If there’s one thing to know about Maria Bamford, it’s that she loves a 12-step group.
The comedian has attended an assortment of 12-step programs over the years, and though she’s not supposed to share which ones she attends, she has a habit of disclosing those secrets to various major publications. These groups are also a huge part of her new memoir, “Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult.”
Because her favorite 12-step group is on Mondays, that is Bamford’s favorite day in Los Angeles — so for all intents and purposes, this is a Monday Funday. And though she loves living in Altadena with her husband, Scott Marvel Cassidy, and their dogs, Muffin and Max, Bamford also ventures across L.A. to try out material in new neighborhoods.
“What I’ve always loved about [L.A.] is the extreme positivity to the point of delusion,” Bamford said. “I’d rather have that. Don’t tell me what you really think. I prefer somebody going, ‘you’re amazing,’ and then, and then I never see them again because they live in Marina del Rey.”
“That’s the nice thing about Los Angeles geography,” she added. “If you bomb, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not gonna ever see that person ever again.”
Here’s how she would spend her perfect Sunday — ahem, Monday in L.A.
9 a.m. Hit the gym
We go to the Wellrock, they have a class at 9 a.m. It is a welcoming gym; it’s owned by a couple — Sarah and Jesse. They have the kind of exercises where they go, ‘Well, you can do this,’ where they add different weights, and then they go, ‘or you can do this,’ or ‘Maria, you could just take a walk down to the liquor store and get some cookies and come back in 15 minutes.’ You’re welcome to do whatever you can or can’t. There are some genuine athletes there, but they don’t shame us. Our pictures are all on the wall.
The classes are every day of the week and you have to sign up for them online — which I always do — and then sometimes [people] don’t show up, which irritates Sarah, and she’s right.
10 a.m. Grab a nitro cold brew
We go to Café de Leche, owned by Anya and Matt. They get all of their stuff sourced from Ethiopia and Nicaragua, and they have an insanely lovely staff. Every person they’ve ever hired is kind, so we try to memorize everybody’s names. We get coffees — what do I get? A nitro cold brew. Yes, that’s irresponsible. I should not. I already have a natural tremor. What am I doing? And my husband gets an oat milk latte. And then we hopefully chitchat with some people at the cafe because that’s what you’re really there for: the eye contact. There’s limited eye contact in Los Angeles.
10:30 a.m. Take Muffin and Max to the (illegal) dog park
Then we go to the dog park, which is an illegal dog park. I’m not gonna say where it is. I will not say where it is. But sometimes the sheriff comes by and says, “Hey, everybody! Put your dog on a leash!” And we all do. But then as soon as he leaves — or she leaves — the dogs are off leash again.
It’s not right. I don’t want people to find out about it. I mean, I do, because there is a text feed. We’re all in a group chat together. But it’s probably … 100 dogs.
11:30 a.m. Kick off the workday
As a comedian, I live the life of the semi-retired. So yeah, by the time we get back home, it’s 11:30. That’s when the workday begins. What is the workday? Ah, this is monstrous. My husband goes into his studio, he’s actually working very hard on his paintings. We probably say hi to our fellow renter, but he’s also our friend, Jeff. And then usually I head off to a cafe to meet someone off Twitter.
12:30 p.m. Have lunch with a total stranger
Here’s what you do: You tweet out, on your Twitter feed — depending on if you’re still using Twitter, I know I shouldn’t — say “I’m in this ZIP Code, can anyone meet me in the next half hour and listen to me practice my bits, my comedy?” And then you meet a new friend for coffee at Amara Kitchen, because it’s almost time for lunch. There, I have a Mary’s chicken salad. And there are not a lot of tables, so you’ve got to be cool about it. And if there aren’t any tables for you, then walk to the Altadena Triangle Park and sit on one of those park benches. It’s either weird, or it’s a relief to get all the new material out and I’ve met a new friend. Then I just walk back home, which is about a half hour walk.
3 p.m. Nap time!
I might clean the house and take a nap. Fall over in a heap. I’m on a number of meds, Seroquel being the one that’s going to make you the sleepiest. So yeah, I’m gonna go a little nigh’ nigh’ and when I get back up again, shotgun a little more nitro cold brew.
5 p.m. Relax in an unheated, bug-infested pool
Then I’m at home rumbling around. I might get some work done. We have a pool, which is unheated, and it’s filled with wasps and ants. But [if] you swim around that and you have a positive attitude, boom!
6:30 p.m. Grab dinner with a friend
I can walk within my neighborhood to Everest burger. They don’t have air conditioning — that’s the tough part —but they are a strangely good restaurant for French fries and salads. I meet a friend, usually from my 12-step group, and we sit there, chitchat, then go to the 12-step meeting.
7:30 p.m. Attend a 12-step meeting
The meeting is from 7:30 to 9 and it’s at a hot church library that is always hot, no matter what the season. It’s delightful. It is uncomfortable. Many people are right to criticize 12-step programs in that they can [use] paternalistic language, very Judeo-Christian, so it can be a bit of a turnoff. But it is free. And it is one of the only places I know where people talk about jobs and money in a very open way. I don’t agree with many parts of it. But the parts where people bring food — strawberry muffins from a mix — okay!
9 p.m. Clown around at an open mic
Then after that, I get a ride — that’s another great thing about 12-step programs, you can get a ride from people — over to the clown theater. What is clown theater? It’s stand-up with nudity and crime and, at times, a bit of a consent sort of thing? There’s a lot of consent, because they get up in your business. This clown theater is called the Public Displays of Altadena, located on Fair Oaks [Ave]. It’s right next to Pizza of Venice, one of the best pizza places in Altadena. I go to the open mic there at the PDA. You [can also] go to Town and Country Liquor, which I think is one of three liquor stores on that street. And Town and Country … the gummy bears are fresh. There’s also community activities outside where people are enjoying themselves. And then there’s the clown contingent who is mostly in fluorescent Carhartts. And I believe I fit in with that group.
11 p.m. Wind down for the night
And so that’s a full night. By the time I get home — and I get a ride from a fellow open mic-er — it’s been a full day. And it’s a good one. I take my night meds and Scott and I usually watch some sort of TV. We watch the British “Taskmasters.” That’s a good one. I’m usually doing bookkeeping while watching TV. So because I love doing Quicken and QuickBooks. So much fun to categorize transactions. It’s a dumb hobby, but I don’t seem to ever want to knit.