Maria Bamford is like a hawk, and the foibles of American culture are the mice she feeds upon. She zeroes in on her prey, be it our obsession with success, our inability to savor the moment, or our ability to spin global warming into a positive. But she's not soaring above it all and simply observing; she's also helping to make the world a better place -- with her comedy, through charity work, and by touring the country with The Comedians of Comedy. The tour, which also includes Brian Posehn, Eugene Mirman and John Mulaney (but not group founder Patton Oswalt), stops at Mr. Small's on Tue., Oct. 30. Bamford, whose latest album is How to Win!, spoke with CP by phone from her home in Los Angeles.
On stage, you talk about anxiety and depression. Does our culture contribute to those problems?
There's so much pressure on the individual to succeed, but it's not about the communal effort, it's about, "What are you doing to be important?" The most popular question in Los Angeles is, "What are you working on? What's going on for you? What's on your plate these days?" and I answer, "I'm done. I finished early and I'm in a gravy boat filled with gravy with gravy dripping on top of me."
What should people do?
I was at a meditation session and the instructor passed out a raisin to everyone. For 10 minutes, we looked at the raisin and then put it in our mouths, and people were like, "Whoa, it's a raisin!" It blew their minds. In the U.S., when people eat, they're preparing a new shovel-full of food to put in their mouth even when there's still food in their mouth. "But I'm already enjoying a delicious steak." "TIME FOR DESSERT!" What I'm trying to say is that you can live on one raisin a day. One delicious little raisin.
There's certainly more to worry about these days, like global warming.
It seems like now people are more accepting of global warming, like, "Let's see what the Arctic's going to be like. Let's see if we can put condos up there." My sister seems to be in denial about it. She's like, "I can't think about it. I'm busy." You can't think about global warming because you're too busy?
Have you been doing your part to combat global warming?
I certainly haven't been taking the bus. I need to take the bus more. I need to at least once take the bus. I feel like I'm letting you down, and I'm letting everybody down.
By not taking the bus?
Well, in a number of ways. Blossom, my dog, is lying face-first in my Gaiam Goods catalog. Heard of Gaiam?
I have not.
It's about reducing your carbon footprint and slowing global warming. Blossom's face-first in it. And look at that, underneath that magazine is Newsweek: "How to Heal the World."
Well, you're making the world a better place with your comedy.
The one thing I'm very proud of is my "Afraid of the Dark" song on Superdeluxe.com. I've gotten e-mails saying, "It's nice to know that somebody else has dark thoughts." I also give 10 percent of my gross to charity, and I've been earning a lot of money through show business. So that's something to feel good about -- that the dirty comedy money's going toward the clean goodness of Doctors Without Borders. Although I'm sure they're kind of dirty too. Men in the trenches.
The Comedians of Comedy 8 p.m. Tue., Oct. 30. Mr. Small's, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $22 (all ages). 866-466-3401
- Dripping with gravy: Maria Bamford. Photo courtesy of Dan Dion.