Good comedians are funny in different ways at different times. Great comedians are funny in different ways all at once. Maria Bamford is one of the greats. The Duluth native has made more than good with dozens of television and movie appearances, but it's her widely acknowledged ascension into the highest echelons of standup comedy that stands out as her greatest credit. Bamford doesn't just tell jokes, she breathes life into them. It starts with her trademark elaborate characterizations. They're not impressions per se, more like complete transformations. It's like watching a one-woman sitcom—a genre she practically invented with the web series The Maria Bamford Show. Within this milieu of alter egos, she weaves gossamer threads of neurotic fragility into vibrant and ridiculous tapestries of self-effacing absurdity. Don't let the delicate speech patterns fool you; executing these high-wire antics requires a ferocious commitment to the craft far beyond what many of her noisier counterparts bring to the table. Bottom line: Few performers in any medium juxtapose pain and lightness as vividly as Bamford. If any of this sounds hyperbolic, it's not. In addition to always being a homecoming of sorts, Bamford's week at Acme represents some of the best of what comedy as a concept has to offer in our time. 18+.
Sept. 13-17, 8 p.m.; Sept. 16-17, 10:30 p.m., 2011