Crazy Target Lady gets the axe

JASON ZABEL | Updated 10/29/2012

The holiday ad character, played by Duluth native Maria Bamford, will not be renewed by Target.

Target Corp.

Anyone watching TV during the holiday season has likely seen Crazy Target Lady, the excitable character played by Duluth native Maria Bamford. She’s got holiday chutzpah with a dash of suburban psychosis, and she was arguably one of the more interesting TV ad characters out there.

But not anymore.

Word has come from Target’s new chief marketing honcho that the Bammer’s out this holiday season, and ads featuring a “Deals Duet,” which will consist of a pair reworking holiday songs into what will surely be genius jingles about discounted toilet paper, are in. Oh, and that famous cone-nosed dog. He’ll be around.

For anyone lucky enough to have seen Maria Bamford perform live standup in the Twin Cities, it’s clear that she is one of the more gifted comedians working the scene today. Between comedy specials, podcasts and interviews, Maria Bamford’s theatrical style of parodying the world around her is developed with hilarious - and usually dark - precision. Sometimes her act feels more performance art than comedy set, and the very idea that a major brand like Target featured Bamford at all is actually kind of miraculous.

In 2011, I interviewed Bamford for the A.V. Club and asked her about doing commercials - and she seemed noticeably uneasy on the subject, but also settled into it.

"I think doing commercials, or really anything on television where people have to change your words, or where there are lawyers involved looking at what you’re going to say, you are making compromises. My new joke is that I’m redecorating my house in shades of gray. I took that big backpack of money. I think the weird thing when you get involved with corporate entities - whether it be Comedy Central, Viacom, whatever - is that you’re working for something that doesn’t seem very human. It’s not clear what it believes in. Well, I guess sometimes it can be."

It seems odd that Target would do away with a character who made such a noticeable splash. In fact, to most people, Maria Bamford is known more for being the Crazy Target Lady than she is for being Maria Bamford. But I guess that’s how it works. Anyway, good luck to Target on what will surely be adorable duet ads about tinsel and the like, all set to "The Little Drummer Boy."

On Nov. 30 Bamford with be in St. Paul for a sold-out installment of Minnesota Public Radio's popular "Wits" series, alongside singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile.