In her sublime new Netflix standup special, Old Baby, premiering on May 2nd, Maria Bamford performs a comedy set in increasingly larger venues. What begins as a few jokes in front of a mirror, progresses to a living room, onto a bowling alley, and so on, until she goes out with a bang on a big stage. The special is sparkling, her jokes are original, and her audience grows more hysterical with laughter as the size of the performance venue expands and shrinks. She is truly magnificent.
Maria Bamford is my favorite comedian. I admire everything she stands for as a comic and as a human being, and told her so in stream of barely intelligible gushing at the beginning of our interview. I rarely find myself star struck these days, but Bamford is special. Her comedy has served as somewhat of a lifeline to me during particularly dark times, and I was determined to repay her with a good interview. My enthusiasm was profuse and unsettling, but she accepted it with grace. Stephen Colbert may have proclaimed her to be his favorite comedian on planet earth, but she is my favorite comedian in the history of the universe and I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and adoration.
I asked Bamford several relevant questions about her comedy special, but then, throwing caution to the wind, I dove in with the 36 questions. If you’re not familiar, the 36 questions refer to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. I had recently read Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” and thought if there was ever a moment to accelerate intimacy, this interview was it. I asked Bamford if she’d heard of the 36 questions. She had. With genuine excitement she exclaimed, “let’s fall in love!” And we did. Or at least I did. Again.
“In the aftermath of World War II, the USSR and the USA became locked in an ideological conflict between socialism and capitalism. Determined to demonstrate the superiority of the socialist way, the USSR launched a secret space program. Eventually a human cosmonaut would fly into outer space, but first came Laika—a dog.
Laika’s launch was kept a secret until a few days before take-off. As Russian feminist art historian Olesya Turkina explains in her book, Soviet Space Dogs, “the secrecy of the space program was justified by the notion that socialism could not be seen to fail in any of its endeavors. In this sense, space travel was the most imperative achievement of such a society.” According to the official Soviet story, the valiant little mutt launched into orbit, died a heroic death, and became the first icon of space exploration.”
Thank you to Olesya and Damon for taking the time to answer my questions and for creating such a special book. Check out FUEL Publishing’s “Soviet Space Dogs” by Olesya Turkina, published by Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell.
“Your dog has always been your rock. Your light in the dark. Your Snickerbottom. Pumpkinbooger. Snugglebear. But what if you’ve been wrong all this time? What if your Honey-munchkin has been playing you for a fool while sleeping in someone else’s dog bed? Eating someone else’s treats? Dare we imagine Piggle-wiggle barking in someone else’s face and urinating on someone else’s floor? What if the dog you’ve cuddled with and cleaned up after all these years isn’t the Jellymuppet you thought he/she was? If you’ve ever suspected that your dog was offering tongue baths and meaningful eye contact elsewhere, read on for signs your dog has a secret second family.”
Such a fun one for BarkPost. Read the rest here!
“The holidays can be a hard time. Pressure is on, money is tight, relatives are…alive. At least you can always count on your trusty pup to be on your side when the going gets tough. Or can you? If the rest of your family is dysfunctional, why wouldn’t your dog be too? After all, you raised him to be the little fur ball he is today. And now you get hit with the therapy bills. Look, not everybody can be the dog whisperer, okay? We all make mistakes. If your family is straight out of Jonathan Franzen novel, here are 10 ways your doggie will destroy Thanksgiving.”
I may be more proud of this listicle than anything I’ve ever done in life.