Monday, 24 February 2014 10:59

Maria Bamford on Making Serious Topics Seriously Funny

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Maria Bamford Maria Bamford COURTESY PHOTO

Maria Bamford
Wealthy Theatre, Grand Rapids
March 8, 8 and 10 p.m.,
$25
grcmc.org, (616) 459-4788

When most people hear the terms "bipolar" or "OCD," they probably wouldn't think of them as necessarily funny issues. For comedian Maria Bamford, who has publicly acknowledged that she has bipolar disorder and anxiety issues, these topics are pure comedy gold. And she admits, they probably even helped her decide to pursue comedy as a career.

"Probably one of the reasons I did stand-up was because I didn't feel comfortable spending time with people face-to-face," Bamford said. "And so it was a way to connect with people where I didn't have to really be one-on-one."

While the subject matter didn't initially find its way into her set or public profile, she eventually decided to make the most of her circumstances and have a good laugh. She admits therapy was a big part of her going public with the material.

"It's hard to talk about it until you're out of it," she said.

Bamford partially attributes her willingness to take on serious subjects like these to her family's affinity for brightening themselves up with humor even in less-than-jovial times.

"Everybody's family has some dark history, but our family usually was able to have some laughs about it," Bamford said.

In fact, Bamford's family finds their way into her comedy routine in all sorts of ways. Her 2012 comedy special, aptly titled "The Special Special Special," features an audience made up entirely of two people: her mom and dad. She also gives her sister some credit for helping her with impersonations when she was younger.

"My sister and I would impersonate my parents a little bit," Bamford said. "I don't know when that really became a thing. I guess when I first started to do stand-up I just decided to do my family."

Since then she's branched out and used her skills in film and television, most notably on "Adventure Time" and season four of "Arrested Development." She's kept busy with her demanding tour schedule and acting gigs, and despite her increasingly impressive list of projects, she insists that she's been taking it easy lately.

"I've kind of slowed down in the past couple of years because of health stuff," she said. "I can't do as much as I used to. Or maybe I never was doing that much. Maybe that's it and I'm just now noticing how little I do."

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