Stand-up comedian Caitlin Gill begins her debut comedy album, Major, by proclaiming that she’s glad to be home in San Francisco. She’s recently moved to Los Angeles, a statement that she repeats a couple times, just in case the audience was confused: “That’s right — me, Caitlin, 38 years old, 6 foot 1, 200 pounds with A-cups, ready to crush it in showbiz!”
Nowadays, most people expect stand-up comedians to curate onstage personas, fictional versions of their personalities that they can play up while they perform and discard in daily life. As her summation of herself at the top of her act suggests, Gill isn’t all that interested in personas. She prefers instead to roll out her raw personality, with the volume dialed up about 10 notches. Major is a gleefully self-aware, sharply funny portrait of that personality — a debut that affirms Gill’s ability to garner laughs at either end of California.
Gill’s understanding of her own identity lends itself well to one of the album’s most prevalent topics: modern-day conceptions of femininity. Gill informs audiences that her figure would make her a hot commodity if she lived in a different century — “in 17th-century Holland, I just look RICH!” — before an extended harangue on shopping for plus-size clothing in Target. There’s also an instructional segment wherein Gill informs the men in the audience that they should always pay for dinner on dates. “It’s math!” the comedian stresses in the loud, exasperated intonation that populates much of her set. “She spent half her salary to sit down there looking like that! Just pay for the steak!”
Gill’s knack for observational comedy isn’t her only selling point. She also boasts an impressive vocal range that enlivens many of her punchlines, stretching from cartoonish caricatures to her uncanny mimicry of a “valley girl” dialect. A relatively vanilla complaint about how long it takes for mobile checks to deposit becomes a lengthy impression of a nautical captain searching for account and routing numbers; Gill’s humdrum recollections of places she’s traveled mean the audience gets treated to her interpretation of what “bros” in Portland sound like. These tangents are a joy to listen to, showing off Gill’s willingness to indulge in theatrics and her arsenal of comedic characters while maintaining her loud, confrontational style of delivery.
Admittedly, Gill seems to lose a bit of steam toward the album’s end, finishing with a sequence of material that revolves around her idiosyncratic father. Riffs about her dad’s inability to use modern washing machines or his obsession with parking spaces are perfectly funny, but they lack the energy of Gill’s earlier meditations on her own persona and experiences.
But this shouldn’t detract from the heights that Gill reaches in this album — heights that rely on the combination of her unapologetic onstage demeanor and clever writing. Gill closes her act by enumerating one of her foremost beliefs: “If you have a story to tell, tell it with gusto. Even if it didn’t need to be a story.”
Major certainly follows this precept to a T, proving that if Gill is an expert in anything, it’s imbuing even the most trivial of things with enviable zest. One can only hope that after this debut, Gill still has lots of stories left to tell.