Mae Martin’s Snow-Globes Joke Is an Instant Classic

Mae Martin in SAP. Photo: Rachel Pick/Netflix

I mean this in the best possible way: Mae Martin tells stories like a 7 year old bursting into a room to tell their parents about something exciting they just saw outside. Their stories are better crafted, obviously; they’re compelling, kinetic, and anchored by fleshed-out beats. But there’s a breathless quality to them. Martin is constantly interrupting themself and referring to the audience as “guys.” “I have so much to tell you, genuinely,” they gush at the beginning of their stand-up special SAP, out now on Netflix. Martin’s excitable brand of storytelling makes the special’s best observational chunk — a bit about identity formation and the transactional nature of social interactions — hit harder.

This bit starts with a deceptively flimsy premise that necessitates a preface of “Stay with me.” “Don’t you think it’s kind of embarrassing that we’re adults and we still have rooms?” Martin asks, an observation sparked by spending an excess of time indoors during the pandemic. “We’re like, ‘This is my room,’” they say, affecting a voice that’s a cross between a child and an alien. But then Martin twists this into something more profound. “I think what I find so embarrassing about it is the way we decorate our rooms to reflect our individuality. We’re like, ‘I’m me,’” they continue, returning to the child-alien voice. “‘I’m myself in my room.’ It’s so embarrassing. ‘I have one Himalayan salt lamp. Yes I do, and I’m me. I have my picture on the wall …’ And when you finish reading a book, you never get rid of the book. You’re like, ‘I put it on the shelf. That is my personality on display for all to see. No one else is me.’”

Then Martin heightens the bit further. “This is a little abstract, but don’t you think that, in a way, our brains and our minds are like our rooms, and we furnish our minds with experiences that we collect to then build what we think of as our identity and our selves?” they ask. “I always visualize every experience that we collect as like a little novelty snow globe. We’re just going around being like, ‘One time I saw Antonio Banderas at the airport. Yes, I did. And I’m myself. And no one else is me.’” They pantomime palming an imaginary snow globe and placing it on a shelf.

“I really noticed this coming out of the pandemic — all human interaction is just basically taking turns showing each other our snow globes … Someone will be showing you their snow globe, and you’re trying to be a good listener. It’s like a story about a party they went to five years ago, and you’re like, ‘Yes, and you are you as well. How wonderful to be yourself as well.’ But the whole time, your eyes are just darting to your own shelf — a hundred percent, the whole time. You’re like ‘Hmmm. Yes. No. Yes,’ waiting for your moment to be like, ‘And me as well! I have one!’” Martin stamps this punch line by holding out an imaginary snow globe, widening their eyes, and staring directly into the camera.

Through subtle character work, precise act-outs, a touch of surrealism, and sound insight about human nature, Martin sells this bit perfectly. But it’s also the ideal union of message and messenger. Telling one story after another, Martin hands their snow globes to the audience with the same eagerness as the character in this bit. Boiled down to its essence, SAP — most stand-up specials, really — is little more than an hour of the comedian repeating, “I’m me.” But not every special has a bit that features this level of craft. Martin’s snow-globes bit is like a metaphysical version of George Carlin’s classic bit “A Place for My Stuff” that doubles as one of the best jokes in recent memory inspired by the pandemic.

Mae Martin’s Snow-Globes Joke Is an Instant Classic