L.A. comedian Maria Bamford did a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) Monday to promote her new comedy special, “the special special special!” which features one of the most unique audiences for a comedy special: Her parents, and only her parents. Bamford answered about 40 questions, and here’s a look at some of her most interesting answers:
On how she manages to do comedy that’s personal:
Well, I live in California — where what I'm sharing really isn't that personal? Real estate agents have short memoirs of their shaman healings in my neighborhood — so it doesn't feel that brave. And my parents (and family) have always talked about EVERYTHING. I mean everything. So, they're probably wondering, "Why doesn't she open up more?" Mom, Dad, I'm just waiting 'til I feel like I know you better.
On working in entertainment:
I always thought entertainment was sort of magical, but I think it's just like a small town — and once you've lived there 15 years, people start thinking of you as a resident.
On the worst job she had as a teen:
I worked at Sbarro, the Italian Eatery at the mall. It was just hard because of the lying. "How long has that been sitting there?" "About 9 hours, but we can heat it up for you!" I was supposed to say that it just got out of the oven. (9 hours ago)
On dealing with mental illness (she has bipolar disorder):
I didn't believe that I'd feel good again. It's really weird with any illness where you can kind of lose hope, but it just takes a while to find the right meds combo ... and to slow down. ... It's scary because it takes a while and it's hard to feel that bad without knowing if it's going to get better. Anyhoogasians, I'm real good and making efforts to continue the wellness with combo of drug, therapy, group, dog, caffeine, family, fudge.
On how she overcomes negativity:
The best cure for creative self-consciousness, creative jealousy, etc. from what I've read or what's helped me — is creativity. So, I write 3 pages of nonsense a day, I'll commit to a pal that I'm going to write 10 premises and then call them back, I'll PAY somebody to just watch me practice ... just so I can go through a whole bunch of stuff. Just do whatever it is and that seems to shut everything up. But I have a hard time too sometimes — I think everybody does.
On having supportive fans:
I get worried now that I get sort of coddled in this insulated bubble of love — which I'm on the fence whether it's good or not — like I get worried I don't work as hard to hone material because people are already on board? But at the same time, life is short and do I want to go and do shows where my material might not be welcome/appropriate for the crowd?
On the weirdest thing a stranger has said to her:
After a few drinks — where a wife will say, "You're on my husband's celebrity list." Meaning who you'd have sex with if you had an opportunity, I guess. That is odd. Especially since, having sex with a stranger — I'd be all trembly and cold and probably, not guaranteed, most mostly likely, have some tears involved because he'd be drunk and his wife would be there.
Her advice for young comedians:
Just do it. Do what you think is funny. Do it again and again. Fail, try, try, fail, enjoy, triumph, again. That's all there is. We're all in the same boat — i'm just as scared as you are. I've always been sort of shy and passive aggressive (which I hope is changing) and stand-up has been comfortable for me. It's a way to say what I want without being challenged.
On how to deal with hecklers:
The person I'd like to most be like with a heckler is like Paul F. Tompkins — he is a DELIGHT to watch with hecklers — easy going, fun, elegant and amused. That is what I wish to be, to really listen to the emotions behind the words of what someone is saying.
On her secret shame:
This is going to be really sad and disrespectful, but though I played a Bajoran for Paramount Parks in 1995-1996, I never actually watched [Star Trek: The Next Generation]. That's wrong and not good. I cannot make up for this. Discomfort.
If you want to learn more about Maria Bamford, you can also check out the recent interview she did with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast where she talks about comedy, how she’s dealt with her bipolar disorder, her new special and more.
And we promise we didn’t just write this because Maria listed KPCC as one of her favorite radio stations in her AMA. (Though that probably helped.)