Watch Maria Bamford’s Great New Stand-Up Special

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 29 2012 2:06 PM

Watch Maria Bamford’s New Special

Back in May, we talked with Maria Bamford about stand-up comedy and mental illness. Then in July she told us what it was like to go on Louie and tell that show’s titular hero that he was “bad at sex.”

Now Bamford is back, with her first comedy special since 2009. And she has taken the D.I.Y. approach pioneered by Louis C.K. a couple steps farther—by filming it in her house, with her mother and father serving as the audience. This would be a bold move for any comic, but is particularly so for Bamford, who not only pokes fun at her relationship with her parents in her act, but also frankly talks about being diagnosed as bipolar, having suicidal thoughts, and spending time in a psychiatric hospital.

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Of course, she approaches these topics from her unique (and brilliant) comic perspective—turning, for instance, the common misunderstanding of mental illness as a simple matter of will power into a hilarious riff. It helps that her parents are a wonderfully sympathetic audience. In a little interview that runs with the end credits, her mom says she “began to feel co-dependently sad for Paula Deen” as her daughter did her opening bit about how the cooking celebrity’s recipes have become a cry for help.

Bamford also does great bits about celebrity worship (“And the worst-dressed shall be the best-dressed and the best-dressed shall be the worst-dressed!”), the misleading way churches advertise these days (“Stop lurking behind your Jimi Hendrix font!”), and online dating, among other subjects—all while taking breaks to provide everyone cookies, let them use the bathroom, and to give Bert, her pet pug, his eye medication. The whole thing ends with a great game of “Joy Whack-a-Mole.”

The special is $5 and is on sale at Chill.com.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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