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Inside With: Maria BamfordBy: Andrew Singer

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"I haven't yet become the solid form that I'm meant to be" | Maria Bamford headlines the Hysterical Festival at Comix this Saturday

Comedian Maria Bamford has a unique, sophisticated style that's not easily deciphered. But after more than 20 years performing and touring the U.S., and starring in TV shows, cartoons and movies, plenty of people have found something to love about Maria. Whether it's her variety of personal and nuanced characters or the sharp divide between her own shrill voice and the professional voice she adopts when stepping outside herself, Maria draws you right into her world. Andrew Singer recently rang up The Bammer to discuss some of her favorite roles and this week's Hysterical Festival.

How long had you been performing before you found your particular style?
Around seven or eight years, but I'm still evolving. I haven't yet become the solid form that I'm meant to be. Maybe I'm still starting to pick up ideas or figuring out my style. Maybe I'm meant to be a professional jogger, but I haven't gotten to the running part.

What drew you to the Hysterical Festival?
Well, I'm a lady, and ladies are involved in organizing (although probably some men), and they said "You're a lady. Would you like to be a lady, as well as perform comedy," and I said "Yes," and that's how it happened. If that hadn't happened, I never would've done it.

Which other act(s) would you like to see while you're in the city?
I'm excited about Kristen Schaal.

The Bammer for | Photo: liezl was here
Photo by liezl estipona

What was one of the defining moments when you transformed from a beginner into a pro?
I think somebody paid me. I think it was in Minneapolis at some point. Maybe I got 20 dollars or something. It was pretty great. I am getting paid now. At some point, I started getting paid.

Do you get the chance to perform at lots of female comedy festivals?
There aren't that many of them, but I have been in a couple, including The New South Wales women's comedy festival (in Australia). Whichever one asks me to do it, I'll do it. I know there's one sponsored by Marshall's clothing stores, but I haven't done that one yet. I've been in a lot of women's shows in general, sometimes with one man performing as well; that seems confusing.

What was your favorite part of doing The Maria Bamford Show on SuperDeluxe?
It was that I could do it in my friend's house, it didn't take that long, and I could do what I wanted. Everything about it was easy and fun. I didn't even have to edit it. I just showed up and had a good time. It almost happened in spite of me, instead of happening because of me.

What do you hope to teach your audience?
That it's okay to be yourself and to have fun with it.

A caramel roll from Tobie's | Photo: Tobie's
Tobie's caramel roll

Do you see yourself forming another team like The Comedians of Comedy, or will you be primarily solo from here on out?
I like soccer. I'm not very good at basketball, but I'm open to other team membership.

Which character roles do you prefer to take on in your films and TV shows?
Well, I don't have very many, but I think my favorite is when I can just be myself or Amy Sleverson, who's my favorite character too. I don't want to play any more crazy ladies or women who are crazy or psycho. Those ones make me tired.

You often say things that others might want to say, but they would be too scared. How are you able to build up the confidence to speak so freely during your performances?
It takes actually a lot less confidence to say things to strangers. It takes a lot more courage to say things to people I actually know well. It takes lots less confidence to share very private things to a ton of people. I find sincerity to be embarrassing around friends.

Do you prefer cartoon work over live acting?
I haven't done much live acting, so I guess I would say cartoon work, because I've done more of that, and you don't have to dress up at all. But of course you can try to dress up and look like the character. If you want, you can show up to a voiceover in full costume, and that's okay.

Have you spent a lot of time in Minneapolis? What are your favorite hangout spots there?
The main time I spent there was to perform, so I go to Pizza Luce, which is this all night pizza place in downtown, and then I do a midnight show at the Southern Theater, which is near the University of Minnesota campus. The only other place is when I'm on my way to my parent's house, I pull over in Hickory and stop at Tobie's to get a giant caramel roll. You won't believe how big it is -- it's the size of your head! How can you not stop and get one?

• Maria Bamford will be headlining the Hysterical Festival at Comix on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 8:30PM. Showtimes and ticket information is available here.
A Chat with Maria Bamford [The Bastion, Nov. 6, 2007]

--Andrew Singer is a contributing editor for The Apiary. He performs regularly as "Soce the Elemental Wizard." He recently wrote about Shaffer the Darklord, comedy producer Susan Alexander, Shawn Hollenbach, Megan Ganz and Jen Dziura.

Reader Comments (2)

So jealous of you Andrew! I never knew MB did cartoon work. Great Q&A.
October 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbbi Crutchfield
The lady's got taste. I'm excited about Kristen Schaal too! Is the Hysterical Festival held in conjunction with the Vagina Fest?
October 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Reno

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