Julie Seabaugh served as A&E staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and has contributed to Rolling Stone, GQ, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, The Huffington Post, Spin, Revolver, Budget Travel, Vulture, Alternative Press, Time Out New York, Time Out Chicago, L.A. Weekly, Seattle Weekly, Nashville Scene, Kansas City Pitch, St. Louis’s Riverfront Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Denver’s Westword, Houston Press, Miami New Times and The Las Vegas Sun.
John Merriman has worked with the Moontower festival since it's inception in 2012. He is the co-host of the festival's long-running interview series "Inside Joke" where he has interviewed luminaries including Steven Wright, Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt. Before Moontower, he spent five years at the Austin Film Fesival as a film programmer where he helped launch the Comedy Vanguard program and the Funniest Filmmaker in Austin series. He has called Austin his home since 1996.
With the blessed delivery of her brand-new online Special Special Special and her quick two-day engagement at Cap City last week, we’ve been getting just the right dosage of Maria Bamford lately: a heaping shit-ton.
I’m not sure how many times y’all have watched SSS already, but we here at Moontower just can’t get enough of it. The freshness of performing just for her parents (and all of the ripe meanings behind that!), the sheer nerve of performing some of those jokes for a two-person audience, the jokes themselves… It really is a masterpiece to behold.
And then, right on the show’s heels, she shows up right here in our backyard! Again! Besides being even funnier in person, Bamford’s two nights at Cap City left everyone feeling, ironically, so happy. Not just not-sad, but genuinely euphoric.
It was great seeing Bamford’s real-life pals Jackie Kashian and local host Kerri Lendo in the nights’ proceedings as well, proving once more the baselessness of that maddening prejudice about women lacking the funny gene. These were, in fact, two of the best, most rewarding nights of stand-up in Austin we experienced all year.
Did you catch Bamford (and Kashian and Peretti and Foley and Rajskub) last year during the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival’s “Ladies’ Night” She-Bang? THAT was another one of those nights to hold on to.
Filmed in her parents’ living room with Dad Joel and Mom Marilyn Bamford as the only audience members, the direct-to-fans special will be available for download from Chill.com on November 28th.
Her parents have long been a part of her routine, but this special promises to bring it to a whole new level of intimacy. “Why bother with an audience of strangers when you can seek your parents’ approval directly?” Bamford says of the unique format.
The delightfully quirky Bamford has three brilliant solo standup CDs in addition to the now-classic Comedians of Comedy tour with Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Zach Galafianakis.
We adore Bamford’s gentle brand of controlled chaos more than most, so we’re on pins and needles until this experiment in hysterical familial discomfort comes available.
Look for Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special on Chill.com on Nov. 28!
“I love Maria Bamford. She makes me laugh. I think she’s hysterically funny. She performs all over the place [in LA]. Have you seen her? She’s so funny— she’s one of the few people that really makes you laugh hard, who’s doing something so interesting and insane. She does a lot of voices. She has a very high voice and she does a lot of characters and people in her life — with deep voices — and it’s just a unique, bizarre act. I’ve seen a lot of comics and it takes a lot to make me laugh really hard. And she definitely makes me laugh super hard.”
Judd Apatow to the Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Vankin (11/19/10)
It feels somewhat superfluous to comment on Maria Bamford after Judd Apatow’s words but his endorsement is representative of just how highly esteemed she is by professionally funny people and stand-up fans alike. Maria Bamford is widely and rightly hailed as one of America’s finest, most original, consistently creative, and unfailingly funny comedians. In comedy parlance (okay “vaudeville,” Jesus!), she’s the top banana. Yet, in an interview we did in 2003 (as a point of reference, the first YouTube video was uploaded in April 2005), she expressed concern about disappointing “people who have come to see general c-o-m-e-d-y, spelled with a series of bananas.” That comment spoke to her self-deprecation and her awareness that she can be a little quiet and odd, but she was exceptionally hilarious and inventive then, just as she is today. The only thing that’s changed is the public’s increased sophistication and appetite for the edge of the envelope-pushers (suck it, paper-pushers). Maria Bamford has created such a distinctive niche and name for herself that the term “Bamford-esque” would be part of contemporary lexicon if she weren’t one of a kind.
And the Los Angeles-based, Duluth, Minnesota-reared Bamford operates in a more performance-based manner that draws on surrealism, Dada, and the avant-garde, but this is not to say that her act is overly precious— it is not, it’s just funny. She uses her flair for voices to create living, breathing, startling vignettes— often about her family, depression, and wonderfully left field observations (and perhaps best manifest in her handmade web series The Maria Bamford Show). She has released three instant-classic stand-up CDs and has an abundance of TV credits. Bamford holds the distinction of being the first female comedian to have two Comedy Central Presents specials and was the sole lady on Patton Oswalt’s Comedians of Comedy tours (which were documented as a Michael Blieden-directed feature and as a Comedy Central series). Maria is also in great demand as an animation voiceover artist. For example, she voices the Praying Mantis and Aphrodite on the just-released, first episode of the Noah’s Ark series on Funny or Die (also voiced by Marc Maron and Jonathan Katz. Watch below and sensitive viewer discretion is advised).
The Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is doubly thrilled to have Maria Bamford on the lineup since she is such an Austin favorite— to the point that her multitude of local fans consider her an honorary citizen (not just because Texas needs the tax revenue). And certainly the People’s Republic of Austin would harbor The Bammer if things ever went “bad.” It’s a kinship thing. Like, the short-lived, Austin-based Punchy Tee company created a limited edition “Maria Bamford supports me in in my journey” T-shirt for charity. Proceeds went to the Austin Children’s Shelter last summer, which was rad because despite the ACS’s vital services and “home-like environment,” I’m not readily seeing on their web site (it’s after hours) if they too have a “No Kill” policy like the one the Austin City Council adopted two years ago for animal shelters. I’ll presume not. Was it reckless to speculate? Oh yeah, I’m the cheese here. The Hunger Games domestically grossed itself $270 million and rising. Hey, sometimes there’s further ado. Seriously though, Comedy Moontower was fortunate to have Maria Bamford take the time to answer a few questions via e-lec-tron-ic mail.
Steve Birmingham: At the time and still now in hindsight, an abundance of people (myself included), consider the Comedians of Comedy tours as part of the vanguard for this new era of excitement and appreciation for stand-up and uniquely talented comics. I concede that one person’s “watershed” can be another’s “string of venue restrooms, one grungier than the next,” but could you please describe how the shows and touring initially felt and also what your perspective is in retrospect?
Maria Bamford: It was a very short amount of time— the movie was 6 days and the TV show was maybe 10. It was nice to be with other comics on the road and most especially, comics whose work I admire. I also love gas station food— so I just remember it being a real boon. I’m so glad that anyone is inspired to create their own work/creative projects as a result, that’s what was helpful to me about it too.
SB: What is one of the funniest or most memorable moments from all that time with Patton, Brian [Posehn], and Zach [Galifianakis]?
MB: I guess— because of the nudity— I remember looking at dozens of coquettish photos sent to Zach from this guy in South America, if your anus may be described as a coquette.
SB: You created, single-handedly wrote, and performed in (save the late Blossom Bamford the Pug) your web series The Maria Bamford Show, which Damon Jones shot, directed and edited. The caliber of creativity and humor in those twenty episodes utterly shames the content and bloated budgets of many, many TV sitcoms (and by the way, congratulations on the Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibition of the show). How did the project come to fruition? And to what degree was the process of working (offstage) without interference empowering and fun but also potentially imposing when the Internet is forever and you’re impersonating your family and portraying exaggerated personal adversity?
MB: Well that’s nice to say about it, and it came from me wanting to be on a TV show, doing a one-woman show about it— as well as fears of “madness” from my family tree. Dan Pasternack, currently [VP, Development and Production] at IFC (Portlandia), let us do whatever we wanted. It was awesome possum.
SB: This is clearly not lifted from Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: What are your two favorite journeys?
MB: I like going to NYC and any beginning of a trip— leaving LA.
SB: With your flair for characters who do not filter their inner monologues and your wonderfully surrealistic propensity to suddenly shift a point of view or cadence, your work was perfectly at home on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Was there something you took away from collaborating with and/or observing Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim?
MB: From Tim and Eric— they are fast and loose and inexpensive! It’s super inspiring how they are low-key and just make lots and lots of content and don’t seem very pretentious about it. I would like to be them, but I can’t find openings in their skins.
SB: How do you think your material has changed in the last decade and how do you see it evolving in the future?
MB: I don’t know. I’ve got lots of food and suicide material for the next album. I can’t wait to find out the next new jokes via my strong connection to a God.
SB: You’ve always been honest about your Diet Coke, uh, hobby and on your “Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome” CD, you joke about growing older and “getting a Diet Coke hump.” What are your thoughts about an Australian cosmetic surgery clinic’s web site naming you for coining this condition under their “bridalplasty” section as reason for “body contouring”? Also, can you comment on the phenomenon of “bridalplasty”? Their site reads: “For some women it’s a mere formality, but for many, their wedding is considered the happiest day of their lives. That’s why, most brides want to look as radiant as they feel, and why for many, cosmetic tweaks are no longer a flight of fancy, they are a must. But just as with planning the reception, choosing the cake, making the guest lists, and selecting the flowers, ensuring you have the right surgeon, and the right information on procedures should be your top priority. After all, with all eyes on the bride, you’re going to want to wow.”
MB: Gosh. I did not come up with Bridalplasty. Let’s hope the right writer is recognized. Surgery and party planning!
SB: You’re an accomplished animation voiceover artist. Is the protocol that you’re generally hired for a job and then collaboratively hash out exactly how a character should sound or is auditioning some times involved? And even when working with the best in the biz, does voiceover work ever teeter towards ludicrousness when having to articulate potentially abstract directions or is that just part of being a pro?
MB: Voiceover is just fun. It’s, as Chris Rock suggested, fairly low-stress. I’m super lucky to get VO work and it is never more difficult than loading trucks of baked goods at night.
SB: Your voice talent is a hallmark of your act but in my view, it is always in the service of supremely crafty writing and engendering highly conceptual routines. A Rich Little, Michael Winslow, or joke-thrower, you ain’t but I’m curious about how you approach creating new material? Is your tendency to have a bit mostly written and rehearsed before trying it on stage?
MB: I try to write and rehearse it before but that could just be control freaking. I’ve been thinking of taking an improv class again to let go a little.
SB: I’ve never been a fan (Leo) Gallagher’s work, but I do hope that he fully recovers from his recent heart attacks and is able to enjoy a long retirement. However, I seriously think it is one of the greatest things ever in “comedy” that he franchised his brother Ron Gallagher to tour and perform his Sledge-O-Matic routine. It eventually got litigious but I think it’s astounding that Ron (aka Gallagher Too) had a successful run for so many years. What is something another comedian has done that you find amazing?
MB: I loved Gallagher as a kid and I haven’t really watched him since then, but I’m sure he’s just as skilled with the smashing and that’s great [if] he’s still working, still creating. Anyone who is still making an effort and failing and trying and failing and succeeding and trying etc., are pretty amazing in my book. I’m trying to get the courage to try new things and so people like Brent Weinbach or my close friend Jackie Kashian— to see anyone’s risking and repeat is a great joy. I just saw Eddie Pepitone last week and he blew my brainbox.
SB: What is your idea of artistic satisfaction?
MB: To keep trying new things, slow and steady production, and sharing with other comics good times and the horror, the horror.
SB: Austin, Texas, gets plenty of de rigueur compliments but since you’ve graced us with performances so often over the years, can offer some constructive criticism for Austin and/or our Austinites?
MB: Austinites are weird and should keep it that way. Hahahoho. The only thing I’d hope is that they don’t change into Dallas.
SB: Please finish this sentence: The one thing I’ve learned about stand-up comedy is ____.
MB: The one thing I’ve learned about stand-up is that I don’t know anything. And music mic stands look like praying mantises.
The Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest is honored to present Maria Bamford
Wed, April 25th at Cap City Comedy Club @ 8:00PM
Thu, April 26th at Cap City Comedy Club @ 8:00PM
Fri, April 27th at the ND (She Bang’s special guest) @ 8:00PM
Fri, April 27th at The Parish (Show House) @10:00PM
Purchase Tickets Here. You can also get tickets and badges at the Paramount Theatre box office or by calling 512-474-1221.
The box office is open Monday – Saturday 12pm – 5:30pm and is closed on Sundays.
Women comprise more than 50% of the U.S. population and workforce yet, on average, they still earn about 77.4% as much as men. Women are underrepresented in elected office, as CEOs, in Flomax commercials, and in the DGA (although inroads in the LPGA appear to be on the rise). But, pop culturally; the media seems to have evolved somewhat past the ghettoizing “Women in Rock” type features and we’re four years past Alessandra Stanley’s Vanity Faircover story that celebrated a new generation of comediennes and danced on the grave of the canard that women aren’t funny. She Bang is beyond merely revering female perspectives, it’s about presenting some of the most hilarious, creative, and thoughtful stand-ups bar none. It’s about gargantuan waves of laughter.
Hosted by Sean Patton, a man but a stand up one (VH1, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) and starring Rachel Feinstein (“Adult Swim,” Comedy Central), Erin Foley (Almost Famous, “Chelsea Lately”), Erin Jackson (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Last Comic Standing”), Jackie Kashian (“The Dork Forest,” Comedy Central), Chelsea Peretti (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” “The Sarah Silverman Program”), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Mr. Show”) and featuring special guest Maria Bamford, the She Bang Show is a unique opportunity to catch some of our nation’s smartest, funniest, and most talented comedic voices take the stage for Moontower’s tip of the hat to women… over on the East Side. I kid, the ND at 501 Studios is a rad venue. Honest.
Lineup subject to change due to the nature of live entertainment and not some old saw about it being a woman’s prerogative, although, talent contractual obligations notwithstanding, this here bloggo is a strong proponent of choice, women’s sovereignty over their bodies, and funding the Women’s Health Program. No joke, Govna.
She Bang is Friday, April 27th at the ND at 501 Studios. Doors @ 7:00pm & Show @ 8:00pm.
Purchase Tickets Here. You can also get them at the Paramount Theatre box office or by calling 512-474-1221. The box office is open Monday – Saturday 12pm – 5:30pm and is closed on Sundays.
The Paramount Theatre is announcing today single show tickets for the first annual Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival go on sale Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, at 10 a.m. Central Standard Time. Additional on sales and comics to be announced for the festival April 25-28, 2012 in Austin, TX.
The Festival is also proud to announce the addition of hilarious comedian Chelsea Peretti to the lineup, whose writing credits include NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.” She was also named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch in 2010, and has made appearances on shows like Louis CK’s “Louie” among others.
Tickets to individual performances from several of the stellar already announced Moontower comics including Aziz Ansari, Seth Meyers, Steven Wright, The Amazing Jonathan, Maria Bamford, W. Kamau Bell, Hannibal Buress, The Divorce Show, John Mulaney, and Chelsea Peretti will be available Thursday, Feb. 23. Additional performances will be added leading up to the festival. So, check back at www.moontowercomedyfestival.com for updates.
SINGLE PERFORMANCES ON SALE FEB. 23, 2012
AZIZ ANSARI @ Paramount Theatre
April 25th: 7:30pm & 10:00pm – Tickets starting at $38
THE AMAZING JONATHAN@ Cap City Comedy Club
April 26th: 10:30pm / April 27 & 28th: 8:00pm – Tickets starting at $18
MARIA BAMFORD @ Cap City Comedy Club
April 25 & 26th: 8:00pm – Tickets starting at $18
W. KAMAU BELL @ 29th Street Ballroom
April 27th: 10:00pm / April 28th: 7:30pm – $12
HANNIBAL BURESS @ The Parish
April 25th: 7:45pm – $15
THE DIVORCE SHOW @ Stateside at the Paramount
April 25 & 26th: 6:00pm – $12 (Happy Hour at 5:00pm)
SETH MEYERS @ Paramount Theatre
April 26th: 7:30pm – $40
JOHN MULANEY @ The Parish
April 27 & 28th: 7:45pm – $15
CHELSEA PERETTI @ The Parish
April 26th: 7:45pm – $15
STEVEN WRIGHT @ Paramount Theatre
April 28th: 7:30pm – $41
Again, please stay tuned for more comedians to be announced in the full lineup coming soon. The festival is slated to bring over 60 of the world’s best comedians (both established favorites and up-and-comers) to Austin, a city with an insatiable appetite for comedy and festivals alike. Spread out over 10+ venues around the city including the Paramount Theatre and Cap City Comedy Club, the festival will showcase stand-up, improv, sketch, musical comedy, and all of the odd and hilarious stuff in between.
*A note to current and prospective badge holders. Single tickets will be available for each performance. The VIP badge grants you access to all performances, with no need to purchase an additional ticket. The “You Betcha I’m Somebody Pass” gives you access to each performance, except those at the Paramount. For Paramount shows, “You Betcha” badge holders will have pre-sale access allowing them to get a jump on the crowd for the big shows. The “You Betcha” badge, while giving you the most bang for your buck as a great overall value badge, gets you access to the shows after VIP badge and single ticket holders and does not guarantee admission. However, the Festival will hold a limited number of seats set aside for these badges at each show for those first in line, so early arrival is suggested. It is suggested that “You Betcha” badge holders also take advantage of the special benefit of exclusive pre-sale access to purchase single tickets to “must see” performances and ensure your entry.
To purchase tickets for individual performances as well as festival badges ($129) and VIP badges ($799), go to www.moontowercomedyfestival.com. You can also get them at the Paramount Theatre box office or by calling 512-474-1221. The box office is open Monday – Saturday 12pm – 5:30pm and is closed on Sundays. The Paramount call center is open Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm and Saturday 12pm – 5:30pm, but it’s closed on Sundays.
On Thursday, this link will also be live for your one stop single performance tickets shop:
Follow us on facebook and twitter @moontowercomedy. Also check out all things comedy right here at the festival’s blog site www.comedymoontower.com.
ABOUT MOONTOWER COMEDY AND ODDITY FESTIVAL
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival was established in 2011 by the Paramount Theatre and will hold the first annual festival April 25-28, 2012 in Austin, TX. Moontower is dedicated to bringing world-class comedy to the city through a variety of performances in stand-up, sketch, improv and musical comedy by well know performers and up-and-comers alike.