Comedian-actor Maria Bamford brings comic force to Helium

Maria Bamford
Robyn Von Swank

Maria Bamford is a unique character on the comic landscape, whether sitting down, performing stand-up or hiding behind cartoon characters.

Beloved for the reality of her autobiographical, live action series, ‘Lady Dynamite’, her appearances throughout ‘Arrested Development’, and her willingness to honestly essay the travails of her own mental health, Bamford’s impressive resume also includes voiceover animation work on Netflix’s ‘BoJack Horseman’, Cartoon Network’s ‘Adventure Time’, PBS’s ‘Word Girl’, Nickelodeon’s ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Legend of Korra’.

This week at Helium Comedy Club, Bamford makes a not-to-be-missed appearance in a several day residency, July 21 – 23. Metro sat down with the comic force ahead of her Philly stint.

Robyn Von Swank

You’ll always be admired for putting the topic of mental health above all else. Do you ever have second thoughts about having opened that door, or how others have chosen to walk through that same door and their sincerity?

I don’t know- I try to keep my eyes on my own paper and I’m genuinely grateful that any material about mental health might at this point seem passe or hack. That means there’s been progress. I have an urge to tell everybody everything — otherwise known as showboating. It’s always felt good to me to overshare.

The last time audiences saw your stand-up, it was ‘Weakness Is the Brand’, a Netflix special where you praised the pragmatism of the mediocre beyond the drive for excellence. Not to imagine that making jokes creates resolution, but do you understand and self-realize your own greatness?

Everyone is great. The fact that anyone does anything, especially if they’re doing it poorly—takes courage. It might be the easiest thing in the world to be preternaturally talented with a gift and charisma. I am inspired by those who continue to participate without recognition and yes, I am pandering to myself.

When was the last time someone made you laugh?

My husband makes me laugh. Nothing is funnier than the people you know, who know you. In my opinion.

What jokes will in no way find their way into what you’ll do coming up?

The topics I will not address, but here is my public opinion on, anyway is: Health care and contraception and abortion are human rights (am I right, ladies?); Taking guns away from everybody (especially me); Booking anyone else but me. I’ve had my 2 cents! Here’s a few fantastic headliner suggestions: Joyelle Johnson, Jackie Fabulous, Danielle Perez, River Butcher, Carmen Morales, Amy Miller, Robin Tran, Jackie Kashian and hundreds more.

There is no one who doesn’t know you in 2022—are you at peace with constant recognition? 

I am not famous enough to not sell out rooms everywhere but Portland and Brooklyn, so I feel pretty safe from crowds of well-wishers, but fans of my work are usually pretty shy… so if someone did know me, they’d probably look away.

Maria Bamford will perform at Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom Street, July 21-23. For information and tickets, visit philadelphia.heliumcomedy.com

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