The Fractions of Funny: Five Questions with Maria Bamford
Photo: Piper Ferguson
When you look around the list of comics who are at the top of their game nowadays, the name Maria Bamford always comes out of someone’s mouth. Bamford is one of the funniest and strongest comics going, she’s getting spots on a list shows, and she’s dropped a consistently funny string of albums. When FPH found out that she would be appearing on the Come And Take It Comedy Festival at Warehouse Live, we immediately asked for an interview. Here’s what transpired.
FPH: You grew up in Minnesota, and you have lots of jokes about depression and anxiety. Did growing up in a place with such harsh Winters attribute to those types of jokes, or is that just your style?
MB: I think it’s more genetics than weather, but people might laugh more easily when it’s cold and dark- Duluth is not unlike an overly- air conditioned comedy club for most of the year.
FPH: You’ve done stand-up for almost 25 years, you’ve dropped three well received albums, and you’ve gotten to have guest spots all over TV..will you always have the self-deprecating style, or will you one day switch over to a more positive style? Or is positive not as funny?
MB: I guess I always think I’m pretty positive! I think all right, that’s hilarious. I do feel like I’ve “made it” a thousand times over and I am certainly not an underdog. I’ve received much more than my fair share of - well- everything (including health care). I don’t have any great material about how I’m really pretty well set for retirement (even with early onset dementia on both sides of the family!). My sister did say about 10 years ago that, “Have you ever noticed that in every joke you tell, you’re the victim?” I guess I do see the negative- or noticing it- as being positive- that even if everything is terrible, it doesn’t matter. There are always fart sounds to enjoy.
FPH: You have been in scripted shows like “Louie” and “Arrested Development,” as well as more sketch based shows like “Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” Do you find yourself liking the scripted gigs or the more sketch based gigs more?
MB: I’d love to be improvising more, and I got to do that a little on “Tim and Eric” and “Arrested Development.” That was so fun. And I am also willing to do anything asked of me that is Union and Ethical (under my Code of Ethics)
FPH: With the acting, I think every comic comes to that crossroad where they can do more acting than stand-up. Do you see yourself starring in feature films and one day leaving the stand-up behind, or do you always see yourself still touring and dropping comedy albums?
MB: I don’t know, I can’t imagine not doing live shows; but it is nice to stay in town for a while and have a more “normal” schedule. I know I’m very lucky to just be working at all.
FPH: You’ve made three strong albums,one of which came out about a year and a half ago, and you were at Houston’s Improv last year. What do you have in store for Houston this time around and how much of your set will be new material?
MB: Ooof. I wish that it was all new. I am a slow sloth. I would say about 2/3 is “new” in that it will be on my next album and then 1/4 is old and then there is an 1/5 that is just dance without music. I ‘m not the best with fractions, but the show will have a running time of 1 and 3/4s.
While Bamford attempts to figure out the fraction of her show that’s new and the fraction that’s dance, you can catch her alongside many other comics at the Come And Take It Comedy Festival. The two day event that takes place on January 24th and 25th, will encompass the three rooms of Warehouse Live, and is great for the city of Houston and our growing comedy scene.