Spoiler Alert: This article will discuss the plot of the comedy special Mae Martin: SAP.
Mae Martin: SAP is a stand-up comedy special that was released in 2023 on Netflix. Mae Martin is a trans comedian who won the hearts of many through their comedy and autobiographical TV series Feel Good.
SAP is a light-hearted, yet important comedy special that touches upon Mae Martin’s gender journey and their relationship to drugs and their family. Martin has a way of storytelling that invites you into an hour of trans joy, awkward encounters, and Canadian and British humour.
Our Rooms are like our Brains
One aspect that stood out to me particularly is their simile about rooms and our brains. According to Mae Martin, we construct our brain’s identity based on our experiences the same way we decorate our rooms based on our identity. In their words, we ‘furnish our minds with experiences that we collect to then build what we think of as our identity’. Meaning, humans have a constant need for individuality and uniqueness.
This association of identity being reflected in one’s bedroom is a beautiful way to convey the importance of uniqueness. We strive towards being different, towards being ourselves. However, those that are by the majority seen as too different, are often discriminated against. Our uniqueness and individuality should be celebrated, it is what makes us, us.
Mae Martin explains the importance of Gender Affirming Healthcare
Besides their funny story of bumping into their ex-partner, Martin dedicates a part of the comedy special to their gender journey. They declared a nostalgic longing for a time before puberty. Because puberty is ‘where it all went wrong’.
For Mae Martin, puberty triggered their gender dysphoria. They felt quite androgynous as a child. However, once puberty began, their body started to change. They were not able to be their androgynous self anymore.
If you do not fit into the Western gender binary of man and woman, you are automatically ostracised from your peers and authority figures. This was precisely the comedian’s experience. Because they were dysphoric, they started doing drugs at a young age. It was a way for them to get out of their body and ease their gender dysphoria. Sadly, this led to a serious problem with drug addiction.
However, after being in recovery and sober for a while, they finally had gender affirming top surgery and began taking a low dose of testosterone. While they still experience feelings of self-destruction, their mental health and overall well-being has significantly improved because they were able to access this life-saving care. The past year has been ‘the best year’ of their life, Martin states. Gender affirming healthcare gave them ‘the absence of agony’.
The Art of Comedy does not need Bigotry
Mae Martin: SAP is the perfect example that the art form of comedy is not dead. It is more than possible to be a comedian without relying on bigoted jokes. Not once does Martin punch down, needing a racist, transphobic, homophobic or sexist remark to perfect their joke. Their comedy works because they are aware of current political issues.
Mae Martin acknowledges what is happening in the US regarding trans rights and lack of access to gender affirming healthcare. They debunk the myth of trans people being a recent phenomenon by stating that ‘as long as there’s been human civilization … there’s been variances in gender’. Many different cultures in pre-colonial times recognised third, and fourth genders.
In reality, the gender binary is a recent ‘colonial fad’, not trans people. However, homophobia and transphobia are colonial constructs that have led to our society’s rigid gender roles. This insight into our colonialist past, helps Mae Martin form much more complex jokes that touch upon important social issues through comedy. That is the essence and art of comedy: the capacity to reveal an honest truth about our current world through comedy, without needing to make fun of marginalised communities for it.
Watch Mae Martin: SAP on Netflix
Martin spends the last couple minutes explaining the title of their comedy special: SAP. It refers to tree sap. Life is like being stuck between two horrible options. However, even in a horrible situation, you can still find beauty and joy in the little things, like tree sap. It is worth enjoying all the sap we can and cultivate our happiness. Doing comedy is sap for Mae Martin.
If you can, take an hour out of your day and make sure to watch Mae Martin: SAP on Netflix. It is a captivating, hilarious, and transformative stand-up comedy special! If you want to see more of Martin’s work, you can watch their TV series Feel Good, also available on Netflix.