In this standup special "Weakness Is the Brand,"Maria Bamford quirky but hilarious style is fully on display as she talks about her parents, religion, her marriage and a tiny bit about mental health
Maria Bamford: Weakness Is the Brand (2020)

[microphone droans]

[music playing]

[crowd cheering, applauding]

Thank you for coming out. [laughs] Great time. Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. And thank you, you the viewer, who’s probably doing something else right now. You get your laundry done. Whatever you need to do. You guys! Thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming out. Uh, I understand, I know we’re here in Los Angeles. Also, at home, I know we’re all artists. We all have a gift. If, at any point during my program, you feel disgusted. You think to yourself, “Why isn’t comedy better than I remembered?” [high voice] “Why isn’t that particular premise less ill-conceived?”

[higher voice] “Why– why isn’t this experience exactly what I had wanted?”

[normal voice] Please let that rage trampoline you into working on your own stuff.

[cheers, applause]

Harness the power of an enormous letdown. Uh… and I ask you, why does everything have to be so good? There’s a lot of talking in society about, “That’s amazing.”

[low voice] “That’s genius.”

[strong voice] “He’s a pig of productivity.”

[soft voice] “She’s a kaleidoscope of can-do.”

[normal voice] Yes, there are certain people in society who have a tremendous amount of talent. You combine that with an unbelievable work ethic, it is greatness. Is that really that interesting? Haven’t we seen it before? Einstein, Beyoncé, the Muppets, Japan. I adore a two-star experience. There is a deli down the street from our house. I believe it is called the Super Crap Shitty-Ass Liquor Store. It is dusty, dark– Diet Coke, hot. Milk, sour. You open up a Milky Way, it blooms. They are invariably unfriendly, and they’re only sometimes open. And it is that kind of integrity of mediocrity over time that deserves celebration. The energy that it takes to not improve… And, as a small business owner, I relate. Many times a day on my Yelp page, I get customer comments. [low voice] “Stop, witch!”

[valley girl voice] “Why don’t you kill yourself?”

[normal voice] Ooh, great minds think alike. Thumbs up. Follow and then mute. And yet– and yet, despite that ongoing negative commentary, I persist at half steam… generating up to eleven new minutes of material per decade. And, uh, things aren’t so good in general. Uh, I don’t know if you’ve… noticed. We cannot, of course, physically harm the President of the United States. But it is not illegal to lead him into a bramble, some uneven pavement, rocky terrain. Let your deteriorating roads, bridges, and public schools work for us. Oh, well… there’s– “Hey, get in here.” Uh, many times, in comedians’ acts, you’ll hear legitimate domestic and foreign policy. I heard a comic, 1999, Mr. Isaac Witty suggests at a Go Bananas in Cincinnati, Ohio,

[imitates male voice] “You know, why don’t we send a high school marching band into Afghanistan?”

[normal voice] Confusing, inexpensive, quite possible hilarious. I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with our government. I thought, “Why not file a restraining order against the President of the United States?” [cheers] I did it! I printed out all the evidence, went down to the courthouse, saw a judge. Within a half hour, he denied me. Ultimately, a useless gesture that didn’t further the conversation in any way, and wasted the time of caring professionals. But I would recommend that if you’re gonna do anything political, to live-tweet it. Because it got me in contact with so many people I didn’t think I had anything in common with. Turns out I have a few opinions in common with the far right.

[low voice] “You’re a fucking idiot.”

[normal voice] I know! I went to a third-tier state school.

[high voice] “You crazy cunt.”

[normal voice] Now, that’s just accurate.

[low voice] “You’re just an unknown comedian doing this for attention.”

[normal voice] Of course. Oh, that’s– oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes, I love attention. Ooh, ooh. Ever since I was three years old, my parents, they forced me to play a musical instrument, the violin, at the age of the three. Could not wait to get that thing out of the way ’cause it was cockblocking the sale. Uh, I’m not politically articulate, but we do have a 20-year-old pug named Betty. And she’s blind and deaf, so she can no longer find the doggy door, so if we leave her for any amount of time, when we come home, she will be wedged in between the stove and a kitchen cabinet, covered in her own fecal matter, crying.

[howls mournfully] That’s it, that’s where I’m at. Hopeless… looking for leadership… and I wouldn’t turn down a biscuit. And I don’t know why I’m being so critical. Uh, I’m not the greatest. I have a bit of a tremor that’s distracting in a performer.

[high voice] “Why don’t you take a medication to offset the hundreds of medications you’re already on so that I feel more comfortable?”

[normal voice] To which I’d like to say, “Weakness is the brand.” Aw, yeah. I don’t want to quash this cash cow. Uh, I may be mental, but I’m also a millionaire. I, uh– I have done very well with mental health shtick, and I was– but I’ve been feeling so good the past several years, um, I don’t have any new material about it. And I thought, “Uh-oh, maybe I should worry about that.” Uh… but then I remembered that I’m on anti-psychotics, and it is no longer possible for me to worry. I do have this joke, though. I was at the funeral for a comedian who died of suicide. Wait for it! And, uh– awful. I’ve had many friends and family, sadly, die of suicide, and one thing that always bothers me, though, is that, when there’s an obituary for someone who’s died of it, there’s always the number for the suicide hotline. And I know that’s helpful. I know it is. I know it saves lives. It’s helped me. I’ve called it myself. But as a person who’s trying to kill themselves, it always feels a little condescending. Like, “I know what the fucking number is. I’m depressed, I’m not a moron.” Just seems like, you know, having an obituary for someone who died of drowning and then there’s an ad for a raft. You know? “Yeah, that would’ve been great.” So, after the funeral, I overheard a few people talking.

[low voice] “It’s just the single most selfish thing he could’ve done.”

[high voice] “I know, he has two kids, and his wife, she’s gorgeous.”

[normal voice] “Uh, hey, you know what I think the single most selfish thing you could do. I think blaming someone for their own death at their funeral? That is truly the single most selfish– hold on, hold on, hold on. No, no, no, no. Writing down the premise for this joke. Yeah, that is truly the single most selfish thing you could do. Yeah, two– two kids? And don’t forget to mention how pretty his wife is.” Let us never forget how attractive all of us are. Especially now. I’m a very good-looking beast. Uh… uh… I have, uh, silky dark fur that covers my body. You can see it here. This is false. That doesn’t mean I don’t put in the effort to seduce my husband. We both work from home, but at least three times a day– I’m busy, so I keep on my top, so my shoes and socksies. But I will pull down my pants and my underwear all the way to the bottom and make my way over. Say, “Hey. I’m just sittin’ over here. I love you, you love me. What that means for us both is, I’m down for whatevs. Uh, haha, don’t tickle me! Don’t you come over here right now and tickle me.” [laughs] We have sex in one way very well. The second way involves a purple buzzer. It’s not always charged. Let’s not play the blame game. Uh, I was trying to write some fantasies, and in order to live-action role play something, you really need to know so much about a genre. And the only thing I know a little bit about from a very limited point of view is intractable social issues. So our first sexy scene was gentrification. [high voice] “My name is Jen. I just moved here. It’s so cheap, and I can use my high school Spanish.”

[low voice] “My name is Art. I’m an artist. I’ve lived here for 30 years, and it’s hipsters like you who have committed cultural genocide.”

[high voice] “Aren’t you the first sign of gentrification, that you transform industrial abandoned spaces into galleries, thus making it more attractive to developers?”


[high-voiced huff]

[low voice] “And you ash your hand-rolled cigarette…”

[high voice] “…into my succulent! Oh, what, are you moving out? Has this neighborhood become too cool for you?”

[low voice ] “No, I’ve been evicted. I can no longer afford to live in the city that I love.”

[high voice] “Oh, my God, it’s happening to someone I know. Maybe you should move in with me because that’s the answer to affordable housing, not NIMBY, Not In My Back Yard, but YIMBY, Yes, In My Back Yard. Ooh. If you lived here, you’d be home by now.”


[normal voice] My husband, Scott, he doesn’t like to act, so I do most of it. Second sexy scene. Living wage.

[low midwest voice] “I’m the owner of a Midwest McDonald’s franchise. Boy, you’re lucky I hired a loser like you.” [high midwest voice] “Well, you’re lucky you got me, ’cause, see, I just got out of treatment for opioid addiction and I’m gonna work 80 hours a week to support myself and my four kids.” [low midwest voice] “Maybe you shoulda thought about having kids before becoming an addict.” [high midwest voice] “Well, maybe I would have, had I had a– access to preventative healthcare and family planning!” [low grumble] [high grumble] [high midwest voice] “I’m putting out a tip jar.” [low midwest voice] “No handouts. Listen, you’ve been doing such a nice job for me the past couple years, just puttin’ all that meat in buns. I thought I’d like to give you an eleven-cent raise.” [high midwest accent] “Oh, then we can get an oil change on the house.” [low midwest accent] “But then I see you pouring a four-and-a-half-foot vanilla cone. You’re stealing from me. You’re fired.” [high midwest accent] “That was gonna be my supper.” [low midwest accent] “You mean to tell me you work in a restaurant but you’re food insecure?” [high midwest accent] “No shit, Shake Shack!” [low midwest accent] “I need to restructure my business, creating a profit-sharing entity, thus destroying all hierarchy.”

[high midwest accent] “So we could date. Then maybe I could teach you a mutually satisfying application of open book accounting.” [trills]

[normal voice] Scott’s been working– he’s been writing.

[imitating Scott] “Okay, uh, all right. We’re in a massage parlor. Oh, right. Human trafficking. Uh, I think it’s legit. I know it’s in a strip mall, but there’s water in the fountains, orchids are real. You seem happy. You lead me into a room, and you just start working on my back. You can go hard. Use your elbows.”

[normal voice] “Okay.”

[imitating Scott] “Aw, babe, that’s good.”

[normal voice] “Okay.”

[imitating Scott] “And then, I– yeah, I have some curiosity about your situation.”

[normal voice] “That’s awesome.”

[imitating Scott] “Yeah, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is modern day slavery.’ And then… Twenty-five bucks for a massage? That’s insane. Oh, God, babe, that’s awesome.”

[normal voice] “And– and then what happens?”

[imitating Scott] “Wouldn’t you keep going for at least a half hour? Okay, yeah, no, you’re right. Okay, uh, I go to your country’s embassy, and we find out you’re a princess?”

[normal voice] Now that’s what I call a happy ending. All right.


Oh, uh… my husband and I, he’s– his longest relationship was three years. My longest was one year. We just made it six whole years!

[cheers, applause]

Thank you so much. Thank you, we need your support. And we need it now. We don’t know what we’re doing. My parents have been married over 50 years. They gave us this way of fighting. Uh, it’s called sharing and caring. [imitating mother] You do it once a week. You share something you’re grateful for, a concern, ugh, and then something you’re grateful for. It’s a shit sandwich. And so we’ll do it for ya. Joel, go ahead. [imitating father] Ahem, I’m grateful for all that you did for me this morning, and it’s private. [imitating mother] And I’m grateful I’m still able to do that. And now, Joel, do you have any concerns? [imitating father] Oh, yes, I do have a concern, Marilyn. You’ve been interrupting me for the past 50 years. [imitating mother] Okay, well, I thought I was doing so– [imitating father] I wasn’t finished speaking. [imitating mother] All right, I didn’t know we were gonna say something real. Okay, well, I felt hurt when you called me a blueberry and I was wearing my blue coat. It felt like a slur. [imitating father] Ahem, your mother knows I find spheres very sensual. Ahem. [snorts] Uh, and close with the gratitude. Marilyn, I’m grateful that you’re gonna let me have the rest of your sweet potato fries. [imitating mother] Yes, yes, go ahead. And I– I am grateful that your father is here with us tonight and is not spending his entire life with his buddy, Lyle. [groans] They get together and they eat Fig Newtons, and then your father gets night terrors. Now you and Scott give it a go. You and Scott go. [normal voice] Okay, uh, Scott. Scott. I’m grateful that you can sing the lyrics “Turkey leg, chicken leg” to any available melody. For example, “Frère Jacques.”

♪ Turkey leg, a turkey leg ♪ A chicken leg, chicken leg ♪ Turkey, turkey, chicken leg, chicken, turkey, turk, turk ♪
♪ Turk, turk leg, chick, chick turk ♪
♪ Leg and turk turk, leg and turk turk ♪
♪ Leg and chick, leg and chick ♪
♪ Leg-a, leg-a turk, turk, leg-a chicken turk, turk ♪
♪ Turk, turk, chick, turk, turk– ♪

[imitating Scott] M-Maria, Maria. I’m grateful that you join me in those songs. It’s a real clock-eater. Uh… you are actually the first person I’ve ever had to beg to stop.

[normal voice] Uh, Scott, I actually did have a concern. Uh, I felt hurt when you were laughing about my cooking.

[imitating Scott] Okay. I thought we were laughing together. I’m sorry. Uh, can I tell them the story, though? Okay, Maria decides to make pancakes. She pours batter into a pot nine inches deep, like a cake. That burns. Does another one, burns again. By the time I get home, she’s on her third pot. She’s added frozen vegetables. And the house is filled with smoke ’cause she’s removed every single fire detector.

[normal voice] Yeah, they’re too loud. I already know what’s going on. I’m making some fuckin’ veggie pie cakes. Hot, fat, tall.

[imitating mother] Now, Scott, do you have any concerns?

[imitating Scott] Uh, yeah. [squeals] Maria, I love you. [squeals] I love that you put a bench on the front lawn. But now, uh, there is a man living there. Which is fine, we live in Los Angeles, but now when you leave your keys in the front door overnight, over and over and over again, I feel terrified.

[normal voice] It’s just, they– that’s where they fit. Maybe I could ask the guy on the bench to remind–

[imitates mother] Honey, no, okay. Shut it down. Shut it down. So, uh, say something you’re grateful for, Scott. Something you’re grateful for.

[imitating Scott] Uh, Maria, I’m grateful you’re so beautiful. [snorting]

[normal voice] Scott. Scott. I’m grateful that you let me use our sweet and fragile personal life as fodder for my act. Very good man. Very kind man. Uh, my husband’s an artist, so we’re working on a project together. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but he pulls up his swim trunks all the way up to here and then he tiptoes around the public pool, and then I chase him yelling, “Mr. Cassidy. Mr. Cassidy. Mr. Cassidy! Gonna try to pitch it to Nat Geo. Audible? Okay, all right. Uh, so, we talk about– we talk about money. That’s the other thing we talk about in our family, ’cause we both have to ask to get paid in our jobs. And, um, has anyone here ever asked for a raise?

[scattered whoops]

Yes? No? No? Oh, how’d it go? How’d your raise go? I got let go. You got let go! Oh. But good for you. Asked. You asked. So… I’m so sorry. Are you working at a better place now? -Yes. -Oh, okay. [whines] Uh, I never– I’ve never– I never thought to ask for a raise. I worked in temp jobs and minimum wage for 15 years. I worked at a laundry factory once, making wire hangers into one long wire. I wasn’t told what the mission statement was, and yet I still felt inspired. Uh, yeah, so I also worked for a temp agency.

[imitating older woman] Maria, can you meet them at an unmarked warehouse in downtown Los Angeles?

[normal voice] When? [imitating older woman] Are you okay with working with sharp objects?

[normal voice] Yes.

[imitating older woman] You’re gonna be making airport salads.

[normal voice] You buried the lede! But I never thought to ask for more money, but now I get direct offers to myself. I just got an email that said, “Hey, can you come to Alabama for 300 bucks?” And I wrote them back and I said, “Hey, why don’t I just send you two grand, ’cause that’s what’s gonna happen.” Oh, I’m so sorry. I love you so much. Uh, now, uh, I, uh– but recently– also, a few– oh, gosh. A little while ago, I got– yesterday? Is that good for comedy? Is “yesterday” good for comedy? I’m– I’m a liar. The important thing about stand up comedy is to call whatever you’re doing, “stand-up comedy.” All right, so, I got an offer to do a commencement speech at the University of Minnesota, from wherein I get my degree in creative writing. I said to them, “That’s a terrible idea, but that is on you. I love money.” And– and I thought about it and I thought, “You know what? I do have some advice to give.” “Okay, class of whatever year this is. You’ll find it doesn’t matter. Okay. You guys, don’t move to Los Angeles with the promise of a touring Star Trekshow. Uh… hook up on a one-night stand with a Vulcan. He gives you an STD that you let go for so long that when you finally go to the Planned Parenthood in Hollywood, California, the doctor says, ‘Why did you let this get so bad?’ Don’t do that!” Ah. “Don’t send in your 1040 IRS forms with ‘Sorry, don’t get it,’ smiley face, exclamation point.” Oh. Okay. “Uh, don’t move into an apartment where the landlord allegedly accepts sex for rent, and then not have money for rent. Turns out, he was not interested. I just had to move out!” Oh, there’s so much here. Um… so, I asked the university, I said, “Hey…” Well, ’cause they didn’t mention it, “What are we talking about, in terms of Bitcoin?” They said, “No, it’s an honor.” And I Googled “hon-or.” And sometimes a “hon-or” comes with a paid “hon-orarium.” They said, “No.” I went to my business advisor, who’s my dear friend Jackie’s 83-year-old father, Elliot Kashian. He’s a former aluminum siding salesman currently living at the VA hospital in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I said, “Mr. Kashian, what do I do?” He says,

[imitating Kashian] “Okay, you never say no without a number. That means, if you’re not even sure you want the job, put out something ridiculous, something you’ve never gotten before in your life. That way, either you get a ton of money, or you don’t have to do it.”


So, let’s remember that their initial parry was zilch. I counter-thrusted with 20 grand.



Oh, I received the following e-mail in response.

[imitating midwest man] “Oh, you dirty little bird. You and your filthy feathered fat pants used to be a nice girl from Duluth, Minnesota, but now you’re from L.A. with your eyes made of lead and steel. We’re a non-profit.” They– they didn’t say that. They said, “We’ll get back to you.” But I read between the lines. And I do know that schools are educational charities, that they– I’m very happy, I just heard they had a successful fundraiser. Uh, I’m not sure if it was a bake sale, but they did raise $900 million for their new athletic facility. Presumably for the poets. Was the University of Minnesota trying to suggest that I could not get paid for the one thing that I paid them to teach me how to get paid to do?

[cheers, applause]

And I tell you, no, ma’am. They came back three days later with ten– $10,000. I woulda done it for $600 plus air and hotel. Ugh. Uh, Mr. Kashian said, “Okay, now you say, ‘We’ll split the difference, fifteen,’ and then you settle for twelve-five.” But the guilt of the old country had done its work. And I went with ten, and then I ended up feeling so bad about myself that, as a part of the speech, I gave the money away to kids in the audience to pay down their student loans. Sounds like a nice thing to do. That is the only way I’m able to do kind things. If it is in public and it is grandiose. Uh, I am an atheist, but I’m nothing if not ethically competitive. My husband and I, we found out that, most religions, you’re supposed to give at least ten percent of your income away to charity. So we’re giving 11. We don’t even fucking believe in Heaven, but we’re going! No, I’m just jealous. I’ve never had a religious experience. I have a friend who’s having them all the time. She takes ayahuasca, so she’s…

[low female voice] “A red dragon told me I really need to raise the prices on my jewelry.”

[normal voice] I wish I had a fucking red dragon to tell me to take specific price-point related actions in my small business.

[low growly voice] “Why not create a passive income stream by selling already colored-in anxiety coloring books… so that people don’t feel bad about not finishing them?”

[normal voice] “I’m listening, dragon.” Uh, I haven’t had a spiritual awakening, but I have been so bored– on a mindfulness meditation retreat in the Malibu Hills– that I walked directly into some trees. And who but aging action star Nick Nolte should come out of that forest carrying a ridiculously large submarine sandwich. I– I have nothing guiding me from within beyond a moldering origami skeleton of women’s magazines articles from the late ’90s. Uh, so when I see someone who has a sign of what they believe on their person– you know, like, they have an earring or like a necklace– what? Uh, it’s just to remind me not to be a jackass. “Oh, right, right.” Um, or if they have a robe on, I always feel like asking them, just saying, “Hey, you really doing that over there? The whole thing? Okay, all right. That’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. I read some of your shit. All right, all right. Well, good for you, yeah, no. I’m gonna be keeping an eye on you. I want to make sure you’re doing everything your hat says you are.” [laughs] Oh. I even get a little irritable when I see the words-on-shirts trend. I saw a woman my age, she was wearing a t-shirt that said “Truly, Madly, Deeply” in a giant Santa Barbara font, very beautiful. But she herself was shuffling along carrying a to-go bag from the Cheesecake Factory in a pair of worn purple Crocs with a little smile on her face. “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” I want to see you running covered in the blood of a loved one while screaming, “Done is better than perfect.” You can, of course, keep the Crocs, those are on message. But I’d prefer to see them sloshing in the entrails of your recent kill. Um… I was at a yogoo class, and I call it “yogoo” ’cause I in no way enjoy it or respect it. And– and packed class. One woman had clearly gotten there early. She had a big moat of space around herself. She had all of her blobs and wads and wickets and sticks. And– and, uh, I had gotten there late, so I had to ask her, ‘Hey, could ya scoot your mat?” And unfortunately for her, she had a t-shirt on with font large enough for me to read it– the word “Compassion.” Aw, shit, you gotta scoot the mat, beeatch. [laughs] Oh. I’m not the one wearing the t-shirt. If I were to wear any t-shirt, it would be blank on the outside, and then on the inside where only I could see it, it’d say, “Kickin’ ass.” That would– uh… But has anyone had a fight on the Internet recently? Any fights? Yes, yes? No, no. No. Oh, somebody’s trying to raise your hand. You’re about to start a fight. Exciting. -Have you had a fight? Yes? -Sure. Yeah, yeah, what’d you fight about on the Internet? -Hmm. -Green beans. Green beans? For real? [indistinct] Sure– oh, oh, you’re just impro– are you– you’re a kind improviser. You don’t have a strong opinion about green beans, do you? [indistinct] Now, your face. I’m reading, I’m reading. I’m not– I’m not a professional, but I can read the body language. You’re just trying to help, I appreciate that. And, uh– and, by helping, sometimes we harm, am I right? I should– I should know that. I’m a white woman. [laughs]


“How can I get in there?”

I love the Internet because it is a place of learning and healing, in that I’m a dinosaur. I’m slipping into the tar of irrelevant redundancy. And, uh– So I’m forever horrified by what new thing I may say that will alienate people I care about. So, I– a year and a half ago, I did write an essay and I was hired to write an essay on a topic that I have no personal experience in– satirical. What? And wrote it, put it out there. Some very nice people said to me, “Hey Maria, we’re real disappointed because it’s trans-phobic, many of the things you said,” and, uh, “Oh, my God, wow. Apologies all around. I will read some books on gender identity and sexuality. Yay, team!” Uh, and then the publishing company, because they still thought it was funny, they didn’t want to take it down. And I got the electric experience of getting to teach someone a lesson I just learned! “You should be ashamed of yourselves.” So, uh, I– I have a friend who’s always posting things that are kind of mad, but I’m not sure exactly about what. Like, “If you know who you are and you do but you get it and you don’t, repost but don’t like, because you aren’t a grinder and you don’t hustle. I hustle, I grind. Hashtag skincare.” I hope this involves multi-level marketing. I want to be on all sides of the argument. Um, do you ever feel like you just want to know that you’re– you’re a pretty good person? Like, that you’re just– you’re good as someone everyone considers to be pretty good. You know? You– maybe you’re not Santa but you’re not the Golden State Serial Killer. Like you’re– or maybe you’re just better than one person. And I always think it’s gotta be somebody who’s following a religion, who’s deeply religious. So then you can go mano-a-mano, and examples from their own philosophy, so you can see who’s ahead, like who specifically is winning. Uh… So I called my mom, I said, “Mom, you’re a Christ-ian. Would you be willing to go with me, three rounds, in your own religion, to see which one of us is the better person?” And she said…

[imitating mother] “What?”

[normal voice] Round one! These are all stories from the “Beeblay” I remember as a kid, uh, about how you’re supposed to act in the world. First story, Good Samaritan. Jewish guy is left for dead on the side of the road. His two best friends leave him behind ’cause they’ve got time management issues. Uh, a third guy, his sworn enemy, a Samaritan– always the rule of three in the Bible– one, two, then the kicker, just like comedy– and, uh, so the Samaritan, his enemy, stops, puts him on his donkey, rubs him down with oils and herbs and spices. Bible’s a lot about spa treatments. And then takes him back to his home, saves his life. So, uh, in Los Angeles, we are, of course, living in a human rights violation. Every few inches is an opportunity to experience the Old Testament. Uh, outside Target, Santa Monica Boulevard. I was out there. Man, uh, my age, six foot five, maybe we’d done an improv class together, at some point. I know I did say, “Yes, and…” to someone of his height and weight And I was doing okay. He, however, was covered in filth. No shirt, no shoes, sores on his feet, uh, catatonic, not aware of any outside stimuli, and a secondary face of snot covering his own face. Here’s what I should’ve done, according to the rules of the game. I should’ve gone straight up to him and said, “Okay, hello. I know you can’t hear me. But I’m gonna– you’re a big man, but I’m gonna flat pack you into my Prius. That’s right. Now I’m gonna spray you down with Axe body spray, whatever flavor you want. I would recommend Taboo. Then– then take you back to our house, live with us, and then be his best friend for the rest of his life, especially if he does not want me to be his best friend, ’cause that’s what best friends are fucking for. What did I actually do, in real life? Uh, in real life, first I went into Target to get a couple things that I needed. Then came out, had a $20 bill. I had wet some paper towels down. Put those at this man’s feet while stepping away, whispering, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” And I felt good about that.

[imitating announcer] That’s a low bar for Marilyn to clear. She’s armchair quarterbacking it from the sidelines. Marilyn, what would you do on the field in this play?

[imitating mother] “Oh, honey, you know. You cannot drive yourself crazy. There are organizations to help people like that. what did you get at Target?” [normal voice] Round two! The story of Esther. Hot, hot Jewish lady. She wins a beauty pageant to marry the king. She does not tell the king that she’s Jewish. The king says, “Hey, guess what? I think I’m gonna kill all the Jews.” And she’s like, “Oh, shit. Um, guess what, I’m Jewish, and so are my friends and family.” And he was like, “What?! I didn’t know Jews were so fuckin’ hot. I’m gonna kill the guy who told me to kill all the Jews. Somebody has to die, this is a children’s book.” So, uh, you’re supposed to speak truth to power, put yourself in danger on behalf of the voiceless. I would argue the most maligned group of untouchables in Los Angeles are extras. People in the background of film and television. I have many times been an extra. You are left without food, water, bathroom breaks for hours at a time. They throw buckets of Red Vines at you. And most painfully, you’re inches away from a tiny, gorgeous group of people who are having all their dreams come true.

So, I, uh– I had my own TV show, Lady Dynamite, on Netflix.

[cheers, applause]

Thank you. [indistinct] Requisite applause break. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you for– thank you. Thank you. Uh, I– uh, here’s what I should’ve done, according to the rules of the game. I should’ve made a big speech at the beginning of production. I should’ve said, “Netflix, should you massage my kale with avocado and sea salt and lemon, so, too, should you massage the kale of the extras. For that which you scream at the extras, ‘Use the port-a-potties a thousand yards away,’ so do you scream at me, for I, too, am an extra.” Uh, what did I actually do? My very own husband was an extra. He calls me. [imitating Scott] “They have us in a van. Uh… it’s over a hundred degrees in here. The guy won’t let us out. It’s locked from the outside. Hey, I can– I can see you, can you see me?” [normal voice] “Oh. Oh, yes, shit, babe, yeah, I’ll try to– I’ll get somebody over there, but they’re doing my hair.” I asked my mom what she would’ve done. [imitating announcer] Pop fly ball to the outfield. Easy catch, Marilyn, but the sun’s in her eyes. Marilyn, what would you do? [imitating mother] “Oh, I mean, if it were me, I’d pay to be part of the magic.”

[imitating announcer] Marilyn in the penalty box with her first lie. Ahem, she’s lying. So, round three. Okay, not looking good for my mom. The following is one of the creepiest stories from the Bible, of which there are so many. Uh, please Google the story where the father can’t stop touching his daughter’s feet. That’s from the book of… [gagging] Verse yikes. This story bothered me ever since I was little. It’s– okay, it starts out– slave owner. Oh, my God, what? Tells three of his slaves,

[imitating surfer dude] “Hey, you guys, I just had this great idea. Um, I’m gonna give you each a bag of gold, okay? And, um, you do whatever it is you want to do with it, man. No, honey, you do you. No. No, I’m not gonna tell you what to do with it. That’s the whole thing! That’s what makes it fun! I’m gonna fuck off for seven years. But if I come back and you’ve done the wrong thing, I’m gonna kill you. We good?” The first guy is terrified. He does what I’d do, buries the gold underground. Keep it safe. Money market funds and CDs. Second guy goes, “M-maybe he wants me to risk a little bit of the capital so that the– and make a little profit, but something meaningful from the heart like upcycled wet naps, uh, sew them each into dollhouse quilts.” Makes a little money. Third guy says, “Uh, I’m just gonna buy a factory with the gold, and then I’m gonna enslave people myself, force them all to make sweatpants that say ‘Not Today, Satan’ on the butt.” And he becomes a kabillionaire, as he well should. Now, who is the guy who does not die at the end of this story? It’s the guy who makes the most money!

[woman in audience whoops]

[mouths] What? I asked my mom, “Mom, so, are you bringing in any cash? Christ just needs cash. Christ needs cash. God is invoicing.”

[imitating mother] “Oh, no, honey, no, you know, I haven’t been feeling so good, with the chemotherapy and the immunotherapy stuff, some of the lung stuff, so I– we’re– and we’re trying to just, you know, enjoy each day.”

[normal voice] “Mom!” ‘Cause she can make bank. She used to be a therapist. You don’t have to be that good at being a therapist to make a ton of money. I have been paying this one woman, online therapy, 200 bucks a month. She just texted me, “Christine, of course you’re stressed, you just had a baby.” And it was helpful! Of course I’m stressed, I just had a baby.

[imitating mother] “But the lesson is, honey, with that story, is you’re supposed to do everything that you can with exactly what you have.”

[normal voice] Uh-oh. I’m not doing that. A lot of comics sell merch after shows. Uh, very thoughtful people have asked me, in a nice way, “Hey, Maria. Do you have any merch?” To which I’ve sometimes said, “Uh, why don’t you make your own fuckin’ merch? No, you take a piece of masking tape, you write ‘comedy’ on it… Slap that on your sock.” “But, Mom, you’re not bringing it in.”

[imitating mother] “I know, I’m a drain on the Lord’s resources. But I was so mad at your father ’cause I told him, you know, to keep within our budget. He bought organic. He bought all organic, and– but then I had an orange. And it was an organic orange. I want to tell you about this ’cause it was so good. It was– it made me think of my father… and how we went to Florida when I was five and– so beautiful, and just the trees– and then how much work goes in to harvest– you know, the UFW, United Farm Workers union and Cesar Chavez and the sun. The sun. And the next thing you know, I had eaten the whole peel and the label.” [laughs] “But I looked it up on Weight Watchers and it’s still okay, it’s still no points. The label and the peel are free.”

[normal voice] So I had to tell her, “Mom, I mean, it seems I’m a much– three clear rounds. I’m a much better person than you are.”

[imitating mother] “Oh, that’s good, honey. Well, good for you.”

[normal voice] “Mom, I’m a much better Christian than you are.”

[imitating mother] “Oh, well, I’m so glad that you remember all those stories. That’s good, that’s good.”

[normal voice] “God, I’m so much better than you are.” Except for the fact that you’ve raised me thanklessly for 18 years. You’ve allowed me to do extremely unattractive impersonations of you for another 35 years, to your face. And you’re also not… [imitating announcer] …judging me in public over a microphone.” Hat trick, alley-oop, hole in one in the final seconds of the game for Marilyn.

[cheers, applause]

It’s not– I’m not a professional. You know, it’s just– it’s just– joy is my choreographer. All right. Um… So, uh, I have two hot chunks left, two thick slices. If you need to take care of yourself, if you need to go night-night, you know, uh, please go, you’re okay by me. I know, I’m grateful that you came here at all. I’m grateful for the context you provide. Without your presence, this might seem bizarre. Uh… I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it. Have you ever looked around your life and thought, “Uh-oh… uh, this isn’t temporary.” [grimaces] “This may, in fact, be who I am.” I– I like to think of myself as a sophisticate. Um, I get the New York Times and their ten free articles a month. Uh… but it’s also true that I was recently on a Southwest Airlines flight, middle seat. I had just tremble-spilled my Diet Coke all over myself and my two new friends, and I looked down and I was wearing an outfit that I purchased entirely earlier that day at a San Antonio, Texas, CVS. Hook ‘Em Horns tee, Aztec print poly legging, open toe shower shoe. I’d like to think that’s a one-off. But that’s gonna happen again. I enjoy a last-minute fashion binge at a regional drugstore. ‘Cause they– they got those little crinkle shirts that get so big.


They’re doll size, but then they fit. Uh, you know, you have your, uh, publicized version of yourself on Instagram. I don’t know what your face is like on Instagram, but, God, do I laugh. God, I am laughing. If I’m not laughing, if I’m not laughing– and I laugh– if I’m not laughing, I’m outside, okay? Okay? And if I’m not laughing outside, I’m with friends and family. Right? Friends and family. That’s who I am. Friends and family. Uh, but while I’m looking at those pictures, I’m kinda trying to make ’em move but they won’t work ’cause the layer of sriracha almond dust is so thick. [groaning] And I’m very much alone in a 7-Eleven. So, it was no surprise when I found myself on a reality show called Worst Cooks: Celebrity Edition. Who’s who of who? [chuckles] Oh. It’s myself, Ian Ziering, 90210, one of the kids from Modern Family. I’m sorry, I didn’t watch it. Uh, Balki from Perfect Strangers. That’s a deep dive. Uh, then LaToya Jackson from 20th century American history.


I lied to get on the show. Eighteen-hour shoots. They said, “Can you do it?” [winces] I can do four hours, uh, upright and sentient. Then I gotta go home. Too tie-tie. Too tie-tie. And, uh– but I thought, maybe I can do one day. I’m on a lot of pharmaceuticals, but I thought, “Come on! Come on, Bamford.” I made it through the first day. They didn’t eliminate anyone. Uh, the second day, I am losing– I start sliding down walls. I– I hid underneath the craft service table for a while, and then I cut myself while gutting the monkfish and I bled into my pizza, and I was on LaToya’s team. She’s am– she’s 65. She looks 12. I said, “LaToya, how are you doing this?” And she said… [high voice] “It’s all in your mind.” Shit. Aw, shit. You’re gonna win. And she does. You’re not gonna watch it. Uh… We’re on the same team. I cut my pineapples for a pineapple upside-down cake. I hand– handed them to LaToya, and she said… [high voice] “They’re uneven. Do it again.” [sleepy voice] “LaToya, you know this doesn’t matter.” And is that how I always am, always making fun of things from the outside, always acting like I’m doing half-assed because what if that weren’t true? What if I was actually doing the best I possibly could and I still failed miserably? Hmm. I did not redo the pineapple slices. But I did say directly into camera my favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote while smashing garlic. [imitating Roosevelt] “It is not the critic who counts. It is the man who is in the arena!”

[cheers, applause]

“Marred by blood and sweat and tears.” The Food Network then re-edited that to… [laughing nervously] The end of the second day, I’m dying. I– I asked them if I could leave and they said no. Eighteen-hour day. So I found the youngest person I could on set, and I said, [whispering] “Hello. Hello. We’re both powerless. Um, do whatever you need to take of yourself. I’m gonna start sprinting as soon as we stop talking. Uh, don’t worry about me. I’ve been fired so many times before, the only backlash I’ve ever received has been an enormous rush of relief. So…”

[cheers, applause]

She then did some beautiful kabuki theater of, “No, Miss Bamford, please! Don’t!” That I very much appreciated, and then I wasn’t fired ’cause nobody cared. But, uh, third day, I’m not sure. They must’ve said something. They took me and Oscar Nuñez aside– from The Office– and they said, “Hey, uh”– off camera, they said, “Hey, you’re both terrible.” Uh, who wants to go home the most?” Ah! God, yes! So, I agreed to fix a salad battle against Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach from Dukes of Hazzard. And, you know, if you’re gonna throw a fight, I could’ve just taken a raw chicken cutlet, stuffed it in a glass of water and said, “Salad.” But I did not. And I think that’s who I am, as a least-known person on a Food Network reality show, who does the best work when I know I’ve already quit. And also can’t make it through a third day of work, even for charity. Did I mention it was for charity? Oh, oh, no. Oh, boy. Thank goodness my charity was the National Alliance for Mental Illness. I know they would’ve said, “Girl, you’re on Seroquel. Go home.” Is that something? Should I–? Okay, uh… Uh, so this, uh– this last bit, um, my husband and I, we had a terrible kerfuffle about two years ago. It was awful, so scary. We went to our therapist afterwards, and she said that there’s a point when you’re in a fight with someone where– it’s called “Saturation point,” where you just– you have too many emotions and your blood pressure’s too high and you must stop. You must stop talking, you must stop– you must distract yourself. Do anything, because otherwise you will say or do something you regret. And, unfortunately, we didn’t know that before this fight. Uh, ahem. Uh, emotional architecture for the fight. I have this voice. It’s been suggested to me throughout my lifetime that because of it, I might be a dumb-dumb. Which, it’s okay if I say it, no? I don’t know. Uh, but, yeah, I don’t want– like seeming incompetent, even though sometimes I am. And, um– and then also a spate of DJs in the ’90s would ask me,

[low voice] “Is the age you sound the age you were molested at?”

[scattered groans] [high voice] Is this where the healing begins? Oh, I was, uh– [chuckles] I was touched inappropriately as a child, so I’m not a fan of being touched, especially at work. A lot of people do this, men and women do this. Uh, it’s supposed to be comforting, I guess. They touch you by the small of your back, guiding you places. I got guided up to the stage recently. “Ah! I know where it is.” Um… If that stuff– some people feel comforted by it– if it’s something you like to do, ask next time. “Hey, do you mind if I touch you around the midriff at work?” And if I get the okay, then go for it. Uh, so, my husband– won’t speak to his experience, just that he grew up in a big family, Philadelphia. There’s no food ’cause somebody was drinking it all. And though he had a place to live, he would oftentimes, for safety, sleep in the woods. Forty years later, we’re trying to decide where to put the new TV. Uh… It’s a over-100 degree day in Los Angeles. We just moved in together. Uh, setting the scene. A little hot, tired. “Shall we put the TV on the fireplace?” “No, that’s where the fire goes.” [laughs] “Should we put it on that wall?” “No, that’s where we’re gonna do improv with the dogs, and the dogs can play whatever they want. You know, just because we have a pug and a Chihuahua doesn’t mean that’s always what they want to be in a scene. Let them identify themselves as a baby or a package.” “No, all right, let’s put the TV in the cozy corner.” “Oh, my, God. I love you so much. Cozy corner is a cozy couch corner– corner– couch corner for kissing and cuddling. [smooching] Scott leaves, the TV guy comes, he says, “Where do you want it?” I say… “On the fireplace.” And as they’re drilling two-and-a-half inch diameter holes in what I now understand to be a hundred-year-old sandstone fireplace– I think to myself, “Hmm.” Scott comes home, he says, “Where is it?” I said, “Ah.” [gasping] “Maria, we talked about this for a weird amount of time. Can I not trust you to get things done by yourself?” He goes to hug me, but I have begun to scream-cry. “Don’t you touch me. Don’t you dare touch me.” And from thence, we wrote together this song about love. Oh, wait, I forgot. Is Scott in here? -Scott, you here?

[Scott] What? You gonna come down and sing the song with me? Come on, booboo.

[cheers, applause]

Yeah! Yay. Yeah, yeah. Look at this guy. [Maria laughs] Ah- ah.

[audience cheering]

Okay. [laughs] Should we start the song?

♪ Um, I’m on the phone with my mom having lots of laughs ♪
♪ She loves all my new jokes, except for the one about Trump ♪

[imitating mother] Honey, you could get on a list.
[normal voice] Mom, I can say whatever I want.

♪ No, you can’t, yes, I can ♪

[imitating mother] Honey, you sound speedy. Are you manic? [normal voice] Oh, fuck you!

♪ It’s saturation point ♪

It’s been 20– [laughs]

[cheers, applause]

♪ It’s been 20 minutes we’ve been on the phone ♪
♪ It’s saturation point ♪ We both got toxic, it just got triggered ♪
♪ I’ll call you tomorrow, let’s just ♪
♪ Shut up ♪ I’m on a trip with some girlfriends ♪
♪ So fun, New Orleans ♪ Just had dinner, it’s time for dessert ♪
♪ Marquetta says… ♪ Hey, it’s crème brulee ♪
♪ Marquetta says, “Hey, no thanks.” ♪ Katie says… ♪ It’s crème brulee ♪
♪ I say something I just read in a women’s magazine ♪ “Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels.” “Shut the fuck up, Maria.”
♪ It’s saturation point ♪ It’s been 72 hours, we’ve been having a girl’s time ♪
♪ It’s saturation point ♪ We’re all menopausal, we just had martinis ♪
♪ Let’s just change the subject ♪ ♪ there goes a blue car ♪ I said things, you said things ♪
♪ We said things ♪ I said things, you said things ♪ ♪ We said things ♪ I said things, you said things ♪
♪ We said things ♪ I said things, you said things ♪
♪ We said things [cheers, applause] ♪ I’m on a walk with my husband ♪
♪ So in love with him ♪ I tell him something I’m worried about ♪
♪ He gives unsolicited advice ♪
♪ I say, “Hey, I don’t feed any feedback ♪
♪ He says… ♪ What am I, a piece of meat walking beside you? ♪ That’s actually the definition of listening. ♪ You say… ♪ That’s not funny ♪ I bring up your ♪ Dead dad ♪ Saturation point ♪ Let’s both take our phones, let’s watch animal videos ♪
♪ The one with the dog and the monkey ♪
♪ The mouse and the cat ♪ The duck and the chicken ♪ The turkey and the turtle ♪ Let’s just shut up ♪ I love you, you love me, let’s just ♪
♪ Shut up ♪ I love you, you love me, let’s just ♪
♪ Shut up [imitating mother] Hey, honey, there’s this great new book I read about by a comedian, and it just won a prize. A memoir by a comedian, it won a prize. [normal voice] Oh, I’m sorry, Mom. Is that the daughter you wanted?

♪ I love you, you love me, let’s just shut up ♪
♪ I love you, you love me, let’s just shut up ♪

Hey, dad, what did you think of my TV show?

[imitating father] Ahem, what– whatever you need to do for money.

♪ I love you, you love me ♪ ♪ Just shut up

[normal voice] Uh, let’s just talk about something else, like how dogs– dogs– some people say they don’t like wearing hats, -but I– they do. -They do. Yeah, like ours get a little smile. Yeah. [high voice] I love wearing a hat. Did you hear that? The dog said it. Himself. He loves wearing hats. ♪ I love you, you love me.

Good night, thank you so much.

Thank you.

[cheers, applause]

Thank you so much for coming out. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Good night, thank you so much! Thank you!

[cheers, applause continue]

Thank you so much. Can you guys do an example of caring and sharing? Like, just with something, you know– just with your past week. I’m the only one who ever brings up a complaint or a concern. And so your– Marilyn never has brought up a concern. Oh, that’s not true. Uh, so, anyway. I don’t do it anymore. If anybody wanted to learn more about that whole business of caring and sharing, they could go to a workshop at [indistinct] in Northern California. That’s what we did, and it was pretty great. But you guys don’t do it. Yes, we do do it. You don’t do the shar– the part where you say the concern. But we don’t have– if we don’t have a big resentment. But Dad just said he stopped saying his sharing because– Because it’s a one-way street, yeah. -A one-way street. -Yeah. -Well, okay.

[laughing] I’m not gonna make anything up just to take care of him. And that’s that. Oh, huh. Well, there it is.


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