My Comedy Hero: Felicity Ward on Maria Bamford
The Australian stand-up picks the American comedian and star of her own Netflix show
From the time I was about eight years old, I've had all sorts of people set fire to something inside me and call me to comedy in one way or another: Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Ruprecht will continue to be the unconscious inspiration to every gurn I ever do), Ren & Stimpy (their violence and grotesqueness), The Simpsons (series 1–9), The Late Show (Australian sketch show, not Dave Letterman chat show), Judith Lucy (stand-up and sketch performer from aforementioned Late Show), League of Gentlemen, and Amy Sedaris in Strangers with Candy. The truth of the matter is I only started doing sketch comedy when I was 24 and didn't start stand-up until I was 28, so it took me a long time to notice the signposts. I know: I'm very old.
But it was after my first stand-up gig that someone suggested I might like Maria Bamford. We had dial-up internet at the time so downloading a clip took between 18-20 working days. I watched the first clip and decided there was no point doing stand-up because everything I didn't even know I wanted to do had already been done, and the best it would ever be done.
I didn't know you could drop into characters and create the best bits of sketch by standing in one spot and still be yourself. She did. And she was exquisite. She has a bit about how she's created a more relatable 'stand-up comedienne' that she does when she's on the road so that people in small towns aren't as weirded out by her: it's my favourite stand-up routine of all time.
And now her new Netflix series Lady Dynamite is one of those shows that you watch with a gaping jaw, crying, 'how did this get made?' It's brilliant, and inspired, and truly mad. There is so much going on at all times you can only assume they flummoxed the producers into making what has to be one of the coolest and funniest 'sitcoms' in the last decade. Anyway, I love her. I probably always will. She's a hero.
Felicity Ward is on tour until Wed 14 Dec.