Interview: Maria Bamford, Stand-Up Comic

Filed Under Interview, Stand-Up Comedy

The following interview with Maria was conducted over email.

A female comedian friend of mine was a little bothered that you weren’t part of Vanity Fair’s Funny Women issue. I was bummed that you weren’t on there too. Did you feel like it was an oversight?

Oh no! Not at all. I’m not at all in that league- there were tons of lots more relevant ladies left out because they probably didn’t have the room in the picture.

That Vanity Fair issue was focused more on comedy on TV or movies. Like a lot of mainstream media, they kind of ignored live comedy. Is being a stand-up like stealth show business?

Stand-up is listed with Karaoke in most newspapers- but, once people can get your emails and myspaces it gets better as far as letting people know about your showbiz. I love the internet.

I’ve heard you mention the book The Artist Way helped you pursue stand- up as a career. Self-help books are very sincere and comedy is very cynical by nature. Was getting through the book a little hard as your comic mind grew – that you found more in the book to make fun of the more it helped you?

I LOVE SELF HELP. Help me to help me help me help ME help ME. I have a hard time being sincere on stage, but off stage- it’s all solid eye contact, low voice and a deep yearning to understand. I love to make fun of that book but I also LOVE THAT BOOK.

Your ability with voices is amazing. There’s an incredible ear there. With people always doubting your regular speaking voice, has there ever been a temptation just to pick one of your voices and talk that way? Even as a goof?

No. I don’t feel good “tricking” people. I was crank called when I was in junior high and maybe it comes from that- a girl singing creepier lyrics to the “How do you solve a problem like Maria” song. It’s funny to watch, but I can’t do it.

Do you still hold shows at your house? I know a few rising stand-ups are doing them at their houses – it seems like a great way to indulge in the communal aspects of laughter. What do you find special about those shows?

I did shows a few times and it was hard because my neighbors heckle and it’s difficult to bounce them.

It’s obvious you’re nuts about your dog Blossom – is it difficult on the road to be away from her? (I know flying with a pug is kind of difficult due to the breathing problems of the breed’s anatomy)

Blossom (and her new Brother Bert) live in LA now and don’t travel because Bert has a problem with flatulence and my trips aren’t long enough to bring Blossom anymore. Some people in Austin, TX were mad that I didn’t bring her, but they decided to still stay for the show- sans Bloss.

The last episode of your show on Super Deluxe is kind of rarity in web video in that it’s both funny and touching. (And technically brilliant too - with the shaky camera moves/transitions to different Marias!) Why are you trying to make all those clips of urine-drinking monkeys look so bad?

Urine-drinking monkeys? What’s the link? Me like watch monkey drink! I love all of youtube’s offerings.

What’s the sensation you feel now upon completing the show? Are you letting yourself enjoy that and not necessarily worrying about the next thing?

Just going along- that’s the nice thing about standup - you can always do it, work on bits and enjoy that- in between temporary projects- it is a lovely profession.

You talk about depression on stage, but you make it clear in interviews that you have a pretty happy life. Are you trying to avoid the stereotype of the sad clown/the troubled comic?

I don’t know. I have problems with depression- lots of it in my family- and then I know comics who don’t - I still have problems and probably will continue to have them in the future (that’s what the books say) but I’m also pretty happy- especially when my meds are ‘in the zone’. Life is pretty good- when it isn’t really bad.

If you rush, you might be able to catch a tickets to see Maria’s performance tonight at Comix. Or you might check her out at the UCB for Olde English’s Very Fresh Show at midnight.

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Comments

Posted by Homero on 04/15  at  03:31 PM

Such a great final episode, can’t wait to see her live sometime soon.

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