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Comedian Maria Bamford finds new ways to perform stand-up from self-isolation

How do you perform stand-up comedy during the COVID-19 pandemic? Maria Bamford joined q’s Tom Power to share a few ideas that have been working for her.
Comedian Maria Bamford is test-driving virtual methods to bring the laughter to quarantined audiences. (Robyn Von Swank)

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced artists to get creative with how they share their work with quarantined audiences. Bands have been live streaming concerts and authors are planning virtual readings, but if you're a stand-up comedian, how do you carry on without getting any applause?

Los Angeles-based comedian Maria Bamford has a few ideas. She started by offering virtual writing workshops and performing one-on-one stand-up shows over the video conferencing service Zoom. She then opened up her performances for a larger virtual crowd.

"It's odd," Bamford told q's Tom Power. "I'm still not sure how to do it because I tried leaving everyone's microphones [unmuted] so they could laugh, but the problem with that, which I totally understand, is that sometimes people get into a conversation with somebody who's with them, or the dogs start barking. It's super distracting."

Bamford joked that she may have to get her husband, Scott, to act as a "shill from within the room" so that she can hear some laughter.

"The laughter is something that you miss," said Bamford. "So I'm thinking I might do shows for smaller groups of people so that I can keep [them] unmuted and hear the laughs. I mean it's just wonderful to hear people laugh."

For more information on Bamford's virtual writing workshops and stand-up shows, head over to her Twitter @mariabamfoo. You can stream her latest comedy special, Weakness Is The Brand, on Amazon Prime and Google Play now.

Produced by Vanessa Nigro

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