Maria Bamford on coming home, ‘Lady Dynamite,’ & portrayals of mental illness

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Minnesota-native Maria Bamford will return home for two shows at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis on Saturday, Aug. 20 // Photo courtesy of Maria Bamford

When you’ve had a career as long and successful as Maria Bamford, it can be difficult to choose a “best” year. That said, 2016 has likely been Maria Bamford’s best year in comedy.

Her highly anticipated Netflix show, “Lady Dynamite,” premiered back in July and has already been picked up for a second season. The semi-autobiographical comedy gave fans a look into her history, including experiences with TV, comedy, and mental health. In the meantime, Bamford is keeping herself busy on the road, continuing to tour and build on her career that has spanned more than 25 years.

This week, the Minnesota-native will come back home for two shows at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. Before she brings her irreverent sense of humor and seemingly unlimited arsenal of voices and impersonations to the stage, we chatted with the comedian about the current state of her life, career and summer vacation.

Growler Magazine: With the Minneapolis shows being almost sold out, do you feel more pressure performing locally, or do you feel more at ease since fans are clearly excited to see you based on reputation alone?

Maria Bamford: Shows are so much better with the internet! Everyone knows what they are coming to see and there is less chance of raging disappointment. I feel a little anxious when I perform in Duluth. I fear being rejected there more than other places, but almost everywhere I go right now is a wonderful experience.

GM: With all of your TV work lately, is it tough to find time to work on new material?

MB: I try to keep it to one activity per day. I’ve never been a fast, prolific writer—I have five albums in 25 years. Slow and steady goes the tortoise. I’m focusing more on spending time with family and friends rather than creativity and work.

GM: Speaking of TV work, there was a ton of anticipation around “Lady Dynamite” and the reception has been very positive. What is it that makes this show different/unique/special to you, compared to other shows you’ve done?

MB: It was extremely exciting to me—to be the “star” and to work with people who are so hardworking and talented and experienced. It was truly a group effort and I’m still amazed that it all came together.

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Maria Bamford // Photo courtesy of Maria Bamford

GM: In regards to the mental health aspects of the show, how important was it to you to show people the reality of mental illness and treatment while balancing the entertainment value (basically, not making it crazy-depressing)?

MB: I was worried when they put the games and vision boards into the scenes—because the facilities I was in did not have planned activities and were in no way therapeutic beyond being a holding tank to get stabilized on meds and not hurt yourself or anyone else. There was concern that that might be—as you say—crazy-depressing, but I think there was some good representation of the emptiness, nothingness of being inside of a psych ward. We couldn’t have dogs visit, there weren’t any relationships to be had amongst patients because everyone is doing so poorly, and it is so hilariously depressing inside most hospitals—it’s really hard to capture on screen. A long line of people in gowns waiting at a thick glass nursing station for a single packet of graham crackers at 8pm, broken chairs, puzzles missing pieces, a big screen TV with poor reception playing Ultimate Fighting [Championship], and no one can turn down the volume because the remote has been lost: it’s bad.

GM: Aside from touring and filming, what else are you doing with the rest of your summer?

MB: Going up to Duluth! Napping! Partying! Chitchatting!


If You Go

Maria Bamford
The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
Saturday, August 20
7 p.m. (SOLD OUT) & 9:30 p.m.
Click here for tickets and more info

 

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