Want to hear something funny? Go find a comedian. How about 3! 3 Blonde Moms are rolling into Marin with their hilarious hit comedy show called "3 Blonde Moms....See How They Run!" I sat down with Joanie Fagan, the Bossy Mom, creator and producer of the show to see how these 3 friends with their own successful comedy careers came together. They perform on Sept. 18 at 8pm at the Throckmorton Theatre.
Q. Hit me (but not too hard please) with a pitch on your upcoming show? Give me a brief me on each of the 3 Blonde Moms?
Joanie Fagan: We are 3 unlikely friends that live in The Valley but this last month both Beaumont Bacon and Donna Cherry hubbies are now employed on the east coast but we are still a trio. The 3 of us are so distinctly different that none of our material overlaps.
- I am perky mom. That Martha Stewart wannabe but I fall short of being perfect or being Martha Stewart. I’m always one craft away from snapping. I think I’m perfect but I’ll walk out of the house with a velcro roller on the back of my head.
- Beaumont is the feisty mom. She tells it like it is. Beaumont is a 5ft. whipper snapper from Texas and it doesn’t get any feistier then that. She is in a different phase of her life. Her children are older and she’s re-learning how to date her husband again. Reentering that phase of her life she is so use to bossing people around she says to her husband at the movies “Get me some popcorn! Oh, I mean, I love you!”
- Donna is the hot momma. Always perfect with her make-up and heals. Donna actually is a former Ms. California, a Juliard trained singer, use to open for Barry Manalow and does these amazing singing impressions of famous moms. She is very girlie, loves pink and has 2 boys 7 & 17 so she has great boy jokes.
Q. How is juggling motherhood and a career working out for you?
All things go back to being a good mom. I am lucky because I get to work in spurts. 3 Blonde Moms performs 1-2 times a month and then I am a stay-at-home mom 90% of the time. The kids get to travel with us to really cool places like Washington DC and San Francisco. Half of the time we perform, we donate the show for charity. One year I donated the show to Save the Tata’s which was on the Royal Caribbean in the Bahamas. It a great balance. I am home most of the time, I make an income for the family, I get to make other families happy and my 13 year old daughter will not let me leave the house in sweats. I love what I do. I meet women who haven’t been out in so long and it’s so therapeutic. They laugh so hard they cry, it’s like a release. Laugher heals. Laughter is jogging on the inside. At the end of a 90 minute show people say "I feel better, lighter, refreshed, I can start the new day." We forget how important laughing
Q. My 10 year old daughter says she wants to be a paleontologist and a comedian. Were you a funny kid? What advice would you give to a kid who wants to be a comedian?
Yes, I was funny kid. I took a lot of acting, drama and improv classes. I was at Harvey Lembecks Comedy Workshop for six years and then I joined The Groundlings. I suggest as soon as your daughter can, join an improv class. You learn timing and find out what you are funny at. Some people are funny writers, some are funny characters, some are physically funny, some people just stand there and have such a dry wit. Get her into acting or improv classes as soon as she can so she can start exercising that muscle. And also she should still focus on paleontology and keep going in that direction. I have a journalism degree from USC and it was something I could always fall back on and I use it now when I write press releases. You can’t be diverse enough. The more you have in life, the more you can talk about it and reflect it on stage. Her interest is so fascinating and specific that her talking about that or relating it to life and tying it all together is very unique.
Q. Who did you admire or influenced you to become a stand up?
Sadly we lost Joan Rivers and Robin Williams so recently. Both of those people have had a thread through my life as either motivators or people I looked up to. And then I met Robin twice at the Throckmorton Theatre which was amazing to me because I’m also an actor and he’s been able to successfully live in both worlds. He was just so nice. Joan Rivers always said “Stand up comedy is a calling” because it’s so odd that we would want to go on stage and tell jokes to people and make them laugh. It’s so hard at the beginning when you don’t have enough material but it is a calling.
Q. How do you envision 3 Blonde Moms in the future?
3 Blonde Moms has been a live stage show for 12 years. And I do other things, I have a vod-cast (video podcast) called The Joanie Show. I did 10 episodes for the Jon Lovitz Podcast Theatre - I LOVED IT. I finally got to use my journalism degree and interview great people. It was a lot of fun. The thing I want to do next is go into movies. "The Adventures of the 3 Blonde Moms" because we are so different from each other - we can take adventures to Vegas or go camping. Like the Vacation movies but more PG and showcase the things we naturally go through. I envision one of the moms would only communicate with her kids through texting back and forth - we never see the kids just their hands. Moms are just amazing!
Q. What do your spouses and kids think of your act? What compromises have you had to make? Is there territory that they ask you not to talk about?
The spouses are cool with it. Actually, we don’t talk about them much. I know a lot of comics are more "male bashing." We talk about ourselves and how we fit into the world. The in-laws, you have to explain, I might say a thing or 2 but it’s done in the best of ways. For instance, my husbands 4 sister all came to my wedding pregnant and they were all bridesmaids. We had to keep adding panels to their dresses. So I just line them up in order of trimester. They got progressively larger as they walked down the aisle. It was ok, I came down feeling “Oh, look how fit I am." Its all in fun - they’re ok about it.
The kids we talk about them sometimes. For instance, with my 13 year old, I can only shop at certain stores like Brandy Melville. On the door it says one size fits all. So, I
walked up to the counter and said to the clerk, "One size fits all?" And he looked at me up and down and he says "Well, not all." I thought, Hmph! I think I’ll go try on all your stretchy clothes NOW. Things happen - we’re kind of talking about the kids but in the friendliest of ways and experiences we go through. They love that we make people laugh.
Q. You each had successful careers in show business. What made you realize you wanted to collaborate together and create a stand up routine? When did you get that ah ha moment?
I birthed my child and a couple of years later I birthed the show. When I did stand up while I was pregnant and talking about my experiences about anticipating being a mom, people listened. I realized it’s so interesting and no one is talking about that. Then when I had my daughter I was talking about being a mom. People were leaning in, nodding their head and relating to what I was talking about. Before that, my material might have been funny but it wasn’t relatable or real until I became a mom. I thought, I’m perky and blonde so wouldn’t would be really funny to have 3 totally different moms on stage? The title came from the nursery rhyme “3 Blind Mice" but said “3 Blonde Moms...See How They Run” and the title clicked. Diversity on the stage just took off. We were selling out shows in advance. My favorite part is meeting other moms with the same experiences. I found a niche that’s underrepresent.
Q. How old are your kids? Who has the funniest kid and why?
We all have funny kids in their own way. Beaumont has 2 girls 10 & 15 and the whole family is funny. Donna's 7 year old wants to be Indiana Jones and runs around with a hat and whip and her 17 year old is funny. My 13 year old daughter is funny. She makes me laugh all the time. Years ago, I walked into a room and turned on the light and my daughter said, “No, no mommy. You look so much better in the dark.” And I looked at her and said “Aw, thank you honey." It was so adorable.
Q. So, do you write your own routines or do your kids?
Ha, we all write our own material. From the beginning, I talk about how different we are, how different our husbands, kids, background, etc. By the time we go one stage together it’s like you already know us.
Q. Did your parents support your dreams? Is "funny" in your genetic make up?
When I was growing I took acting classes. My dad is a lawyer and he thought I’d grow out of it. I never did. So he said, well, just go to college and get a degree and then you can do that as your minor. So I did. I went to college in journalism but minored in theater and went to improv classes. It was my path all along. When I was little, I was always performing so my parents eventually thought she is actually good and motivated and they did get behind me. I have a head for business and I’m creative. Just the fact that I was creating this whole act on my own my parents always said they are so proud of me. They have come to every show that is close by in LA. Sadly, my mom passed away last year. My dad is 86, still practices law, still comes to shows, and still couldn’t be more proud.
Q. They say "if you don't ask you don't get.” Of course, you need talent too. What lengths have you gone through to go after what you want and standing up for yourself?
You can listen to “no" all day long but I carved my own path, and we fill these rooms and get repeat audiences who want to hear from us. As Joan Rivers said, that is where "the calling comes" in. It’s almost an undeniable course that we are set on because it can be challenging and difficult and there is sexism and ageism. It’s better now but luckily I created 3 Blonde Moms out of thin air and we are all out there and the audience proves we, and all other moms, have something important to talk about, that's relatable and significant. The proof is in the actual results so I don’t have to pay attention to all that stuff luckily.
Q. Funniest person ever - past and present?
I was immersed in comedy since I was a baby. Growing up, Carol Burnett and her whole cast, Tim Conway and Harvey Corman, made me laugh so hard. When I started doing stand-up, one night at the Improv, Tim and Harvey were hosting and they brought me on stage. I was speechless. Beaumont is one of the funniest people I've ever met. Robin Williams was one of my most favorite as both an actor and comic. Joan Rivers, I saw her as a teenager in the Catskills and fell out of my chair laughing so hard. Watching her on E as the fashion police was so funny. She forged the path for women. There weren’t many women doing stand up when I started. I was just behind Kathy Griffin, Rosie, and Ellen who are all great. People on Saturday Night Live - off and on, Gilda Radner when I was in college. I always loved Peter Sellers. Current comedians, so many - Kathy Griffin still makes me laugh, she is unique with her own way, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Martin, Jamie Fox, just so many.
Q. Parenthood is already a stand up act on a good day. What recommendations do you have to other moms and dads out there who want to consider stand up or writing humor especially about parenthood?
Just write, especially in the beginning. I wrote down everything. I always had a pad or paper and pen ready to write. If it is funny to you, it’s probably funny to other people. The next step is get on stage and start doing it. There are open mic nights where you can try it out for 5 minutes and even if they don’t laugh eventually you’ll find your rhythm where you’ll fine-tune your punchlines and figure out new material, get rid of what doesn’t work and keep what does. It’s a whole process. I teach at the San Francisco Comedy College a couple times a year. It’s a great place. I love teaching comedy because l love what I do so much and I can share it with other people. Almost anyone can be funny, and if you have a passion for it, you just need a little guidance.
Q. Stand-up comics write "savers," funny comebacks for the things that can go wrong. Envision yourself on stage and various scenarios are bound to happen. What is the first thing that comes to your head when I say:
- Hecklers? Drunk - usually in theaters they don’t heckle although you’ll occasionally hear a mom say "Right On!" In comedy clubs they serve alcohol and shows are later, so heckling happens all the time. Sometimes it’s funny or can be a minefield. Your instinct has to say to I want to participate or is this a sinking ship. Sometimes it can be funny banter and I learn from it. I have a bit about being past puma and past cougar and I thought, what would be funny past cougar and I thought badger. But someone yelled out saber tooth - that was funny.
- Bombing a joke? (i.e. they don’t laugh) Awkward
- Offending an audience member? More awkward
The show must go on. At the end of the day and we’re professionals. Like yesterday, we found out about Joan Rivers passing but there were comedians booked and they were so sad about her passing but Joan Rivers, above of, would want us to go on stage and be funny. The last thing Joan and Robin would want is for anyone to be sad.
Q. Where else will you all be performing while you are here?
Beside our performance on September 18th, 8pm, I will also be at The Mark Pitta Show at the Throckmorton Theatre on Tuesday September 16th. Beaumont Bacon does the spicier version of her act Friday and Saturday at The Legendary Purple Onion in San Francisco (where Joan Rivers spent a year perfecting her act.) Use code word "blonde" and get $2 off.
Q. Finish this sentence - The best thing about being a comedian is.....?
Free therapy, I get to go on stage and talk about what ever I want and I have a captive audience.
Q. What does being a comedian mean to you?
Aw, sweet question because of losing 2 of my comic heroes. I feel like I have the ability and gift to bring laughter and joy and we need that so much that I am grateful I can do that.
Q. Are you going to write a joke about this conversation?
I don’t have any jokes but I did have a lot of laughter in the conversation.
Aw, thank you Joanie!