Despite malicious rumors to the contrary, driven by the fact that both women are intelligent, talented, sharp-featured petite bottle-blondes who are reported to have two dogs each, and, as far as I can determine, have never been seen at the same place at the same time, they are not the same person, as I hope to demonstrate tonight.
After all, Maria Bamford's two dogs are famously pugs. The breed or breeds of Maria Bello's dogs is not publicly known, as far as I have found (without looking too hard).
1. They are both given to fearless performances. Bamford tends, in her standup routines and her own dramatic projects, toward the confessional but also the very idiosyncratic...which she makes as universal as anyone could (she reminds me more of Lenny Bruce than any other active comedian, as I've mentioned before). Her newest album, pictured above, in not only brilliant but is augmented by a DVD of her web-series, the nearly one-woman Maria Bamford Show. Bello is never afraid to take an unsympathetic role, or to present the layers of charm and steel in characters who are facing severe challenges in their drama...brilliant work in A History of Violence, or in the rather less crowd-pleasing film in its DVD package, above.
Resolved: Bamford has two pugs.
2. Bamford has done extensive voice-acting for children's cartoons, while Bello has acted in a number of films aimed at children, such as Flicka and The Panda Adventure.
Resolved: While Bello might have two pugs, as far as can be determined, this is not specified.
3. Bello did what she could with a severely underwritten role in the disappointing, well-cast black comedy Thank You for Smoking; Bamford did what she could with a severely underwritten role in the disappointing, well-cast black comedy Lucky Numbers.
4. Both have taken roles in their art in which they mock the therapeutic/mental health professions, while implicitly suggesting the value of such efforts.
Resolved: Bello was apparently born in 1967, Bamford in 1970. A three year (and some months!) difference in ages...surely this can't be dismissed as a trivial gap in the vital statistics of two women around 40...also, you know, pugs.
5. Both are implicitly when not explicitly feminist in all their work...even in such buck-hustles as Bamford's television ads for Target stores and Bello's cheesecake film Coyote Ugly...
Resolved: Both have new DVDs out this week, Bello as a cast member of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee; Bamford's Plan B is a formal one-woman show dealing in depth with her life. (Among other new work coming out in theaters and on television and DVD/BluRay from both.)
So, would the same person, in different personae, thus "compete" with herself? Perhaps, for our benefit...looking forward to the mutual performance, just to set the record straight. And, pugs.