COMEDIAN MARIA BAMFORD is on her way to the vet. I'm worried. It was only a few years back that her elderly pug died in a backyard accident that Bamford blames herself for.
"I killed my best friend by accident, Blossom the awesome pug... so anyways, I typed in 'I killed my loved one' into an internet search engine, and up came a chat room where a woman talked to me for an hour who had left her baby in a hot car. We're all doing the best we can, and sometimes it is not that good," she says to an audience of two—her parents—in her 2013 comedy special The Special Special Special!
So you can see why I'm concerned—WHAT'S WRONG WITH HER OTHER PUG?
"One of our pugs, Arnold, he has this ongoing bronchial thing. Pugs have a number of health problems, so we're always on our way to the vet or coming back from the vet. It is not an emergency, but if you hear any hacking or snorting, that's Arnold," Bamford says via phone from Los Angeles.
I am certainly not alone when I say that the Minnesota-raised stand-up is the funniest human being on the planet, but her long career has not exactly been built on a pillar of stability. Whether she's impersonating her straitlaced sister or her well-meaning but puzzled mother, Bamford's performances are frank, earnest, and face-shreddingly funny. They're also chockablock with self-deprecating stories of her struggles with depression and bipolar disorder, and dead-on impersonations of the inherent weirdness of "normal" people as filtered through her off-kilter humor. She is wildly and wonderfully a grade-A comic genius weirdo.
Thankfully, others have noticed that there's much too little Bamford in our everyday lives, and Arrested Development's Mitch Hurwitz aims to fix that. He's producing the new Netflix show Lady Dynamite, scheduled for release in mid-April. "It's a highly fictionalized version of an autobiographical story of stuff in my life. Magical realism has been layered into it." What does the title mean, I ask. "It means I'm the exact opposite. I have no energy. I'm currently wearing slippers right now and have a blanket over me, so that paints a picture.
"Perhaps Mitch saw that I could show up on time [on Arrested Development as her character DeBrie], and that I didn't smell overtly. So he said, 'Let's make a television show...'" Bamford is interrupted by the sound of a dog whining. "Uh oh, that's Arnold," she says. "His dogfather left so he's in a state of crisis. You're okay! You're okay. Sorry, what was the question?"
It doesn't even matter, because I could listen to her coo at Arnold for hours, soundtracked by a panoply of barking and snerfling, as all conversations with Maria Bamford should be.
While Arnold is probably staying at home, her mid-week "for fun" Portland shows will have a few special guests. "My husband and parents are coming to the shows in Portland!" An audience complete with Maria Bamford's parents? Expect it to be a lot like her 2013 special... excellent.