Comic Stripped: Toronto comics behind the dawn of mom-com shows


Catherine Reitman, daughter of Ivan Reitman, has an upcoming CBC mom-com

­Imagine you’re a mother of a newborn — stressed out, sleep deprived, dulled by the monotony of feed, burp, change, repeat. Maybe your body seems like a foreign object, and there is no time for anything you once enjoyed.

Long story short, you really need a good laugh.

But where do you find it? You’re so far down the baby hole that sketches on Saturday Night Live seem irrelevant. Movies? Who has time for that?

You’d like to laugh about what’s happening to you right now, but it’s nowhere to be found. Except on the Internet.

I’d call comedy about motherhood, or “mom-com,” a microdemographic, except it’s not micro at all when babies are born by the millions. And creative types are catching up to the trend.

There’s some choice laughs for new moms, and much of it is coming from right here in Canada.

Let’s praise the CBC and their new Internet comedy portal, Punchline, for developing and backing Newborn Moms, a web series from local sketch comics Aurora Browne and Nadine Djoury. Browne is a Second City alum who appeared on four seasons of CTV’s Comedy Inc. and won a Canadian Comedy Award for best comedy improviser. Djoury also has a Second City background and is part of the award-winning sketch troupe the Weaker Vessels.

The two play best friends and  recent mothers who bond and commiserate over their new life-changing situation.

I’m probably not the target audience for the show, but I could feel the magic in the episodes. They’re short — perfect for the mom on the run trying to squeeze in a little “me” time — and smartly written. I laughed out loud at some of the bits, including the visit from the lactation consultant who turns out to be a very hunky dude.

Another episode is played out entirely on Skype as the two friends breastfeed and gossip, which, like many of the episodes, felt current and attuned to the way technology has affected motherhood. The series won the Just For Laughs Pitch Program competition, and it is easy to see why. The writing and performances are crisp, the material is fresh, and it even looks good.

The series is far from the only source of mom-com on the net. Surf around and you’ll find a lot of funny stuff. I really laughed at a blog called Honest Toddler, written by a Quebec mommy named Bunmi Laditan. The idea is to imagine what toddlers might say if they were as articulate as any adult. (The gimmick was used long ago in the Look Who’s Talking movies.) 

The writing is hysterical, and the “toddler” never breaks character. It started as a Twitter feed, became a blog, then a book. It has garnered attention on CNN and Huffington Post.

Meanwhile CBC has announced production on a new TV sitcom starring Catherine Reitman, daughter of Ivan Reitman, called Workin’ Moms. The show will focus on the comic foibles of women who are new to motherhood but want it all. It premieres next fall. Notice a trend?

Someone once said that parenthood means the end of a sense of humour. Not so, and the recent proliferation of mom-com may prove exactly the opposite.

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Post City Magazines’ humour columnist, Mark Breslin, is the founder of Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs and the author of several books, including Control Freaked.

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