I’m tired. Everyone is so tired. And so is Sara Schaefer. True, she said so after the three uninterrupted minutes of dancing she did to open the show, followed by a solid minute of heavy breathing into the microphone. Regardless, she admitted that she, too, is exhausted from simply being alive in this incredibly stressful time.
Schaefer’s delivery reflects that feeling of just being fucking done, but in a very charming way. Her on-stage laid back style does not lack for energy, though – she is entirely unafraid to get loud, especially when she demonstrated the demonic scream she emits during the frequent night terrors she suffers from.
Schaefer, raised as a Southern Baptist someone in the Bible Belt, asked if anyone in the audience has a similar upbringing. Unsurprisingly, the small Brooklyn crowd fell silent in response. She bases much of her material on her frighteningly religious childhood, yet her stories, while in many ways singular to that kind of upbringing, have a certain universality to them.
She tells the story of her experience at Hobby Lobby, a religious right company who famously won a Supreme Court case that allows them to refuse to provide certain health coverage – namely, birth control to their employees- and a place that a self-described hardcore libtard like Schaefer could never shop at in good conscience. And yet, the perfect piece she needed to complete her crafting nook she’d spent all day looking for was only to be found there. And she could not resist. And honestly, who among us can?
And there’s where the not entirely surprising philosophical ambition of her show comes through. She owns up to her own hypocrisy and acknowledges the impossibility of being pure. And the concept of purity sheds light on the obvious fondness she still holds for faith, though definitely not in the brainwashy way she grew up with. In her characteristic low-key approach, she suggests that the Christians should, simply, “Take it down just one notch.”
Through that and other such tales, she pokes fun at the absurdity inherent in the world and in all our lives, including her own. She doesn’t shy away from the political, obviously, but her storytelling is so nuanced- even gentle- that it doesn’t feel like political comedy. Which makes the show not side-splittingly funny, but her presence is so likeable and amusing that it’s better than that. In the intimate Union Hall, where maybe 40 people sat close to the small stage, Schaefer put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in a year that was particularly brutal for my fellow Brooklynites and I.