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Maria Bamford

  • Barrymore 2090 Atwood Avenue Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

It seems to fascinate and astound people to no end that a comedian has helped raise awareness of mental illness, but that framing tends to do Maria Bamford a disservice in two crucial ways: She's tremendously funny, and it's always been a funny person's "job" since the royal courts to make the masses think about things they wouldn't or couldn't otherwise. Furthermore, Bamford makes her material about invasive thoughts, frustrations with other people's faked sincerity, bullshit careers, frustrating families, pop culture's disposability, and hypocrisy as relatable as it is inventive and bizarre. In her stand-up sets, Bamford seeks to highlight at least an exaggeration of her own awkwardness, hovering in the same general orbit as Amy Sedaris and Tracey Ullman's proclivity for doing about 60 or so characters a second (like, say, the devil and a country-club valley girl shooting the shit), and every now and then interjecting as herself either to provide a non-sequitur tangent or relating directly. This ratatat performing style works, honestly, because Bamford doesn't attempt to make it all cohesive. Her act's stream-of-consciousness feel has always been the point. Even if you're not much for stand-up, chances are you've run into her work elsewhere, since Bamford has been a prolific voice actor with a wide vocal range since the 1990s, popping up in everything from CatDog and Home Movies and Hey Arnold! to Adventure Time and BoJack Horseman. She also was in Arrested Development's Netflix revival fourth season in 2013, playing DeBrie Bardeaux opposite David Cross' equally quirky Tobias Fünke. That collaboration with show creator Mitch Hurwitz yielded last year's Netflix series Lady Dynamite, which is equal parts an auto biographical and fictionalized version of her life after recovering from a breakdown, taking place simultaneously during three different time periods. That series might be the best point of entry for newcomers, but grab her classic 2009 stand-up album Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome for a deeper introduction. —David Wolinsky

Earlier Event: September 8
Killer Of Sheep (free)
Later Event: September 8
Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra