Interview – Maria Bamford
– by Shawn Conner
After the pleasure of seeing Maria Bamford twice at the Vancouver Global ComedyFest a couple weekends back, I decided to dig up an interview I did with the comedian last summer (June 2008). It’s not as relevant now – she was single at the time, and now she’s got a boyfriend – so her thoughts on dating should be read with that in mind…
Shawn Conner: How much of The Maria Bamford Show [a series of five-minute videos for Superdeluxe.com in which Bamford played herself and all the members of her family] is true?
Maria Bamford: Well, none of itís true. I havenít moved home with my family. Itís my greatest fear that I would have to move home with my parents so I thought Iíd do a show about that. A lot of the issues are true, though. I have had a lot of depression. And the OCD issues are true, the dynamics and the family type stuff are true.
SC: Youíre a comedian in real life. Who are you on a date?
MB: Thereís an element of performance to what I do that takes away from the vulnerability/intimacy factor. Meeting someone, I want to be real with that person. Iím also a very sincere, serious person when Iím not joking. Not that Iím wearing a snood. I went on an Internet date a couple of weeks ago and I asked him about himself, and then he asked me about me and myself, and I said I was going to New York on the weekend. And then he says, ďOh, so youíre a big deal,Ē and then I think he thinks I think Iím a big deal, and then Iím thinking ďrevamp, revamp, revamp.Ē
SC: I would think working in the entertainment field youíd meet lots of guys.
MB: Thatís what I would think too. I havenít had many people ask me out. I get a lot of email solicitations, and I tell them come talk to me, Iím always at the shows on Monday [at the time of this interview at least, Maria was co-hosting “Whatís Up Tiger Lily?” at the Cuba Libra Bar in L.A.]. But they live in other countries, or they live in Alaska and theyíre in their late 60s. Iíd rather go on a dating site – then I know theyíre looking for the same things I am – rather than meet someone at a bar, where maybe theyíre interested in something else. I dated a guy I met online for six months. He was a great guy and we were looking for the same thing. It didnít work out for other reasons. Iím totally into self-help and love talking about psychology, and thatís a giant thing for me. I think when I talked about it all he heard was [makes a high-pitched, keening sound]. I felt bad for him.
SC: What is your screening process?
MB: Itís based on what they write though it doesnít necessarily have to be funny. I have friends who are really funny in person but might not be good at expressing it. Iím much more conscious of using a funny word ícos I know that ďbananaĒ works. Right now, itís someone who likes talking about God, who is interested in spirituality, and meditation [pronounces it ďmed-I-tay-she-oĒ] and using Spanglish to pronounce words like that. And someone whoís a goofball, but you canít always tell.
SC: Are you getting good at weeding out people you wonít have anything to talk about with?
MB: I think so. Sometimes I screen people who arenít very good at talking on the phone because I travel a lot and I like talking on the phone. Iím still single at 37, but I have been trying. I met this guy, I donít know, he had done a lot of talking on the phone, and he did all these impersonations of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I donít know if he was disgusted or just nervous, but when we met he couldnít make eye contact. I felt like, ďIím a big hosebeast.Ē
SC: In one of the episodes of The Maria Bamford Show, youíre ecstatic when you meet a guy you think will be your boyfriend so you can stop dating.
MB: Itís so awesome when youíve decided youíre going to be steady buddies. Then itís just like, oh we can make some plans, we can go on trips. You have a date to go places. I know I have friends, so I can do that with my friends. But itís fun and a relief. But I think part of that, that guy Todd, he said nothing, he didnít talk at all. Then you can put whatever fantasies you want on them, or whatever you think their thoughts are. And so, ďOh, heís an amazing thoughtful person.Ē Maybe the reason he doesnít talk very much is he doesnít have very much to say. Or heís not thinking about much.
In any relationship, Iíve found itís important to really listen to what the person says about themselves. The last guy I went out with, on the sixth date, he was uncomfortable with something I was wearing. It was at an event and he didnít like the colour. It was hot pink. And I felt terrible. At that point I shouldíve said, ďYou know, thatís totally not going to work because thatís just not my thing where what youíre wearing is important.Ē And that was important in his life – it was almost like a spiritual thing. Like he had lots of wonderful socks, which he matched with his clothes. I love that. And he wasnít good at expressing it: ďYouíre wearing a pink dress and Iím scared.Ē It was like he was mad.
So Iíve just got to trust my own instincts. And then the last guy I dated said, ďOh this is a really a bad time for me to have a relationship.Ē And that was so true! I didnít learn the details of it until a year in. He had had some bisexual experiences that he told me about later. And it was like, Oh my God, it is a bad time. He was responsible for going forward too, but you have to listen when someone says something. Theyíre saying it for a reason. Those are two of my lessons. But there are many relationships to come, Shawn.
SC: Do you have any guys on the line now?
MB: Nobody. But Iím on [names a popular online dating site]. And if anybody lives in the Los Angeles area and is an appropriate age range, within five yearsĖwell, I guess eight years older and five years younger. I donít know, Iíve never dated anyone younger than me. I just think too far one way or the other, and itís different what youíre ready for and what youíre interested in. I donít know. When I was 32Ö I still wanted to par-tay.
I donít know if there is a God, but I just think thereís gotta be somebody within five miles of where I live. It canít be a guy in Bangladesh.