15 Maria Bamford Jokes (and Moments) for the Hall of Fame

15 Maria Bamford Jokes (and Moments) for the Hall of Fame

It’s difficult to accurately describe Maria Bamford’s style of comedy. Self-deprecating yet affirming. Surreal but relatable. Complete with songs, sound effects and mini one-act plays throughout. Every one of her performances feels like you’re channel-surfing inside her brain, and she has the remote. Needless to say, it’s never boring and always remarkably smart. 

And so, to properly honor Bamford, we are inducting 15 of her jokes — along with a few select moments from her career — into the Hall of Fame. Away we go…

On Depression

“A lot of Americans are suffering from depression younger and younger — our children are seeing the sippy cup as half-empty. When I was a kid, I never really thought of myself as depressed as much as paralyzed by hope.”

Comedians of Comedy

This 2005 documentary, along with the follow-up Comedy Central series and Live at the Troubadour DVD release, follows four then-still-kinda-unknown comics (Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis and Brian Posehn) as they tour the country. It’s a beautiful time capsule of their careers before they really hit it big.

On Office Drama

“I love the drama of the office: ‘Don’t touch Donna’s label-maker.’


“‘Don’t, don’t even, don’t. Don’t even look at it.’

“‘Why? Because she bought it with her own money.’

“‘Enough said, sister. Why don’t you tell Donna to keep her mitts off my freakin’ tape dispenser? She knows it’s mine ‘cause it’s clearly labeled with my name— Oh…’”

On Her Late Mother

“My mom, so positive: ‘You know, the great thing about the past couple years is this is the first time in my life I’ve been below goal weight on Weight Watchers. So my membership has been gratis.’

“‘Mom, you do know that even if a coffin is tight around the hips, eventually it fits.’ But the joke’s on me because she got herself cremated, and now she’s just a pound!”

On Being ‘Rich’

“I’m not technically rich, but I do have a lot of shit that I don’t need, and I refuse to share with others.”

On Her Sister

“My sister is a pathologist, though I like to introduce her as, ‘This is my sister Sarah, she cuts up the dead into chunks.’ She is always telling me about different diseases she thinks I might have: ‘You have that one dark curly hair that comes out of your neck. You’ve seen it, right? And your breasts are really small. It’s called ptosis; it’s a syndrome. You gotta get your hormones checked, or you’re gonna wake up and be covered in fur like a werewolf.’

“‘Shut up Sarah.’

“‘Oh you shut up, werewolf.’”

Lady Dynamite

Bamford’s semi-autobiographical Netflix series was canceled after two seasons, which remains one of the more baffling programming decisions the streaming service has made. It was centered around a largely fictionalized version of Bamford’s life and career, with much of the first season focusing on her trying to get her comedy and acting career back on track after spending months in recovery for bipolar disorder. The show does a great job of simultaneously making mental illness funny and never taking itself too seriously. The opening scene of the first episode will give you a taste of what we’re talking about:

On Her Own Mental Health Struggles

On Religion

“I don’t know if I believe in God because I don’t like the idea of some Touched by an Angel angels sitting up there making decisions like, ‘I’m gonna put you in a paralyzing diving accident so you can inspire people with watercolors you paint with your feet. I’m gonna kill your mother so that you’re more friendly at work. I’m going to put you through a really crappy childhood so then when you’re 42, and you’ve been through drug and alcohol rehab, you can give strength and hope to someone else who’s been through a really crappy childhood that I put them in, because I am the Lord!”

On Cooking

“Everybody says how easy it is to cook, but it isn’t any easier than not cooking. They’re like, ‘Just get a really good virgin olive oil…’

“‘Girl Scout cookie wrapped in meat!’

“‘No, just slice up a couple of vegetables…’

“‘Squeeze-y cheese on finger, can of wine!’ 

“‘No, just preheat the oven—’

“‘Ah! Hot power bar from glove compartment! Fresh from the oven!’”

On Her Family

“My family plays this game around the holidays that we call it Joy Whac-A-Mole. What happens is somebody brings up something that they’re really happy about, and the other person tries to slam it down. Lots of fun! I was playing with my dad, and I said, ‘Dad, check out this new jacket.’

“‘Oh, very nice.’

“‘Yeah, guess how much.’

“‘I don’t know — $50?’ 

“‘No, $10! How do they do it?’

“‘We were reading about that. Slavery! Yeah, they don’t pay them, then they pass the savings on to you!”

On Success

“My therapist says I’m afraid of success. I guess I could understand that, because after all, fulfilling my potential would really cut into my sitting-around time.”

On Marriage

“I do wanna get married. It just sounds great. You get to go grocery shopping together, rent videos, and the kissing and the hugging and the kissing and the hugging under the cozy covers. Mmmm! But sometimes I worry that I don’t wanna get married as much as I want to get dipped in a vat of warm, rising bread dough. That might feel pretty good, too.”

On Keeping Things in Perspective

“If you ever start thinking, ‘Oh, but I’m a waste of space. I’m a burden,’ remember that also describes the Grand Canyon. 

“‘Oh, oh, but I owe people a lot of money and everybody hates me…’ Hello, Europe! 

“‘Oh, oh, but I’ve done some other horrible, unspeakable, unforgivable things.’ Google it! Somebody has done exactly what you have done — or worse — and has gotten past it and is currently on a book tour. You’re never alone!"

On Her Advice for the Next Generation

“I got an offer to do a commencement speech at the University of Minnesota, from wherein I got my degree in creative writing. I said to them, ‘That’s a terrible idea, but that is on you. I love money!’ I thought about it, though, and you know what? I do have some advice to give: ‘Okay, class of whatever year this is, don’t move to Los Angeles with the promise of a touring Star Trek show, hook up on a one-night stand with a Vulcan and he gives you an STD that you let go for so long that when you finally go to the Planned Parenthood in Hollywood, California, the doctor says, ‘Why did you let this get so bad?’ Don’t do that. 

“Don’t send in your 1040 IRS forms with, ‘Sorry, don’t get it! Smiley face, exclamation point!’ Don’t move into an apartment where the landlord allegedly accepts sex for rent, and then not have money for rent! Turns out he wasn’t interested — I just had to move out!’”

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