Maria Bamford: Humorous Mental Health Advocate

Time flies when you’re anxious! Maria Bamford

According to increasingly popular comic Maria Bamford‘s 2009 CD entitled Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome, she has suffered from this type of OCD since early childhood. As she has described this condition in an interview, first there’s a bothersome intrusive thought, such as Oh my God, my dog looks sexy, then she has to look for the meaning behind having that thought, and then she feels compelled to get rid of that thought.

Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome apparently uses some of the material from her prior semi-autobiographical web series The Maria Bamford Show, about her suffering an emotional breakdown on stage in Los Angeles and going back to Minnesota to live with her parents. She played all the roles—family members, coworkers, old acquaintances from high school. Click on YouTube for some of the video clips.

In an interview for Slate, Bamford shared some interesting observations about people not understanding mental illness:

…I have a joke about how people don’t talk about mental illness the way they do other regular illnesses. ‘Well, apparently Jeff has cancer. Uh, I have cancer. We all have cancer. You go to chemotherapy you get it taken care of, am I right? You get back to work.’ Or: ‘I was dating this chick, and three months in, she tells me that she wears glasses, and she’s been wearing contact lenses all this time. She needs help seeing. I was like, listen, I’m not into all that Western medicine shit. If you want to see, then work at it. Figure out how not to be so myopic. You know?’

Today her new CD/DVD Ask Me About My New God! is being released. The CD is mostly material from Maria Bamford: the special special special!, her highly rated 2012 show, the one in which she directed a routine to an audience of two, her parents, who were seated in her apartment. 

Although Erika Star, The Laugh Button, misses actually seeing Bamford doing her “socially aware, self-deprecating humor,” she has high praise for the new CD. One excerpt from her review:

It’s hard to write a review of Bamford’s work that doesn’t include her effortless ability to create visual characters merely with voices and the brilliant ways in which she engages the stigma of mental illness, and ‘New God,’ is no exception. Her hilariously on-point voices, even of the most mundane archetypes, seem to be organic extensions of herself while allowing us a front-row seat into her creative genius. Anyone else delivering the line ‘Suicide, Anyone?’ would be faced with some gasps and groans, but Bamford owns the topic with such strength and knowledge and manages to tell people, ‘it’s ok’ or ‘it gets better’ with sarcastic, but genuine, sentiment.

Want to see or hear more of Maria Bamford? Check out different parts of her website, or consider finding her on tour, or take in her web series Ask My Mom, in which she plays the “mom” who’s a “retired family therapist” doling out advice. Below is a clip:

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