Maria Elizabeth Sheldon Bamford (born September 3, 1970) is an American stand-up comedian, actress and voice actress. She is best known for her portrayal of her dysfunctional family and self-deprecating comedy involving jokes about depression and anxiety. Her comedy style is surreal, and incorporates voice impressions of various character types.
Bamford was born at the naval base in Port Hueneme, California, where her father Joel was serving as a Navy doctor. She grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, where she attended Chester Park Elementary and The Marshall School. She went on to attend Bates College, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Minnesota, where she earned a degree in Creative Writing. She started doing stand-up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at age 19, at Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret. Bamford then joined Edinburgh's improvised comedy show The Improverts. Maria has one sister, Sarah Bamford Seidelmann.
Bamford has been in a number of movies and television shows, including voice appearances in cartoons. Most notably, she was the voice of Shriek in CatDog, a huge selection of secondary characters in Cartoon Network's Adventure Time and Mrs. Botsford, Violet, and Leslie on the long running PBS educational series WordGirl. The best-known aspect of her act is her various impersonations (including her mother and her agent). Her stand-up comedy often takes the form of vignettes rather than the standard setup/punchline format.
Bamford was featured in the documentary series The Comedians of Comedy on Comedy Central and Showtime, and appeared in short skits titled "The Maria Bamford Show" broadcast on the recently rebooted website Super Deluxe. She also appears on the comedy compilation CD Comedy Death-Ray.
Her album Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome, produced by Comedy Central Records, was released in April 2009 and includes a DVD containing "The Maria Bamford Show" episodes.
During the Christmas 2009-2010 shopping seasons, Bamford was featured in a series of Target commercials, portraying an overachieving shopper determined to be first in line.
For Christmas 2009, she released a free stand-up special online as a gift to her fans.
In 2012 she released The Special Special Special for download through Chill.com. The special was recorded at her own home in Los Angeles with only Bamford's parents present as the audience and is now available on Netflix.
In 2013, Maria created and stars in a web series called 'Ask My Mom.' Maria plays both herself and her mom, who answers questions sent in by fans.
Also in 2013, Bamford appeared as herself in one episode of the interview web series All Growz Up with Melinda Hill.
She provides the voice of Pema in Nickelodeon cartoon The Legend of Korra. In 2013, she appeared in season four of Arrested Development as DeBrie Bardeaux, Tobias Funke's love interest.
She appeared in Season 3 of Louis CK's Louie. And in 2014, she co-created, wrote and starred in "The Program" with Melinda Hill, produced by Funny or Die.
In 2014, she won the American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic.
In January 2016, she was a guest on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert where he called her his "favorite comedian on planet Earth."
In 2016 Bamford will star in the mockumentary Lady Dynamite based on her own life on Netflix.
Bamford has stated publicly that she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, "the new gladiator sandal," as she puts it in her comic performances.
On December 11, 2014, during her show at the Neptune Theater in Seattle, Bamford announced that she was engaged to artist Scott Marvel Cassidy. It was also announced on her Twitter feed. They were married in 2015.