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Maria Bamford mines her own mental illness for comedy

'Lady Dynamite' is Maria Bamford's new Netflix sitcom, which fictionalizes the actor's real-life mental illness without shying away from its realities.
While Maria Bamford is looking back on her issues through 'Lady Dynamite', she urges anyone suffering with a mental illness to seek help and remember they're not alone. (Ben Shannon/CBC)
Listen21:40

Maria Bamford's new Netflix show, Lady Dynamite, may be a comedy, but it doesn't hold back when it tackles the issue of mental illness.  

The sitcom is based on Bamford's actual mental health struggles, so while it takes scenes like a breakdown in a doctor's office and puts a comedic spin on it, the actor was careful about not making it all "hilarious and fun."

It's not just the realities of what it's like to live with mental illness that Bamford wanted to include, but also those moments in retrospect where the circumstances just happened to be so absurd, you can't help but laugh.

"[Mental health facilities] are so aesthetically depressing," Bamford tells Gill, "almost as if an art director came in and said, 'Let's break a few more chairs, and take more of the puzzle pieces out of the puzzles and have the Family Circle magazines not only dusty, but teetering ... and the windows have to be dirty, for sure.'"

WEB EXTRA | In Lady Dynamite, we see a version of Bamford's parents, but her mother has always played a big part in her comedy. Watch the first installment of Bamford's YouTube series Ask My Mom.

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