10 Fun Facts about Maria Bamford
Updated: Sep 7
One of my all-time FAVORITE comedians, the lovely and hysterical Maria Bamford, has a new book out today called Sure, I'll Join Your Cult (and one of my two copies should be arriving today—woo-hoo!).
To celebrate the occasion, here are ten fun facts about the first comic I ever had the courage to talk to in person. Enjoy, and please get her book here if you like witty and heartfelt writing!
1) Maria has a degree in English and is a master of wordplay. In a recent You Made It Weird episode, Pete Holmes proclaimed Maria to be a "genius writer," and I couldn't agree more!
2) Maria was a trailblazer in mental health awareness in the entertainment industry, particularly in stand-up comedy (Weakness is the brand!). She has been very open and honest about her struggles with therapists and even psych ward visits after her 2010 mental breakdown (boy, can I relate to that last one...psych wards can be pretty terrifying at times).
She definitely has helped inspire many other comics, like Bo Burnham, to be more transparent about their struggles onstage. And it helps audience members who are suffering silently to feel less alone!
3) Maria created a Netflix series with Arrested Development's Mitch Hurwitz and South Park's Pam Brady about her mental breakdown called Lady Dynamite. It ran for two seasons, features a TON of my other favorite comics, and her love interest in the final season is played by the Lawnmower Man from True Detective (he's very sweet in this role though haha!).
4) Maria has made a number of revolutionary comedy specials, including one with an audience of just her parents (The Special Special Special) and one with a slowly growing audience (Old Baby).
Even Maria Bamford, today’s reigning queen of experimental stand-up, came up in a time when playing clubs was necessary, forcing a divide between her more mainstream club sets, which couch her personal darkness in a more palatable context, and the truly innovative work of her brutally honest Special Special Special, which she recorded in her house with only her parents in the audience.
She has also created a popular webseries called The Maria Bamford Show in which she plays ALL the characters, and she is currently working on Noooo-CD!, a Kickstarter-backed project about intrusive thoughts.
Is it just me, or did Bo rip off Maria with a knife here (perhaps an homage in Inside)?
Finally, Maria has hosted a WONDERFUL Topic series called What's Your Ailment? that I highly recommend if you're interested in the intersection between stand-up and mental illness (I'm actually working on an article about that exact subject, so this was right up my alley!).
Here she is with another favorite female comedian, Aparna Nancherla, discussing a reality show for people with depression.
5) Maria has played the violin since the age of three, and she used to even include the instrument in her comedy act. However, she devotes a full chapter in her book to how much she despises the Suzuki violin lessons she endured for years, so don't expect her to play a tune for you anytime soon!
6) Maria is married, and she and her husband Scott Marvel Cassidy wrote a graphic novel together about her favorite dog breed, pugs.
7) Maria is the only female member of the Comedians of Comedy, a group who toured together and performed in alternative clubs in the aughts. The other members are Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Zach Galifianakis.
8) Maria cannot stay in her lower voice register despite sounding more "normal." She calls this her "Diane voice," and she has a whole episode of Lady Dynamite (featuring Dean Cain as "Jack") about that vocal struggle.
9) Maria is big on supporting and promoting other women in comedy, including Aparna, Jackie Kashian, Ana Gastayer, Tig Notaro, Rachel Bloom, Sarah Silverman, and even the subject of this month—Kate Berlant!
DK: Who are some of the best comedians you are seeing out there right now?
MB: There are so many wonderful comedians. Kate Berlant — she’s out of LA, and she is a delight.
10) Maria has written a memoir with a title based on a line from her Comedy Central Presents episode in 2001 (which was the first thing I ever saw her in—I adored her immediately and still quote her dating coach line to this day about the pirate haha).
So do yourself a favor and dive into the wacky and wonderful world of Maria Bamford—you WON'T regret it!
She has Bo's seal of approval if that helps persuade you to give her a chance!