Maria Bamford, one of the best working stand-up comics and star of the excellent Lady Dynamite, has always found humor in misery. Her material, whether focused on the trials of her personal or professional life (often, a combination of both), makes even the darkest subjects something to laugh about.
In a new web series running as part of Topic’s sixth issue, Bamford continues mining this rich, miles-deep and exceptionally gloomy vein. Through the three episodes of Ave Maria Bamford released so far, the comedian, dressed in shiny papal robes, explores the hidden joys of some of life’s most depressing realities. For example, mental illness: “People aren’t crazy about it, but for me it’s been kind of a cash cow.” Or climate change: “Nihilism is a great way to energize you to do something you never would’ve thought of before ... like frack!.”And why not look at what’s good about the breakdown of our social and government institutions: “When you realize there’s nothing out there, you finally look at the crumbling infrastructure within you and see that the system that failed you has always been inside you.”
Future episodes of the series look to address even more cheerful topics, discussing “the silver linings within everything from substance abuse to bankruptcy and existential despair.”
The videos are a great use of Bamford’s talent for laughing through truly miserable experiences, as energetic and lightly surreal as her best work. Their subject matter, grim as it may be, also makes for a pretty perfect cap to a year full of events and trends that haven’t always inspired a whole lot of optimism—the kind of gift, basically, the world deserves right now.
The first three episodes of Ave Maria Bamford are available now, with the rest to follow throughout December.