The surreal and hyper-humane humour of “Lady Dynamite”

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“IF I keep the ice-cube trays full, no one will die.” So goes the opening line of “Anxiety Song”, a bit from a stand-up routine by Maria Bamford. She stands behind the microphone, her usually quavering voice oddly steady as she sings in monotone: “As long as I clench my fists at odd intervals, then the darkness that’s within me won’t force me to do anything inappropriately violent or sexual at dinner parties.” Hands waving showgirl-style, she finishes with the clincher: “They can’t get ya if you’re singing a song.” 

She sings from experience. Ms Bamford has obsessive compulsive disorder, which manifests itself in intrusive, repetitive thoughts. In the year she turned 40, Ms Bamford checked herself into a psychiatric ward three times and was diagnosed with Type-II Bipolar, which the American Psychiatric Association classifies by its cycles between depression and hypomania (described by one sufferer in a New York Times Continue reading

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