KP: Have you ever gotten into a fist fight?
MB: No, sadly, I have not. I have imagined such a thing in great detail but it has never coalesced. Even so, I am ever at the ready to throw down whenever the situation presents itself. Maybe here at the Ladies are Funny Festival! Oh, that would be serendipitous. However, I am five-and-a-half months pregnant so I imagine that the person who doesn’t mind pummeling a lady that pregnant is probably somebody with whom nobody should ever want to mess. I might have to just stay out of trouble for the time being. But once this baby is out of me, I’m back jerkface ne’er-do-wells! You best get your goddamned dukes up.
KP: So. Los Angeles. Has it been worth it? Did you have any set up prospect when you went, or did you just pick up one day and Thelma and Louise your way out there?
MB: Los Angeles! You are worth it! You are beautiful! You mean something! (I’m validating Los Angeles) Really, I have been very happy in Los Angeles for the 8 years I have held permanent residence here. I probably could have been more productive but alas most people can say that so I will not dwell. And funny you should mention it, I did kind of Thelma and Louise it to LA. I hadn’t planned on moving rather I was going to live out of my cousin’s house in Minneapolis and go on the road. However, the person who was to book me on the road pulled out at the last minute after I had already quit my job and moved out of my place. A bunch of my friends had been campaigning to get me to move anyhow, Austinite Chris Fairbanks being one of them, so I decided why the hell not and changed my plans westward. Fortuitously, Maria Bamford had found out that I was going out there and asked me if I would housesit for her while she was in Australia. I ended up living with her for almost five months until I found my own place. It kinda just came together and really worked out for the best. She was a great roommate by the way. Insider Maria fact: SHE STORED BOOKS IN HER OVEN.
KP: What’s the best celebrity encounter you’ve ever had?
MB: I have had a lot of celebrity encounters over the years. So many, I forget a lot of them. This may not be the best all time but is the most recent. A month or so ago, my husband, father-in-law and I went to dinner at this small fancy pizza place in Brentwood called Milo & Olive. And shortly after we got there, Conan O’Brien and his wife walked in, put there name on the list and then Conan stood right next to me waiting for his table. This place actually has three community tables and Conan and his wife ended up sitting at our table along with another couple of girls already seated there. He was seriously the most genuinely friendly person celebrity or otherwise and had legitimate conversations with the girls next to him. I however was hiding because I felt like I didn’t want to meet him in that situation rather than meeting him when I do standup for his show hopefully at some point. My father-in-law was not so shy and introduced himself as he happens to be friends with Conan’s parents who are doctors in Boston as is my father-in-law. Thankfully, he did not introduce me as his comedian daughter-in-law as that would have been an epic level of embarrassment. Also to note, he paid for the meal of the people sitting next to him. Super duper class act.
KP: What’s the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you regarding your comedy? What was your response?
MB: A lot of mean things have been said to me over the years and when I think about them, it still feels bad. People are jerks! One funny back and forth I remember is from when I was in Minneapolis working at Acme probably seven years ago.This guy in the audience very matter of factly says, “You’re not funny.” And he said it in this quiet part so everybody heard. It made me instantly angry. Let me note here that this gentleman was wearing an Adidas t-shirt. I snapped back something like, “What? Does Adidas sponsor your team of assholes?” Huzzah!
KP: The Funniest Person In Austin Contest is going on right now, did you compete in it? What’s the best thing to say to someone when they don’t advance?
MB: I competed it in every year since I started comedy (2000) and purposefully moved away in 2004 before that contest began so I didn’t have to participate. It is really tortuous. And I think now it is even worse because it is ten times as big. It’s just this huge mountain of pressure that gets put on you every year FOR SOMETHING THAT REALLY DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS. It’s best to not focus on winning but rather to just get into the finals because then you have the opportunity to showcase for industry. Performing in the finals in 2003 in front of Comedy Central people was how I got my first TV spot on Premium Blend. That really should be your endgame not putting on that disease-infested cape and crown.
KP: Do you think that all-lady comedy festivals are helpful, or a hindrance to women in the industry?
MB: Well, you have put me in a trap here. I will be honest. I think mostly, as they exist now, they are a hindrance to women. I would like to set apart this festival because I feel care has been put into it and the heart of it is in the right place. I do not want to name names but other festivals are not so wonderful and really are set up not to promote truly talented comedic voices who happen to be female but rather invite every Jane, Susan and Helen just to make a buck off them. I think that happens with a lot of theme type festivals or shows whether it be women, black, gay, etc. The promoters look to just booking the show with comics that fit whatever demo and don’t give a shit if they are actually funny. That is a hindrance and it makes me angry. Moreover, when it all comes down to it, I don’t like to think of myself as a female comic in the industry but rather a comic in the industry. Oh, and the term comedienne drives me bat-shit insane.
KP: Well said. Now, let’s all get in a fist fight!