Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Taking the Edge off with Maria Bamford

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Humor | February 20th, 2019

Maria Bamford - photograph by Robyn Von Swank

The first exposure I had to Maria Bamford’s work was on Adult Swim’s comedy sketch show “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job”. She was informing the audience about how to properly remove cat hair from their clothes with a lint roller before collapsing into an emotional breakdown about her feelings of inadequacy. 

“It turns out I’m very skilled at fake emotional breakdowns,” Bamford said. She has a timid voice, is high-strung, yet bubbling with kindness.

In a career that has spanned over twenty years, Bamford has lent her voice to many animated projects like Nickelodeon’s “CatDog,” “American Dad!,” “Ugly Americans,” “Adventure Time,” and “BoJack Horseman.” There have been the live-action film and television credits like “Arrested Development” and “Louie,” and of course the loosely autobiographical 2016 Netflix comedy series “Lady Dynamite.” One would hardly think that someone with that extensive a resume would have been an incredibly shy teenager. “I don’t like social interactions,” Bamford said. But surprisingly enough, she said she likes to be in front of people, calling it “pleasant”. 

“I somehow keep doing it,” she said. “Stand-up was the perfect job for me.”

Bamford’s comedy is often chock full of the things she knows best: her relationship with her dysfunctional family (including being married, “That’s a hot topic!” she quipped), her struggles with mental illness, religion, and the occasional material about dogs. These comedic observations are accompanied by a surreal stream-of-consciousness and ample vocal impressions. “I think everybody can relate, how strange and wonderful a family can be,” she said. 

She referred to her family as a “never-ending vein of delightful comedic premises. “You just have to hit record with Mom, no editing,” she laughed.

She noted that this particular stand-up tour has less of a focus on jokes regarding her mental illness, as her doctor has her on some good medication, something she noted with some relief. One of the things Bamford has been praised for in her comedy is her openness about the struggles of an individual with mental illness. In regards to those struggles, she wistfully said, “Everything is super funny in retrospect.” It has been a give-and-take relationship: those struggles have provided fuel for her comedy and her comedy has served as a form of catharsis, a way to work through those issues that is simultaneously fun and distracting.

I opened up to her about my own struggles with depression and anxiety, my earlier editorial about stigmatization of mental health issues for High Plains Reader, and how I knew all too well how important a good distraction can be at times. 

“It’s crazy how hard it is to get the help sometimes,” she said. However, we both agreed, in keeping with the spirit of her comedy and her willingness to confront the subject in a way both humorous and cathartic, that the conversation has certainly opened up in the last 10-15 years. 

“It’s much more open now. Yay team.” She giggled.

Speaking of the value distractions and keeping oneself busy can have, Bamford related that she had a full docket of projects going on along with her current tour. The tour is serving as experience polishing a new comedy hour that she hopes to shoot later this year, but in addition to a potential upcoming album, she is still very involved in various animation and voice-over projects. Also, while not at liberty to discuss too many details, she stated how she is pitching a new reality show, based on her own personal love of transformative reality shows. “What if there could be an intervention on ‘Say Yes to the Dress?’” she said dreamily. Her goal with the project, she said, is to make a “loving, gentle reality show.” She is also working on an Audible book about how to write an hour of stand-up comedy. “I’m laughing just thinking about it,” she said, barely able to contain her mirth about that particular project. She doesn’t seem to find this amount of work daunting at all, saying, “You have to keep yourself occupied.”

This tour is not the first time that Bamford has performed at the Fargo Theatre. Having grown up in Duluth, Minnesota, she is actually quite familiar with the area (in fact she said she had just been in this neck of the woods shortly before the interview. “It was a lovely experience so I presume it will be fun again.”) Opening for her act is her close long-time friend Jackie Kashian, herself a very experienced comedian with experience on Conan, Comedy Central, and nationally syndicated radio show Bob and Tom. “I will also be selling merch after the show with my husband,” said Bamford, “which is bound to be a secondary hilarious post-show by itself.”

To wrap up our incredibly enjoyable interview, Bamford only felt the need to add that she is very happy to come, and that if current president Donald Trump happens to be in Fargo at the time not to come to the show.

IF YOU GO:

Maria Bamford with Jackie Kashian

Saturday, February 23, 7-11 p.m.

Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway, Fargo

Recently in:

FARGO – The city is requesting help from the public to produce one million sandbags in preparation for the 2019 Spring Flood. There remains a 10 percent chance waters will rise up to 40.3 feet, higher than the flood of 2009. Two…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.com“North Dakota (and Minnesota) nice” is an attitude, a stereotype, and a way of life that has permeated our region, as well as perceptions of the Midwest, since as long as people have been…

Friday, March 22, 6-8 p.m.Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave, FargoDigital photos from North Dakota’s backroads. Hornung has been exploring the roads less traveled for close to a decade. Carefully documenting and collecting…

“North Dakota Nice,” is a phrase that I see getting tossed around more and more these days. Many are sincere and others display yet another facet of our disposition that’s not nearly as desirable. Yes, we’re professin’…

The Battle Between Extreme Capitalism And Democratic SocialismAfter Vice-President Mike Pence representing racial and extreme capitalism ended his scathing rant about democratic socialism at the Conservative Political Action…

The eighth week of this year’s HPR Cocktail Showdown was another tripleheader for our panel of judges. On this particular week, we found ourselves focused on a trio of downtown dining and entertainment establishments to visit…

In rural Minnesota, outside of Park Rapids, Amy Thielen was attempting to light her wood-fired oven. It is in her brand-new kitchen that she hopes to teach cooking classes out of, which is a far cry from what it was when she and…

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has had its fair share of guest performances headlining its concerts over the years. They all have impressive resumes, their fair share of awards, and worldwide recognition. However, bringing…

FARGO – Most people know the Trail of Tears that followed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The U.S. government – under the direction of President Andrew Jackson – forcibly removed tens of thousands of Natives from their…

Hidden away in the tiny North Dakota town of Lefor I find Karen Valley, an author and an artist. She is without a doubt the artist’s artist. Her soul is art, talent and words. Meeting her is a true experience in finding a soul so…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

I’ve got a problem. I need to write a column that is going to be kind of critical of three people I like, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it without making them all angry at me. Their names are Sara, Doug and Marvin.…