Maria Bamford

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Maria Bamford
Bamford in 2008
Born (1970-09-03) September 3, 1970 (age 53)
EducationBates College
University of Edinburgh
University of Minnesota (BA)
  • Actress
  • comedian
Years active1989–present
Scott Marvel Cassidy
(m. 2015)
Comedy career
Subject(s) Edit this at Wikidata

Maria Bamford (born September 3, 1970)[1] is an American actress and stand-up comedian. Her work often uses self-deprecating and dark topics, including her dysfunctional family, depression, anxiety, suicide, and mental illness.

Her first comedy album and tour was The Burning Bridges Tour (2003), followed by eight more albums and specials. One of her first feature films is Lucky Numbers (2000), and she voiced characters on many animated shows, including Shriek on CatDog, and many more on American Dad!, Ugly Americans, Adventure Time, and BoJack Horseman. Her film work includes Stuart Little 2 (2002), Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure (2003), Barnyard (2006), Heckler (2007), and Hell and Back (2015). She voiced Talking Ginger and Talking Becca in the Talking Tom and Friends web series. Her live television work began in Louie (2012), Arrested Development (2013–2019), WordGirl (2007–2015), Big Mouth (2017–present), Flatbush Misdemeanors (2021-2022), and Human Resources (2022–2023). In 2014, she won the American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic.[2]

The 2016 Netflix original series Lady Dynamite, in which she plays the lead role, is based on her life. She voiced Tito, the Anxiety Mosquito, in Big Mouth.

In 2023 she released a memoir, Sure, I'll Join Your Cult.

Early life[edit]

Bamford's father, Joel Bamford, was serving as a Navy doctor. She grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, attending Chester Park Elementary and Duluth Marshall School. She has stated that when she was younger, she was often troubled with her anxiety, depression, and what she has called "Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome", a subset of obsessive–compulsive disorder.[3]

Upon graduating from high school, she attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. In 1992, she transferred to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland at the start of her junior year. She became the first female member of the college's improvised comedy group, The Improverts. After a year in Scotland, she transferred back to her home state and enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She began stand-up comedy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at age 19, at Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret.[citation needed]


Comedy beginnings: 1998–2008[edit]

Bamford has been in many movies and television shows, including cartoon voices. She was the voice of Shriek DuBois in Nickelodeon's CatDog, a wide selection of secondary characters in Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, and Mrs. Botsford, Violet, and Leslie on the PBS educational series WordGirl. She does impersonations, including her mother and her agent. Her stand-up comedy often takes the form of vignettes rather than the standard setup-and-punchline format.[citation needed]

Bamford was featured in the documentary series The Comedians of Comedy on Comedy Central and Showtime, and appears in short skits titled The Maria Bamford Show, broadcast on the website Super Deluxe. She appears on the comedy compilation CD Comedy Death-Ray.[citation needed]

Rise to prominence: 2008–2014[edit]

Her album Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome, produced by Comedy Central Records, was released in April 2009 and includes a DVD containing The Maria Bamford Show episodes. During the Christmas 2009–2010 shopping seasons, she was featured in a series of Target commercials, portraying an overachieving shopper determined to be first in line.[4] For Christmas 2009, she released a free stand-up special online as a gift to her fans.

While working in voice-over shows and advertisements in Los Angeles, she was hospitalized three times over the course of 18 months for nervous breakdowns. She commented on the hospital visits by saying "it was the responsible thing to do" after she felt "suicidal" and "dispirited".[3]

In 2012 she released The Special Special Special for download through The special was recorded at her own home in Los Angeles with only her parents present as the audience.[5][3]

In 2013, she created and starred in a web series called Ask My Mom. She plays both herself and her mother, who answers questions sent in by fans.[6] Also in 2013, she appeared as herself in one episode of the interview web series All Growz Up with Melinda Hill.[7] She voiced Pema in Nickelodeon cartoon The Legend of Korra.

In 2013, she appeared in season four of Arrested Development as Debrie Bardeaux, Tobias Fünke's love interest.[8] The series creator noted her as a comical "genius" and said that "real artists [like Maria] talk about things that nobody else talks about, and talk about them candidly."[3] She remained on the series until it concluded in 2019.

Lady Dynamite and critical acclaim: 2014–present[edit]

She appeared in Season 3 of Louis C.K.'s Louie.[9] In 2014, she co-created, wrote, and starred in The Program with Melinda Hill, produced by Funny or Die.[10][11] In 2014, she won the American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic.[2] In January 2016, she was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where host Stephen Colbert called her his "favorite comedian on planet Earth".[12]

In early 2016, Netflix announced an original series based on her life,called Lady Dynamite, starring her,[13][14] released in May 2016. She was invited to the writing process. She did not write any episodes, but was often in the writers' room, discussing ideas and "hanging out". The writers had freedom to modify her experiences for creative purposes.[15]

In May 2017, she was the commencement speaker for the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts.[16] During the speech, she gave a check made out to Sallie Mae for $5,000, her net speaking fee, to a graduate in the audience who had student loans.[17]

In April 2018, she appeared on season 13 of Worst Cooks in America.[18] She was eliminated in the fourth episode.

On September 5, 2023, her book, Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere, was released from Gallery Books.[19] On September 24, 2023, the book entered the New York Times Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction best seller list at #11.[20]

Comedy style[edit]

Maria Bamford is the most unique, bizarre, imaginative comedian out there right now.

Judd Apatow, [3]

Bamford's unique comedic style has drawn praise from many in the comedy world. She is best known for her portrayal of her dysfunctional family and self-deprecating comedy involving jokes about depression and anxiety.[3] Her comedy style is surreal and incorporates voice impressions of various character types. Zach Freeman of the Chicago Tribune has noted her content and comedic style as "comically erratic" with "seemingly unrelated tangents and constantly varying vocal inflections".[21] David Sims of The Atlantic noted her roles and voice work as having themes of "serial passivity" stemming from her "polite upbringing and own internal anxieties".[22] Film producer Judd Apatow has described her comedic style as "complex" and "bizarre", later calling her "the funniest woman in the world".[3][23] Variety described Bamford's performance in Lady Dynamite, saying that "the actress and comedian, whose presence has rarely been used as well as it is here, manages the neat trick of being both believably guileless and winningly sharp."[24] A 2014 New York Times profile of Bamford noted her comedic style by saying:

Much of Bamford's work examines the relationship between "people" — generally well-intentioned friends and family — and those who grapple with depression or anxiety or any other challenge to the psyche. Her act is a series of monologues and mini skits performed rapid fire and often without regard for transition. Deploying a range of deadpan voices, she mimics the faux enlightened who hover around the afflicted, offering toothless platitudes, bootstrapping pep talks, or concern warped by self-interest. The humor of any given moment relies not so much on punch lines as it does on the impeccably timed swerves of her tone, the interplay between Bamford's persona and those of all the people who don't get her.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Bamford stated in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that she has been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder,[25] and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).[22] In stand-up, she describes bipolar as "the new gladiator sandal".[3]

On December 11, 2014, during her show at the Neptune Theater in Seattle, she announced that she was engaged to artist Scott Marvel Cassidy.[26] They were married at a private ceremony in 2015.[27][28][29] She has one sister, Sarah Seidelmann, who is a MD physician, life coach and Shamanic healer.[30] She has a private residence in Los Angeles, California,[3] and a home in Altadena, California. She loves pugs, and typically owns at least one senior pug at any given time.[31]



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Denial Newscaster
2000 Lucky Numbers Wendy
2002 Stuart Little 2 Teacher
2003 Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure Aranea / Button / additional voices Voice
2005 The Comedians of Comedy Herself
2006 Barnyard Mrs. Beady Voice
2007 Heckler Herself
2011 Doraemon: Nobita and the New Steel Troops—Winged Angels Riruru
2014 Muffin Top: A Love Story Angelique
2015 Hell and Back Gloria Voice
2018 An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn Elegant Woman
2018 Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss Cultist
2021 Extinct Bo's Mom Voice
2022 The Bubble Carol's Mom
2022 The People's Joker Lorne Michaels Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Mystery Science Theater 3000 Fiddler Episode: "Bloodlust!"
1998 The Tom Show Christy Episode: "The Band"
1998–1999 Hey Arnold! Mayor Dixie / various Voice, 3 episodes
1998–2005 CatDog Shriek DuBois Voice, 58 episodes
1999 Dharma & Greg Sandy Episode: "Death & Violins"
1999–2004 Home Movies Additional voices 3 episodes
2000 Men in Black: The Series Voice, episode: "The Back to School Syndrome"
2000–2001 The Trouble with Normal Dora 2 episodes
2001 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Herself 2 episodes
2001–2002 Late Friday Herself 2 episodes
2001–2007 Comedy Central Presents Herself 2 episodes; also writer
2002 Comic Remix Herself
2002 Premium Blend Herself 1 episode
2003 Hey Monie! Sex Education Teacher Voice, episode: "For Pet's Sake"
2003 The World Comedy Tour: Melbourne 2003 Herself TV special
2004–2016 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Herself 2 episodes
2005 Tom Goes to the Mayor Home Shopping Woman / Sandy Voice, episode: "Porcelain Birds"
2005 Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island Melody / The Waiting Lady Voice, 2 episodes
2005 Rove Live Herself Episode: "#6.7"
2005–2015 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Herself 4 episodes
2006 Shorty McShorts' Shorts Additional voices 3 episodes
2007 American Dad! Randy's Mother Voice, episode: "The 42-Year-Old Virgin"
2007–2008 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Various 3 episodes
2007–2011 Back at the Barnyard Mrs. Beady Voice, 30 episodes
2007–2015 WordGirl Violet / Sally Botsford Voice, 87 episodes
2009 Sit Down, Shut Up Various voices 9 episodes
2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Mae Kadoodie Episode: "Nightmayor"
2010 Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule Cynthia Driscoll Episode: "Health"
2010 Ugly Americans Various voices 3 episodes
2010 The Cartoonstitute Captain, Zack 2 episodes
2010–2011 John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show Herself 3 episodes
2010–2012 Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil "Wacky" Jackie Wackerman Voice, 7 episodes
2010–2018 Adventure Time Various voices 69 episodes
2011 Nick Swardson's Pretend Time Linda Martin Episode: "Flying Stripper"
2011 Conan Herself Episode: "Happy One Year Anniversary to Us, and to Lisa and Greg Drucker of Wayne, New Jersey"
2011 Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight Herself Episode: "#1.8"
2011–2016 Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness Chen Voice, 8 episodes
2012 Louie Maria 2 episodes
2012 Unsupervised Various voices 7 episodes
2012–2014 The Legend of Korra Pema Voice, 19 episodes
2013 Kroll Show Denise Ryan 2 episodes
2013 Tales of Metropolis Lois Lane Voice, 2 episodes
2013 The Nerdist Herself Episode: "Space!"
2013–2015 Golan the Insatiable Carole Beekler Voice, 12 episodes
2013–2019 Arrested Development Debrie Bardeaux 15 episodes
2014 Chozen Voice, episode: "Pilot"
2014 The Program Peace 2 episodes; also writer and executive producer
2014 Benched Cheryl 8 episodes
2014 Mixels Scorpi Voice
2014–2016 TripTank Various voices 6 episodes
2014–2017 @midnight Herself 4 episodes
2014–2019 BoJack Horseman Kelsey Jannings / various Voice, 9 episodes
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Claire Coulter Episode: "Maya Rudolph Wears a Black Skirt & Strappy Sandals"
2015 Clarence Dillis Voice, episode: "Hurricane Dillis"
2015 Maron Herself Episode: "Mad Marc"
2015 Axe Cop Various voices 3 episodes
2015 Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell The Thin Twins Voice, episode: "Psyklone and the Thin Twins"
2015 Pickle and Peanut Kandy Voice, episode: "PAL-SCAN/America's Sweetboy"
2015–2016 Fresh Off the Boat Principal Thomas 4 episodes
2015–2017 Pig Goat Banana Cricket Various voices 4 episodes
2015–2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Various voices 12 episodes
2015–2018 The Adventures of Puss in Boots The Duchess Voice, 12 episodes
2016 Take My Wife Maria Episode: "Punchline"
2016 Flophouse Herself Episode: "Haircuts at Babe Island"
2016 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Herself Episode: "Scott Kelly/Abby Wambach/Maria Bamford"
2016–2017 Lady Dynamite Maria Bamford 20 episodes; also executive producer
2016–2019 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Various voices 3 episodes
2017 Portlandia Humane Society Volunteer Episode: "Misunderstood Miracles"
2017 We Bare Bears Miss Chriss Voice, episode: "Panda's Art"
2017 Ginger Snaps Vivian Voice, 10 episodes
2017 Downward Dog Pepper Voice, 4 episodes
2017 Mighty Magiswords Tara Byte 11.0 Voice, episode: "The Saga of Robopiggeh!"
2017 Bob's Burgers Kendra / Catherine Voice, episode: "Sit Me Baby One More Time"
2017 Harvey Beaks Grada Voice, episode: "The End and the Beginning"
2018 Liverspots and Astronots Various voices 4 episodes
2018 Stan Against Evil Nurse Pickles Episode: "Intensive Scare Unit"
2018 The Shivering Truth Lover / Elderly Woman Voice, episode: "Tow and Shell"
2018 Worst Cooks in America Herself 4 episodes
2018 Dream Corp LLC Norf Norf 2 episodes
2019 SuperMansion Teach Voice, episode: "Teacher and the Goof"
2019 Victor and Valentino Guandelupe Voice, episode: "Los Cadejos"
2019 SpongeBob SquarePants Macadamia / Hazelnut / Pistachio Voice, episode: "Sandy's Nutty Nieces"
2019 Ask the StoryBots Dr. Pat the Mad Scientist Voice, episode: "How Do Eyes See?"
2019–2020 The Rocketeer Laura Voice, 6 episodes
2019–2020 Tigtone Spaceress Voice, 3 episodes
2020 The Midnight Gospel Various voices 2 episodes
2020 Butterbean's Café Queen Batilda Voice, episode: "The Legend of the Shadow Bean"
2020–2021 Adventure Time: Distant Lands Various voices 2 episodes
2020–2021 Animaniacs Julia / Tammy Voice, 3 episodes
2020–present Big Mouth Tito the Anxiety Mosquito Voice, recurring role
2021 Everything's Gonna Be Okay Suze 4 episodes
2021 Kenan Glory Episode: "Wednesday's Gal"
2021 Flatbush Misdemeanors Maria Episode: "retrograde"
2021 Tuca & Bertie Patricia Ramsey Voice, 3 episodes
2021 I Heart Arlo Various voices 8 episodes
2021 Summer Camp Island The Royal Mush / Foghorn / Polly / Sandy Voice, 6 episodes
2021 Santa Inc. Mrs. Claus / Big Candy Voice, 8 episodes
2021 Centaurworld Malangella / Maitre D / Opposumtaur Voice, 3 episodes
2021–present HouseBroken Jill / Big Cookie Voice, recurring role
2021–present Teenage Euthanasia Trophy Fantasy Voice, main role
2022 Mr. Mayor Leaf Episode: "The Illusion of Choice"
2022 Wolfboy and the Everything Factory Sky Ancient Episode: "We Search Above"
2022–2023 Human Resources Tito the Anxiety Mosquito Voice
2023 Rick and Morty Churry Voice, episode: "Rickfending Your Mort"

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 The Maria Bamford Show Herself, her mother, her father, her sister, others
2012 SuperF*ckers Princess Sunshine, Computer Fist Voice
2012–2018 Bravest Warriors Pixel, Gayle, Elves, others Voice
2013 Ask My Mom Herself, her mother Marilyn Bamford
2014–present Talking Tom and Friends Talking Ginger, Talking Becca, Flo, Autumn Summers (Season 3), Pilar
2017 Ave Maria Bamford Herself[32] Also writer
2019–present What's Your Ailment?! Herself[33] Also executive producer


  • The Burning Bridges Tour (2003) [CD]
  • How to WIN! (2007) [CD]
  • Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome (2009) [CD]
  • Plan B (2010) [DVD]
  • The Special Special Special! (2012) [video download]
  • Ask Me About My New God! (2013) [CD]
  • 20% (2016) [CD]
  • Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017) [Netflix]
  • Weakness Is the Brand (2020) [album/video]
  • CROWD-PLEASER! (2023) [album]


  • Sure, I'll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere (2023)


  • Bonanas for Bonanza (2020)
  • Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend (2023)
  • Planet Money - Maria Bamford gets personal (about) finance' ' (Oct 13, 2023)


  1. ^ Champion, Jared N.; Kunze, Peter C., eds. (2021). Taking a Stand: Contemporary US Stand-Up Comedians as Public Intellectuals. Jackson, MS: The University of Mississippi Press. p. 42. ISBN 9781496835499.
  2. ^ a b Steiner, Amanda Michelle (May 8, 2014). "American Comedy Awards Winners List: Bill Hader, Amy Poehler & More". Hollywood Life. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Corbett, Sara (July 17, 2014). "The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford". The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Keller, Joel (November 24, 2009). "Maria Bamford plays a demented shopper in new Target ads". TVSquad. AOL Television. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
  5. ^ "Maria Bamford: the special special special!". Chill. November 29, 2012. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Haglund, David (June 6, 2013). "Maria Bamford on Arrested Development and Her New Web Series, Ask My Mom!". San Francisco, California: The Slate Group. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Balthazar, Brian (September 25, 2013). ""All Growz Up" Talks To Maria Bamford In A Back Alley". Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  8. ^ Onion, Rebecca (30 May 2013). "Tobias gets served". Slate. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  9. ^ Bamford, Maria (July 20, 2012). "What it's like to work with Louis C. K." San Francisco, California: The Slate Group. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "Maria Bamford, Melinda Hill's Funny Or Die series The Program features Jerry Minor, Oscar Nunez and more as Debtors Anonymous members (Videos)". LAUGHSPIN. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  11. ^ "The Program Part 1: Visions". Funny or Die. July 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  12. ^ McCarthy, Sean L. (January 16, 2016). "Maria Bamford on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". The Comics Comic. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "Maria Bamford's Lady Dynamite comedy series is heading to Netflix". Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation. June 19, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "Maria Bamford Announces 'Lady Dynamite' Premiere Date – With A Little Help". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. February 23, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Fox, Jesse David (May 20, 2016). "Maria Bamford Walks You Through Lady Dynamite". New York City: New York Media. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  16. ^ Jacoby Zoldan, Rachel (May 19, 2017). "This Graduation Speaker Made Her Entire Commencement Speech About Her Fee". Teen Vogue. Condé Nast. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  17. ^ Mullen, Mike (May 14, 2017). "Maria Bamford gives U of M theater arts grad $5,000 to pay down student loans". citypages. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  18. ^ "A Fresh Batch of Cooking-Challenged Celebrities Enter Boot Camp". Food Network.
  19. ^ Reed, Conner (May 26, 2023). "Fall 2023 Adult Announcements: Memoirs & Biographies". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  20. ^ "Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction". The New York Times. September 24, 2023. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  21. ^ Freeeman, Zach (August 20, 2016). "Maria Bamford on edge and on point at the Athenaeum Theatre". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois: Tronc. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Sims, David (May 20, 2016). "Maria Bamford's 'Lady Dynamite' Is a Weird, Sweet Comedy". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  23. ^ Hill, Libby (February 24, 2016). "'Who is Maria Bamford?' Judd Apatow and others try to explain". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  24. ^ Ryan, Maureen (May 17, 2016). "TV Review: 'Lady Dynamite'". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  25. ^ Burger, David (June 22, 2011). "Comic Maria Bamford will cross personal boundaries at Utah show". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Laker City, Utah: Huntsman Family Investments, LLC. I was re-diagnosed (after a three-day stay at the hospital) as Bipolar II
  26. ^ Burch, Cathalena (September 4, 2014). "Comic takes on politics, understanding conservatives and suicide". Arizona Daily Star. Tucson, Arizona: Lee Enterprises. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  27. ^ "This couple chose a funky costume to dance at their wedding".
  28. ^ "Maria Bamford Got Married Dressed As A Hotdog And It Was Amazing".
  29. ^ "Had a wonderful time with Mary Kay Place (playing my mom), Ed Begley, Jr. (as my dad), Mo Collins (as best friend) shooting the final scenes of Netflix series Lady Dynamite in Minnesota. The show should be out in April. The Minnesota-based crew was awesome. My Mom is very frustrated with my lack of social media posting and so, may be taking over this position. She wants to post "as Maria"- so if I start to sound upbeat and schilling Eileen Fisher fashions, trip advisor hotel reviews in Italy- know that it is not me- it is "Maria". This is a picture on my Mom's computer from my wedding of myself and my sister Sarah. Expect more of this type of thing in the future. I have abnegated all upon giving her my Facebook password. Enjoy".
  30. ^ Burch, Cathalena. "The half-soft, half-sharp comedy of Maria Bamford and 'Lady Dynamite'". Daily Dotdate=May 19, 2016. Retrieved Apr 22, 2023.
  31. ^ "Episode 21: Maria Bamford and Grant Imahara". Go Fact Yourself (Podcast). MaximumFun. October 5, 2018. Event occurs at 24:30. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  32. ^ "Ave Maria Bamford - Topic". December 21, 2017. Archived from the original on December 21, 2017. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  33. ^ "What's Your Ailment? | Topic". January 28, 2020. Archived from the original on January 28, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]