Many people first experienced Maria Bamford through her fantastic Netflix series Lady Dynamite. It earned high marks from critics and audiences alike, earning the show a second season order from the streaming giant. Though currently in production, fans still don’t know when new episodes will be available to stream, so they’ll just have to stick to re-watching the first season. That, or checking out Bamford’s new stand-up special Old Baby, which premieres today.
Many will recognize the comic’s signature, seemingly stream-of-consciousness style from the scripted series. Yet Old Baby owes its existence less to Lady Dynamite and more to previous stand-up specials like The Special Special Special! Released in 2012, the latter offers viewers an interesting counterpoint to the Bamford’s latest, as it consists of a private performance for her parents. Five years later, Old Baby travels between six different venues — including a hot-dog stand, a bowling alley and a book store — and throws a few sketches in for good measure.
Bamford spoke about the five years that passed between her two specials, why she takes so long to write her material, and more during a recent conversation with Uproxx. She even shared a joke-in-progress with us that was inspired by, among other things, a brief discussion of comedy and religion’s shared traits. Though before we get to that, we must start with Bamford’s sidekick in Old Baby.
Does your stage pug in Old Baby have a name?
Yes, it’s Arnold. Arnold the Pug. Arnold has passed now, so it is more powerful to have him there with me as a reminder. My husband made the sculpture of Arnold, and he became a kind of talisman for me.
My condolences. I was curious because my dog couldn’t take her eyes off Arnold while I was watching the screener. She was captivated by him.
Oh my God, that’s wonderful! Of course she was. Arnold was such a wonderful dog. I mean, he was just a wonderful dog. I’m so glad that your dog saw that element in him, and was able to appreciate his greatness.
Old Baby takes place in at least six different locations. How’d that idea come about?
Well, that was the director, Jessica Yu, who helped pick the locations, shoot them and edit everything together. My usual pattern in creative projects seems to be just letting somebody else do things like that. I am there for the taping, and I’m grateful someone else is willing to look at the footage and cut it together. That was all Jessica’s work, and I think she did a wonderful job.
You worked with her on Lady Dynamite, right?
Yes, she was a director on Lady Dynamite. Jessica is also an old friend of my husband’s. They worked on a film together, so that’s how I got to know her. She’s just a really spectacular human being and artist. She was a really great director on the TV show, and here on the special. Jessica is very easy to work with. Basically she laughed at my jokes, is what I’m trying to say. She laughs at my jokes. That’s the best.