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October 7, 2015

In Defense Of: Maria Bamford

by Adam Finley, posted Feb 9th 2006 6:07PM
maria bamfordThere's a tendency in our culture, and it's certainly prevalent in the blogosphere, to snark at anything that doesn't immediately turn us on. I'm guilty of this myself, but I cut myself some slack because I'm writing about the entertainment industry, which is, to me anyway, of little consequence within the Grand Scheme.

The thing is, it's not good to be "led by your snark" (my phrase) all the time. Sometimes what seems easy to dismiss on the surface is actually worth delving into a bit deeper. Our habit is to swallow what we're given without really savoring it and then immediately purge whatever opinion we might have formed.

This leads me to Maria Bamford, a comedian who's been on the stand-up circuit for many years and who also makes a living doing voiceovers for cartoons. She was seen most recently on the Comedians of Comedy on Comedy Central, a reality series which followed her and fellow comics Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Zach Galifianakis on an East coast tour. You've also heard her voice(s) on kid's fare like CatDog and Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island! but she's also lent her talent to Adult Swim shows like Home Movies and Tom Goes to the Mayor.

Maria's ability to imitate different voices is an important aspect of her career, but she doesn't do impressions of specific people, she does impressions of TYPES of people, and they're all people we've met ourselves. Some dismiss her as having only one act, of relying too heavily on her ability to do different vocal ranges. What becomes clear when you watch her act, though, is that even though she embodies a number of different people, it's not really about the voices. It's about being adrift in a world where nobody really gets you, and where the little eccentricities that make you a unique person are met with condescending remarks or a patronizing smirk. Her act is actually much more subtle than it appears, but it's not something you can pick up on by watching a thirty-second clip. There are plenty of comedians who do silly voices, and it's unfortunate that she often gets categorized, and dismissed, along with them.

It doesn't help, either, that Maria is cute, blond, and so freaking adorable you want to put her in a glass case and stick her on a shelf while she appreciates in value. Advances have been made, but we're still a largely patriarchal society, and cute blondes, no matter how smart, clever, and hysterical, don't always get the fair shake they deserve.

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I don't get it either - was anyone attacking her? I had never heard of her up until now. Perhaps that's the point.

February 11 2006 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Winter

I don't get it: who hates her? Who could possibly see her act and think "dumb blonde, hacky impressionist"? You're "defending" someone who doesn't need to be defended. She's perfectly well represented by the quality of her work.

February 10 2006 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Simmons

She's extremely funny!

February 10 2006 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She's actually pretty good.

February 09 2006 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Listen to this interview I did with Maria. At the end of it you'll love her and hate me.

February 09 2006 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love her, she's hysterical.

February 09 2006 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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