, but I’ll touch on that later—showcase Bugg’s observational sense of humor, which is rife with word play and enthusiastic goofiness. Most of her set is made up of self-contained bits analyzing the world at large rather than personal stories, but we still get a good introduction to who Bugg is. She’s an accountant, a kale-hater, a one-time dog impersonator, and an amateur beat boxer. Bugg is also just a great time on stage.

Between her colorful metaphors and uproarious turns of phrase, Bugg really has a way with words. She makes spot-on observations throughout the set—the type of thoughts you may have had in passing, but that Bugg has rendered even funnier as she’s dug into them. Her descriptions are succinct but evocative, making her comedy seem all the more effortless. Similarly, her economical physical comedy is effective because it’s so sparing; a simple hand movement or shoulder shimmy-shake has the crowd in stitches.

Throughout the half hour, Bugg walks the tricky tightrope of crafting clever jokes and staying silly. One moment she’ll be doing a science-based bit, and the next she’s joking about farts. Now that’s range for you. 

While The Comedy Zone and Little Stinkers are nearly identical, the former graces us with an intro, outro, and some playful cut scenes. In video form, the special is framed as a Twilight Zone parody, and Bugg’s mad scientist wig and fake mustache bring me back to early DIY YouTube sketches in the best way possible. Not all of the interludes are home runs joke-wise, but it’s so fun seeing Bugg try out the host character that it doesn’t really matter. 

Bugg saves her best bit for last, ending her debut on a definite high. Hopefully this is the first of many ventures into The Comedy Zone.

Little Stinkers is available wherever you listen to comedy and The Comedy Zone is streaming for free on YouTube.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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