Comedian Maria Bamford answered fans questions in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (or AMA) yesterday to promote her new standup special, the special special special! Here are all of her best responses:
On her favorite project she's worked on:
Whatever I'm doing in the present is my favorite- like Adventuretime- that show is so creative and lovely and the actors on it are so good- it's fun to watch people be good at their jobs.
On her recent guest spots on Louie and Arrested Development:
I'm so glad! I share about it so that I don't feel as embarrassed about it- It was scary to do "acting" because I don't have a ton of experience with it, but Louie was really kindly and it was so wonderful to see somebody really taking responsibility for his creative vision- he works cameras, he edits, he acts, does standup- it's a small crew, like just awesome- no intense makeup hair costumery- really simple. Mitch Hurwitz on AD seemed the same way- just really enjoying himself, making something and it was really inspiring. I know Louie through work, but not super well- just admire his work and I don't know if it was written for me, but I am grateful I got it!
On her worst teen job:
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.
On how she's doing (Bamford recently opened up about her issues on the Nerdist podcast):
I'm really good. Thank you. 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 (in my opinion-I know some people believe that you need the right Eagle Priestess) and to slow down. Just like cliches say, you don't know what you've got till you lose it. But 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, caffiene, family, fudge.
On sharing personal things onstage:
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 her creative process:
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 (trolls welcome to comment here)- 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.
When asked what her favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episode is:
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 the series. That's wrong and not good. I cannot make up for this. Discomfort.
On her favorite books:
I like a lot of books- but here's a few, Madness by Marya Hornbacher, Lit by Mary Karr, Kathy Griffin's Autobiography, the new biography of David Foster Wallace- which I can't remember the title of, and then, my mom gets this magazine, "Guideposts" which is chicken soup for the soul type Christian stories that are sort of ludicrously awesome.
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- which of course would be different if I did a lot of shows in the UK – where heckling is an art form. Just do it. You are your biggest fan.