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Comic Maria Bamford will cross personal boundaries at Utah show

Published June 22, 2011 6:44 pm

Interview • Stand-up comic talks about getting too personal, turning 40 and visiting Utah.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Stand-up comic Maria Bamford has mined her life in a dysfunctional family for decades, as well as relationships that never quite met her neurotic standards.

Ever since the young Maria launched her performing career in Duluth at the age of 11 — starring in the Chester Park Elementary production of "How the West Was REALLY Won!" — she has charmed audiences while earning the respect of fellow comedians in the male-dominated world of stand-up.

Before her June 29 performance at Wiseguys West Valley City, she answered email questions about the milestone of turning 40, how her early days in Duluth molded her, and named her favorite Utah comic.

Do you worry about revealing too much about yourself and your family? Or is everything fair game?

My family is pretty wonderful about my clownish caricatures of them, but I try to respect some boundaries. I'm not sure what they are, but I feel like I haven't crossed any because they are still talking to me. That is probably not the best way to distinguish what is fair game. I will ask over the holidays.

Do you believe the towns you lived in as you grew up affected who you are as a woman and performer?

I was born at the [Port Hueneme, California] Naval Base my Dad was stationed at, but then we moved to Florida and again to Minnesota by the time I was three, and so my conscious life has been Midwestern. I'm sure growing up in a cold climate (staying indoors) in a Scandinavian-type culture (never interrupt except with grunts of passive aggression) and moderate liberality (local group called "Men Against Violence Against Women") has affected my point of view. Living in Los Angeles has affected me (blonder hair, lost 10 pounds, comfortable with the concepts of past lives, levitation, animal totems) as long as I don't have to do it myself.

Did turning 40 in the last year faze you?

I got surprisingly depressed. I was very surprised that success in my career didn't translate to peace of mind. In by 40th year, my depression meds stopped working, I was re-diagnosed (after a three-day stay at the hospital) as Bipolar II, and have experienced some real joy since, [as I am in] an outpatient program with cognitive behavioral tools. So, that said, it fazed me completely.

What do you want audiences to be thinking as they leave after your set?

Awesome! Inspired to do something creative! Happy!

Why do you feel so comfortable doing voice work for cartoon series and impressions during your stand-up act?

I don't know. Hmph. Simple enjoyment. I'm not really a voice-over artist. There are really great performers who are specifically talented at voices, but I try my best (or worst) as is needed.

Do you have any memorable experiences of Utah?

I liked visiting the Salt Lake Art Center, which had a mini-golf course to play [at the 2010 art exhibit], and eating lunch at a Temple restaurant. My favorite thing about traveling to any new city is to meet the local comedians and I look forward to meeting the new crop and the familiar faces like the kindly, funny Spencer King.

dburger@sltrib.com

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Maria Bamford onstage at Wiseguys

When • Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Where • Wiseguys West Valley City, 2194 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, Utah

Tickets • $20 at wiseguyscomedy.com