In case you haven’t heard, twee is possibly on its way back into the zeitgeist, thanks to millennial nostalgia and the cyclical nature of pop culture. Maybe you’re super excited, digging out your long-buried owl print dress and Mary Janes, or maybe you’ll bury your head in the sand for this trend.
Canadian comic Luba Magnus’ debut record, Baba Luba, feels like a harbinger of the twee renaissance, beyond being a solid half hour of comedy in and of itself. She works as an animator, with her art being featured on CBC and Funny Or Die, and at the beginning of February released her first comedy album on Howl & Roar Records.
Magnus takes to the mic with a nervous enthusiasm that immediately endears her to the audience; the first word out of her mouth is literally “Wowee!” Far from being cloying, though, the comedian makes her set equal parts clever and nonsensical with her creative word play. Magnus explains how deep her love of words runs in the set, throwing it back to her days growing up in the tiny town of Port Colborne, where switching around the letters on signs was one of the few ways to stave off boredom (other than drugs). Her vivid use of imagery also strengthens the album, whether she’s describing how asparagus grows or the intricacies of whale death. Her playful and hilarious use of language keeps listeners on their toes.
Some of the album’s best moments come from Magnus’ crowd work, even though it is sparing. Interacting with the audience, she gives the impression of a kindergarten teacher after hours, delivering jokes about anal sex with the same pep as someone teaching kids about different shapes for the first time. These call-and-response bits, including a goofy mashup of Edgar Allen Poe and Twisted Sister, make even the casual listener at home feel all the more engaged in Baba Luba.
Like many comedians, Magnus is self-deprecating (even her final line of the record is a dig at herself), and she integrates this tendency into her set in a way that feels utterly genuine and funny. She sometimes stutters, and by leaning into this finds even more comic gold.
At the end of the album, Magnus delivers one-liners over languid guitar, a move reminiscent of Garfunkel and Oates in the best way possible. Much like Baba Luba itself, which clocks in at just over 30 minutes in length, these jokes are short and sweet.
Life is a kaleidoscope of awful right now, but a half hour with Baba Luba is a refreshing break from the confines of reality. Magnus’ imaginative jokes and effervescent goofiness are sure to make new listeners into fervent fans.