Moms, comedy, cocktails: Pump and Dump Comedy Night makes ‘em laugh
The first thing you notice when you walk into northwest Denver bar Local 46 is all … those … women. More than 150 of them in all.
The second thing you notice are the four dudes hanging awkwardly out of place in back, next to the freestanding waffle chef. (Mmm, waffles.)
The lady with the mic playfully refers to these guys as “the mother (bleepers),” and she’s not so much being cruel as … literal. After all, if it weren’t for these (and other) husbands and fathers, none of the women here would even be mothers. And almost all of them are.
Here is the Pump and Dump, a new monthly “parentally incorrect” live comedy talk show where moms dish the diaper-doo, and men eat the waffles.
The Pump and Dump lactational spectacular — which plays Local 46 on the last Wednesday of each month, including this Wednesday — is the brainchild of Denver comedian/singer Shayna Ferm and the heretofore oh-so-serious, award-winning actor Karen Slack. The party is hosted by MC Doula, a.k.a. Tracey Tee. (A doula, for those of you who don’t know — meaning men — is a continuous caregiver to a mother during labor.)
Ferm is a Ponderosa High School grad whose (premarital) iTunes musical musings have included frisky titles like “Walk of Shame” and “Lube.” Now she’s a sort-of respectable, married mother of two who came up with the idea for the Pump and Dump in the shower. Not because the shower is a particular source of epiphany. It’s just the only place she gets any quiet time.
The premise: Motherhood is hard. Everything about it. And it’s harder when you are going through it alone. So why not gather a bunch of mothers in a room and laugh (and drink) about it together?
Ferm discovered there was comedy in commiseration “from Day 1,” she said. “You realize that motherhood is the biggest club in the world, and you are now part of it.”
And what’s so funny about it?
“Well, I pumped (breast milk) directly into my lap,” said Ferm.
OK, that’s funny.
The Pump and Dump — which is free — has packed Local 46 from its debut gathering in October. The women sing songs, perform comedy sketches, raffle off prizes and commune about the silliest commonalties that bond all mothers. A recurring improvised sketch has the moms interviewing guest stars who portray the world’s most inappropriate nannies.
“If we don’t make you laugh,” Ferm promises, “you can throw dirty diapers at us.”
A key element is audience participation. Each arriving mother is asked to write down the most messed-up thing her kid did that week.
Turnabout is fair play. Ladies?
Ferm: “Every time I change my daughter’s diaper, she tells me that it tickles.”
Slack: “Our daughter comes into our bedroom buck-naked at 3:30 in the morning, chipper as can be, and says, ‘Mommy, I’m awake!’ ”
Tee: “My kid now knows how to fart on cue. And the messed-up part about that is mom and dad are proud. We think it’s awesome.”
Ferm emphasizes the Pump and Dump is not a self-help group. But if it were, said Tee, “This would be my vision of the perfect support group … the kind where everyone is drinking and laughing.”
That’s not therapy, Ferm added. “It’s a night out.”
Make that an hour out. Because what new mother ever really gets more than an hour to herself anyway? So they keep the program intentionally short and get the moms home early.
But an hour is enough, said Slack, a North High grad. “When you are a new mom, you just need to be with other moms who are feeling the same way that you are right now. It’s realizing you are not on an island.”
And whenever you give a new mom a chance to get out of the house and have a drink, Ferm said, “You had better take it.”
Why, the writing of this story provides these young mothers with the opportunity to do that very thing. So they each pack their kids up and stroller over to Local 46 for an interview, and the photo opportunity that comes with it. For the photo, it is suggested that perhaps the moms should each have drinks in their hands while their five combined kids, all ages 2 and under, run rampant around them. Like in real life.
Local 46 co-owner Niya Diehl whips up a martini, a Guinness and a whiskey.
And they are not prop drinks. It is 11 o’clock in the morning, and the women are not shy about accepting. After all, these are women who have learned how to pour wine with one hand and pour a sippy-cup with the other. They’ve earned a drink.
Women have told the Pump and Dumpers this was their first night out in a year. The response has been so positive, the team is now planning additional shows that will travel to bars in different Denver neighborhoods.
“After a while, you realize that motherhood is all sort of hilarious and impossible at once,” Tee said. “So you have to be able to laugh at yourself,” Ferm added, “or you will never be able to keep your sanity.”
“PUMP AND DUMP: AN EVENING OF COMEDY FOR MOTHERS” Hosted by Shayna Ferm, Karen Slack and MC Doula. 8 p.m. Wednesday at Local 46, 4586 Tennyson St. (Local 46 also hosts the “46 Family Fandango” from 12-4 p.m. Sundays, an anything-goes weekly gathering of parents and children complete with face-painting, storytelling, hula hoops and a full-service bar.) Admission to Pump and Dump is free. local46bar.com.