In an early scene from “Lady Dynamite,” a comedian named Maria Bamford, fresh out of a stint in a mental-health facility, begs her manager to lighten her schedule.
“I would like to do less, not more,” she says. “Be less ambitious.”
The scene and sentiment may have come from the pens of Pam Brady (“South Park”) and Mitchell Hurwitz (“Arrested Development”), but they were inspired by the real-life Bamford, the most famous comic to ever call Duluth her home.
The 45-year-old stand-up, long a favorite among her peers — Stephen Colbert recently called her his favorite comedian on the planet — may now be on the verge of serious stardom, whether she likes it or not. She reflected on the prospects of her new series from Los Angeles, where she was in the midst of some personal bookkeeping:
Q: How are you doing?
A: I think I’m doing good. I’m trying to pay attention to whether I’m doing too much. My husband knows that if I start talking too fast and have obsessive ideas involving philosophy, that he should probably get in touch with my doctor. I’ve been happier and more stable in the past five years than I ever have been. The mood stabilizer I’m on really helps. I know a lot of people are anti-med, so they should feel free to rest in the glory that I’m wrong.
Q: How close does this series cut to the bone?
A: It’s different than stand-up, because it’s a group effort. It’s a wonderful game of Telephone with everyone putting in their own experiences and interpretations. The one thing with stand-up is you’re on your own, but now that I’m older, I’m better with people. At least I think I am.
Q: Your character says she wants less attention. The irony is that this show could make you bigger than ever.
A: That’s definitely true. Having your own show is the ultimate in ambition. But even if it’s huge, it’ll be huge for like two seconds. People are already over “Game of Thrones.” When I was doing Target commercials, I would go to their convention once a year and all these giants would be there — Oprah, Beyoncé, Tony Bennett — and people were still walking out bored. Just insane.
Q: You shot for at least a week in Minnesota. Why was that important to you?
A: We were originally going to shoot in Duluth, but that was too expensive, I guess. Minneapolis was the next best thing. Not that Minneapolis itself is the next big thing. Minnesota is a really important part of me creatively and I wanted to have something where my family could be around. A lot of guest actors and crew were Minnesotans, which made me really proud. Everyone was awesome possums. I remember being so scared when I first did a one-person show in Minneapolis. I was also waitressing at Pizza Lucé. This woman I normally served came in and said, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” because my act was kind of dirty. I guess that could happen anywhere. I would probably hear that in my own neighborhood more if I knew Spanish well enough.
Q: When comedians are asked who should be better known, your name almost always comes up. Has it been frustrating or a relief not to be more popular?
A: Awww, I don’t care. On some level, I wish I was. I guess. I don’t know. Everything has its good and bad side to it. I’m really happy with whatever has happened and what hasn’t happened.
Njustin@startribune.com Twitter: @nealjustin