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The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show and Night Out For Once with Guest Comic, Nato Green
October 15, 2014
Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm
Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley
[DISCLAIMER: This interview contain explicit language.]
Hot of the heels of their sold out show last March, Shayna Ferm, comedian, musician and mother of a two and a three year old, and her coach, Tracey Tee (a.k.a. MC Doula), mom to a three year old, return to host another raucous evening of comedy, inappropriate music, prizes, drinking, and swearing. Mark your calendars, get ready to knock a few drinks back and laugh your ass off because you’re in for another wide ride with the moms of Pump and Dump. I caught up with Shayna to see what these crazy moms are all about.
How did you get started in comedy?
I had been doing comedy for 11 years in New York City before I had my first kid. We moved to Denver when I was pregnant with my second. I knew I would produce something in Denver, I just didn’t know what. Then I had the idea of the Pump and Dump while I was in the shower and my son was a few weeks old, and I was obviously in the throws of pumping.
How did you and Tracey come together?
We went to junior high and high school together in Parker, Colorado. Then I moved to Chicago and New York and Tracey went to Los Angeles. Tracey did comedy at “The Groundlings” and a lot of writing in Los Angeles. We reconnected through Facebook when we found out that we were having babies three weeks apart. She was living in Denver and I was moving to Denver so she asked me for a play date. It was very natural to ask her to do this show with me. We created her persona of MC Doula as my sidekick and the partnership was born.
Tell me more about your show, The Pump and Dump.
I was reading some of the local mommy websites and community boards and I just kept thinking, “Man, these moms need a night out.” It’s so hard to just stop for a second and laugh about how truly fucked up being a parent is. I also think that there is something to be communicated to moms who have experienced lives of independence before children and are trying to reconnect with their identity. We need to step back and realize that it’s okay to miss who we were before children, celebrate who we are now and realize that we’re all just doing the best that we can. So we put together a night out (for us too) for moms to go out for an hour and half and still get home in time to get sleep – because we knew they’d have to wake up in another three hours (like us). It’s grown exponentially over the last two years. Now we tour the country and we have two venues we perform at monthly in Denver that sell out every show. In Denver alone, we reach over 500 moms, LIVE, a month.
What did you do to become a comedian?
I was an actor in Chicago and then moved to New York City with a play in 2001. I started doing comedy because I could write and perform anytime I want to rather than wait for someone to hand me a job. I started in the NYC sketch and alternative comedy scene which was big in early 2000’s. I never ever imagined that parenting would become a part of it.
What kind of surprises are in store for your audience?
The show is so much fun – a lot of audience participation, we give away a lot of wine. I don’t think people know what to expect because the concept seems a little cheesy, but when people come to see the show they realize there’s nothing cheesy about us. It’s an honest and real approach to what is funny about being a parent. We say the things you want to say. I think people are surprised at what a great time they have. The positive response is overwhelming and the word we hear and are touched by the most is “validation.” So, to answer your question, audiences will be surprised at how genuinely hard they laugh and how great of a time they have.
Your March show sold out and was a smash hit. Is there anything different that we can expect?
It’s always a little different. Tracey and I pull from our own experiences which change day to day, really. We have some new songs, new trivia questions, new things we’ve developed since March. The nice thing about music is that people do want to hear their favorite songs again.
Do dads ever come or is this pretty mom focused? Should a dad be concerned about being in the audience?
Dads are welcome!! In fact, we give them free shots we call “The Emergency C-Section.” We also lovingly refer to them as “Motherfuckers” because, well, they fuck mothers. Dads come all the time, people without kids come. This is as much of a Date Night as it is a Girls’ Night Out. There is no dad or kid bashing.
Are you pleased that the show gets people laughing about things that would normally make us want to cry?
Yes, I feel like it is the pressure gauge for a lot of moms – it’s certainly our own. The response we’ve had is overwhelming. The people who come tell us they needed us. There is a camaraderie in the commiseration. We end the show with a song called “You’re An Awesome Mom.” We’re all so hard on ourselves and so critical of ourselves, it’s nice to be in a room full of all kinds of parents, with all kinds of different views on parenting – from people who eat placentas to people who have never tried a cloth diaper – all of us in the same space, laughing about the same things. It’s all part of a movement that we have created called the The Mom to Mom Project. Our mission is to spread generosity and humor, mom to mom.
As a comedian, musician and mom you’ve carved out a unique niche for yourself. What obstacles have you encountered bring so much diversity to the stage?
It’s really more that other people don’t know what to do with me. But after all these years, I know clearly what I want to communicate to the audience. I definitely consider myself a comedian. My music isn’t anything but funny. And, I just want to be clear – I could not do the show with out MC Doula. She is my co-host and guides us all through the experience. She is not only an amazing business partner but also an integral part of who we are.
Which comedians inspired you to get on stage?
I grew up in love with abstract comedy. I am a huge Steve Martin. I loved Saturday Night Live as a kid. I’m not sure I aspired to be like anybody because my goal wasn’t necessarily comedy. In doing it, though, I found a great deal of people that I highly respect. One of my favorite comedians is John Mulaney who was just starting out when I was in New York. I was fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing group of young comics – Kristen Schaal, Demetri Martin, Nick Kroll, Eugene Mirman – who have all gone off to do awesome things. I was really lucky to be a part of the glory days of NYC alternative comedy.
Can you tell me about how juggling motherhood with two young children and a career is working out for you.
Tracey and I are work at home moms. We do travel, but only once a month. We are actually bringing our kids with us on this San Francisco trip and we’ll see how that goes. The balancing act and day to day with the kids is not easy at all. More so, juggling the exhaustion from having really young kids and finding energy to do all that we do is the biggest challenge. My youngest was 6 weeks old when we started this show. I still wasn’t sleeping through the night. People would say “I can’t come to the show. I’m going to have to get up in a couple of hours.” and we’re like “Yeah, us too!“
Do your spouses ever comment about using them as material or embarrassed by some of the things you say? Does your spouse think you’re funny?
Our husbands are so proud. They love that we are making it work. People talk to us, share their stories with us, we’re on tv, we’re in the newspaper. They are 100% behind us. I think the thing they enjoy the most is watching other people experience the show.
Your comedy has been described as sexy, risqué and raunchy. Do you agree?
I think my brand of comedy, my persona on stage, has always been irreverent and a little “off color,” as my parents would say. Any comedian will tell you it takes ten years to perfect your persona. So what I am communicating on stage, I’ve been developing my entire career. I’m always writing edgy material. It’s my sense of humor and I don’t see anything wrong with it. That’s just who I am as a comic. I think that in this show, we say the things that people want to say but don’t and it’s a relief to hear someone get up there and talk about it. We’re certainly not trying to shock anybody – just do it the way we do it.
What is your process for writing, editing, to forming a great joke like?
There are two sides to this. There is the song writing which is where I am inspired by concept. Then I decide how to approach it, think of rhymes and things that make me giggle, then it comes together. For the show itself, we are always writing new questions to ask our experts, new “Never Have I Ever” ideas, trying new segments, etc. We sketch an outline for the show, decide the order of the performances and figure out the new stuff we need to write. The music is a separate entity. I’m happy when I can get my shit together enough to write a new song. I actually just wrote a song for the last show that has a very Joanie Mitchell style, which surprised me. The concept is that I would do anything for you; I’ll clean your puke, I’ll wipe your butt, I’ll drive you to school – but please don’t make me push you on the swings. Every mom has that ONE thing they just don’t want to do, right? I fucking hate the swings.
When it comes to motherhood and marriage, there’s always a good dollop of recurring topics. What would you say today is the biggest modern day buzz with being a parent?
It comes back to what we talked about before; trying to remember who you were before kids. There is something about when you have little kids, you lose yourself for like 5 years. I’m not sure our parents felt they could complain. The truth is, complaining doesn’t make you a horrible person, it’s difficult or maybe impossible to enjoy every minute of this. It’s SO HARD! So lets just talk about it. The best thing you can do, we feel, is tell another mom they are doing a great job. When someone tells you that, you remember it.
You are from Denver. How do you think Marin moms are similar &/or different from Denver moms?
The reason we are coming back to Sweetwater is because we loved the Marin moms so much. Despite the requests for appearances at cities we have not been to yet, this is the first venue we’re coming back to a second time because we had such an amazing time. I am not sure why there is such a strong connection but it’s a really beautiful place to live like Denver, great place to raise kids, a lot of people who appreciate culture have a great sense of humor. It was such a great experience that we cannot wait to come back.
What do you have planned for the future?
We will continue to tour thru 2015. We have some great partnerships in the works, we’re working on a book deal, we are making music videos to a lot of the songs, and we are keeping our show going in Denver. Ultimately, though, we just want to bring this show to more people.
We also have developed a product line alongside The Mom to Mom Project. We sell gifts for moms to give to other moms including cards, gifts, bags, and more. So keep an eye out for us.
For more information about the Pump and Dump show visit their website at thepumpanddumpshow.com.