Maria Bamford and the Lessons of Dark Comedy

All comedy is supposed to make us laugh. However, some comedians have dark comedy that doesn’t just make us laugh — it makes us question why we’re laughing in the first place!

A good comedian is basically a modern-day philosopher. This is why comedian Michelle Wolf made such a splash when she spoke at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Her comedy was funny, but it also forced people to perform some introspection about their beliefs and habits.

Another great comedian in this vein is Maria Bamford. She is known for very dark (sometimes bordering on morbid) humor. At the same time, her hilarious jokes are also your key to becoming a better leader, creator and entrepreneur.

Don’t believe us? Keep reading to discover some slices of Bamford’s crazy comedy and what it teaches us about becoming more successful in our daily struggles.

Life at the office

“Sometimes I get kind of a bad attitude at work; stop being a team player. I remember one day I was sitting in the employee kitchen drinking nondairy creamer, and a girlfriend came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Maria, I’ve been taking this class that’s really changed my life. Would you like to come? It’s at the Doubletree Santa Monica. There’s no obligation and it’s free.’ Sure, I’ll join your cult.”

Here, Bamford describes that moment we’ve all had where we feel threatened by someone else’s self-improvement. This moment is completely understandable, of course. When you see someone who seems to be pulling their life together in a powerful way, it can be enough to make you feel like your own life is coming unraveled!

However, it’s important for us to support our friends in their successes. And when we get an invitation like Bamford did, we need to see this for what it is: an opportunity to enjoy the kind of breakthroughs and innovations in our own lives and careers that we’ve been missing for so long! Just think, you may be an emotional marketing guru in no time.

Getting motivated

“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.”

You may notice that a theme is developing here! Bamford, with her typical bluntness, describes what the real alternative to ambition and success is: sitting around and doing what amounts to absolutely nothing.

Why, then, are so many of us scared to pursue success in our own careers? There is actually a lot of truth in her humor. One person’s sitting-around time is another person’s work-life balance, and we’re afraid to disrupt that balance for an uncertain payoff. The irony, though, is that life will always feel unfulfilled if you look back on your ambition as what might have been.

On the meaning of wealth

“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.”

While it’s a bit gauche to say it out loud, most of us are avidly pursuing material success. As we make a name for ourselves and crawl our respective career ladders, we are often imagining some big payday that’s just around the corner.

Bamford, in her trademark sarcastic way, is trying to get us to redefine what it means to be wealthy and successful. Do you have a lot that you don’t want to share, both materially and emotionally? Then you may already have too much! By taking better stock of your wealth and priorities, you can find a path that is both emotionally and financially rewarding.

On optimism

“I never thought of myself as depressed as much as paralyzed by hope.”

Many people struggle with clinical depression. And those who don’t have clinical depression still may experience a kind of existential dread that keeps them from achieving the kind of success they are hoping for.

Here, though, Bamford identifies a third category: the people who are so paralyzed by the hope of a better future that they can’t really do anything in the here and now. Fortunately, the solution to this is relatively simple: We must realize that only we have agency and control of our own lives. If we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by hope, then we lose our chance at what we were hoping for in the first place! There’s no time like the present to shoot your shot with your best possible ideas.

Final thoughts

Laughter may or may not be the best medicine. However, it’s typically the medicine we need to re-examine our lives, careers and priorities.

In this way, Maria Bamford is one of the best physicians out there. And with this prescription for more of her dark humor, you may be able to achieve more than you ever thought possible!

Chris S is a professor of English at a small college in Northwest Florida. He has over ten years of experience in teaching others how to write and uses his knowledge to provide clients with well-researched answers and explanations. He has answered over 1500 questions for Ask.com and written hundreds of articles for other sites ranging from entertainment-centric “Top 10 lists” to detailed breakdowns of how to enter new career fields. From blogs to lists to any custom content, he is here to impress you.


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