St. Lou Fringe Festival’s “GOOD” lives up to its name

| Staff Writer

People always say humor is a good way to deal with pain. Never mind that this pain comes from your federally prosecuted sister, a perpetual existential crisis and parents who would threaten to kill themselves if you did not behave well. Fortunately, St. Louis comedian Amy Milton spins these tumultuous life events into a sharp, brutally honest and insightful one-hour stand-up show, “GOOD.”

Milton performed “GOOD” on Saturday night in front of an intimate audience—her third show at the Kranzberg Arts Center as part of the fifth annual St. Lou Fringe Festival, a platform for independent producers to bring their projects to different stages in St. Louis. In the company of a “Schlafly wine” bottle, Milton kicked off her set, in which she highlighted memorable moments from her childhood. Much of these moments were influenced by her life growing up in a very Christian household.

“I’m going to start by talking about my family because this is an hour-long therapy session that I tricked you into paying for,” Milton joked. Throughout her set, Milton emphasized her religiously devoted family to criticize certain issues within Christianity, like abortion and marriage. “I’m pretty sure my mom [secretly] prayed for miscarriage,” she blurts out without ever holding back. She’s not a bitter atheist, she reassures the audience—she simply has many questions that were never addressed during her upbringing.

In a way, Milton’s set is a heightened representation of the many questions and doubts we have about religion that we never fully understand until we are older. In a witty and elaborate analogy, she compares her belief in Christianity to a world in which everyone is addicted to heroin and where people admire her for her severe addiction, until she stops and realizes how bad the addiction was for her.

In one of her incisive anecdotes, she talked about her relationship with her sister who, as Milton found out, was a heroin addict. The anecdote concludes in Milton having to jump out her apartment window as she tried to run away from drug dealers who threatened to kill Milton and her sister unless they paid $13,000. It is through these dark stories where Milton’s humor shines through the most. She smoothly navigates the fine line between a sad memoir and an uproarious account of events when she zooms into those details that make for a good punch line.

Milton doesn’t shy away from exploring her own personal battles. After realizing that her obsession between good and evil led her nowhere, she went through a crisis period in which she contemplated suicide and the meaning of it all. “Marriage is permanent and happiness is for when you die,” she repeatedly said, when referring to the influence of her parents’ marriage into her personal life.

“GOOD” is an impressive feat—Milton candidly summarizes her eventful life in under 60 minutes while touching on subjects like gender, sexuality, mental health and even cockroaches. The result is a poignant and exceptional show—the kind that almost makes you feel bad for laughing at someone else’s tragedies.