Weakness is the Brand: Q&A with Comedian Maria Bamford
Feb 27, 2020 03:19PM
Interview by Elyse Wild
On March 13, Maria Bamford will perform at Wealthy Theatre as a part of LaughFest. Bamford is revered for her deeply personal and experimental comedy about mental illness. She starred in the surreal, semi-autobiographical Netflix comedy series Lady Dynamite, about a comedian who suffers a nervous breakdown, and is the star of three unconventional hour-long stand-up specials. Bamford was the first female comic to have two half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials and starred in the Comedy Central series The Comedians of Comedy and Netflix’s Comedians of Comedy: The Movie. She also created and starred in the cult hit web series The Maria Bamford Show, in which she plays all the characters.
Her latest comedy-special, Weakness Is the Brand, is her first special in front of a traditional, seated audience. We talked to Bamford about meeting people one-on-one via Twitter to rehearse, how her candid approach to mental illness impacts her relationships with her fans, and more.
Women's LifeStyle Magazine: Weakness is the Brand is your first special in front of a traditional audience. I love that because your comedy is so not traditional. What went into your decisions to do that?
Maria Bamford: I had planned to do intermittent interviews with loved ones who the jokes are about, but after I shot the interviews, it didn’t seem like it fit with the stand-up. I’ll try again with the next one maybe!
WLM: Because your comedy is the way it is, it feels like you can more easily hit on more taboo topics like mental illness, money, politics, etc. The voices you do and the way you take the audience on a ride with you, it seems to make those topics more palatable — like the topics you cover will never be as shocking as your mannerisms and voices.
MB: Yes, I agree. Voices and faces and movement definitely take the edge off, but I’m fairly mainstream compared to some of the wonderful new comics coming out.
WLM: Does this special reflect where you are in life? You don't touch on mental illness as much as you have in the past.
MB: Life is very good. Very good! If it takes away from the comedy, I’m not sure if I care!
WLM: Tell me about meeting people on Twitter for one-on-one rehearsals. How do those interactions help you develop your performance? What are you seeking in those interactions?
MB: Rehearsal and respite from solitary life on the road. It’s really wonderful to meet interesting people, and because they’re already fans, it’s a chance to remember all my jokes. I need them far more than they need a cup of coffee with a comedian.
WLM: You've been addressing mental illness for a long time in your comedy, long before it became part of the larger conversation. Tell me how that impacts your relationships with your fans.
MB: It’s a great support system for me. I know I would feel less afraid of being open if I was having struggles again (or I would hope so).
To purchase tickets to Bamford's March 13 performances, visit laughfestgr.org/event/maria-bamford/