Maria Bamford
Maria Bamford

You probably recognize stand-up comic Maria Bamford, even though you might not know it. That’s because Bamford — who has been on the verge of becoming a “household name” for the past decade — is best known for her ability to manipulate her voice and facial features to embody multiple characters, ranging from her friends and dysfunctional family to more general types.

In addition to various supporting roles in movies and TV series, Bamford was featured in the documentary The Comedians of Comedy with Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifiniakis, and Brian Posehn; has taped two half-hour Comedy Central Specials; and has recorded three stand-up albums (the latest, Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome, was released in 2009 and was named one of the “Best Comedy Albums of the Decade” by The A.V. Club). She has also put her transformative abilities to use as a voiceover artist, providing voices for animated series such as Ugly Americans, Home Movies, CatDog, Hey Arnold!, and more; the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time, in which Bamford plays multiple roles, is nominated for an Emmy award this year for “Outstanding Short-format Animated Program.”

About six years ago, Bamford used her unique metamorphosis skills to create a one-woman show titled Plan B, in which she faced her fear of having a nervous breakdown by imagining what it would be like to leave show business and move back into her parents’ attic in Duluth, Minnesota. The live show was then developed into a 20-episode web series called The Maria Bamford Show for the now-defunct website Super Deluxe in 2006. Bamford played about a dozen characters in the series, including her parents, her sister,  past high school acquaintances, and other Duluth locals, to entertain viewers with a surreal yet hilarious glimpse into the mind of this self-deprecating comic.

This week, while Bamford is part of the lineup at the annual Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, The Maria Bamford Show is being paired with the Maysles brothers’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens for a screening at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC.

I spoke with Bamford about having her comedy paired with a documentary about the reclusive (and possibly mentally ill) Edith and “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, why customer service can be more difficult than comedy, how she determined that it was time to give up acting, and more. Read the Q&A below: Read the rest of this entry »