Published Nov 19, 2018After taking a considerable break from standup to pursue writing for television, California-raised comedian Emily Heller has returned with a wonderfully funny, insightful and revealing album.
An Emmy-nominated and multi-faceted comedic voice, Heller primarily writes for HBO's darkly comic Bill Hader drama series, Barry, and has also worked in writers' rooms for most of America's largest networks. But it's particularly impactful to hear from Heller directly, as she knows herself, and her voice is confidently clever.
On Pasta, Heller deals with the elephant icon in the room right away, telling a crowd in Portland that Donald Trump's GOP presidency reminds her a lot of the plot of Air Bud, which turns out to be a rather effective analogy, As she says, the plight of her country and its direction deeply affects her and has even brought her to tears of rage and anguish. But she offers her perspective, less to vent, and more to commiserate, which is an underlying theme of her work generally.
Heller frankly discusses personal experiences with therapy and the medical necessity that brought her to the unlikely conclusion that she should probably start working out. Her writing here is open and hilarious and feels at least a little teachable; in her own disarming manner, she crushes any stigmas people in distress may suffer as a result of their own anxiety or mental health issues by owning her own in a compelling and entertaining way. She's been there, she knows some of us have too, so let's talk about that trip, okay?
Though some of the fodder here might be familiar to comedy fans — self-care, dating and relationships, friends having kids — in Heller's thirtysomething hands, these topics feel fresh and even refreshing when contemplated from her wise yet sharp perspective. Heller suffers no fools but that includes herself; on Pasta, she asserts herself as a comedian who knows and likes herself, which she proves is a rather exemplary and very healthy way to live one's life. Laugh at yourself sure, but love yourself too. (Kill Rock Stars)