Raising children can feel like the world's most thankless and demanding job, especially if you're new at it. You cater to the whims of a demanding human being who can't take care of his or her basic needs and is immune to reason, logic and the construct of a speakable language.
Parents don't just need a night out. They need a night away from reality. They need the equivalent of a 1984-style Two Minutes Hate without all the cries for war against a fictional country. Enter The Pump and Dump Show, a touring comedy show created and hosted by comedians Tracey Tee and Shayna Ferm that celebrates and relieves the pressure of parenting. The show will be at the Texas Theatre at 7 p.m Friday.
"The thing we all really have in common is that raising kids is really hard, and every single mom, no matter who you are, struggles with the fact that they were a person before they had kids and are trying to find themselves again," Ferm says. "It's a very isolating thing to be a parent. To put all these moms in a room, that's what we've created over the years, and it's pretty powerful."
Ferm and Tee created the show in their hometown of Denver. The women have been friends since middle school but spent time away from each other on opposite sides of the country pursuing their comedy careers. When they learned they were both about to become mothers, they decided to move back to Denver to raise their kids.
The struggles of learning how to become parents prompted them to create a night out that turned into a comedy show at a northwest Denver bar. It's designed for parents who need time away from the children. The Pump and Dump Show, named for the old wives' tale that mothers who drink must pump breastmilk or risk getting their infant spawn drunk, grew so big that it needed a bigger venue. Pretty soon, its popularity outgrew the city, so the comedians took their show on the road.
"That sort of turned into a metaphor for our show about getting it all off your chest and how pump and dump is always associated with moms having a drink, and we just felt like moms just needed a break to get out of the house, get away from their children for a minute, get together with other moms, and laugh at all the things that are ridiculous and messed up about parenting," Tee says. "Especially as a new mom, it's easy to get sucked into taking everything so seriously and being so terrified that you're messing everything up and second-guessing all of your decisions."
Tee says the show is about sucking the seriousness out of being parents.
"The premise of our show is really for us to be the jerks and say the things onstage you say in your head when you're in the thick of it with your children," Tee says. "So you can laugh at it and go back to being a great mom again."
The Pump and Dump Show started as a late-night talk show but morphed into a musical, interactive comedy concept with games, interviews
"It's not really about us and our kids," Ferm says. "It's about all these things that moms have in common. We're kind of the opposite of moms and martinis. We try to keep it raw and real and interactive."
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Tee says each show features stories from the audience about the "most fucked up thing my kid ever did" jotted on notecards. The pair collected more than 20,000 cards with things such as, "My son tried to flush his little sister down the toilet when she was 2 months old! Said 'she needs to go back to hell!'" and "My 3-year-old casually asked 'Who's that man?' as he stared into the abyss. There was no man." They compiled the best of them on their Instagram page and for a new book called Parentally Incorrect.
"The stories alone just make you feel like, 'OK, someone's kid is way more fucked up than mine," Tee says. "One of our most popular songs is 'Eat Your Fucking Food,' and it's just about how hard it is to get your kids to eat, and I think that's the thing you would never say to your children, but to have Shayna sing it onstage and laugh about how difficult it is and having food thrown in your face."
Tee says that finding a release from the more hectic parts of dealing with children makes it more rewarding.
"We get a lot of teachers who come out," she says. "We get a lot of labor and delivery nurses, a lot of people who are in the baby industry who come to our show in huge groups. We try to touch on those universal themes of what it's like to deal with children on a day-to-day basis. It's super relatable. It's obviously geared to moms and mostly by two moms, but if you've ever known a kid, you're definitely going to laugh at a lot of stuff."