Laughing through Tears: ‘Cry Baby: My (reluctant) Journey into Motherhood’
by April Stamm
Motherhood is no f-ing joke. And comic Jamie Aderski will be the first to agree with me on that. Terrible stuff happens when you carry, birth, and try to raise a baby; vividly gross, heart-breaking, explosively painful, and exhausting stuff. In her one-woman show, Cry Baby: My (reluctant) Journey into Motherhood, Jamie Aderski takes us through all of it, in minute detail.
In her self-written solo show about her own pregnancy, birth, and first 11 months of motherhood, Aderski breaks it down pretty clearly into three parts. Part I (aptly titled “You’re F*cked”) includes visual aids by way of a large notebook on an easel and some audience shout out participation as she takes us the through the horrors that befall a woman’s body during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. Of course, she goes over the common knowledge catastrophes most likely familiar even to the layman, that pregnancy makes you blow up like a balloon, birthing a five- to nine-pound human being out of a tiny hole can hurt just a little bit, and that babies cry a lot. Then she delves into the lesser-known (unless you’ve done it) disasters like that your hair, once made uber thick and shiny by pregnancy, falls out in literal clumps after birth. Part I concludes as Aderski takes us through the actual process of birth in all of its frightening and rippingly painful glory framed in a film noir motif.
On to Part Two: “This is Not a Game.” Through this portion of the evening, we actually do play a game, an audience member is called up, a baby doll is handed out, a basket of soothers given including your standard pacifier, bottle, and some more bewildering (to the non-stroller wielding set) items like a Nose Frida (parent favorite used to literally suck babies boogers out with a tube you put in your own actual mouth) and the ever popular fart whistle… then a timer is put on and said audience member gets to “sooth” the baby.
Part III, “Aftermath,” starts with a slightly awkward, but truthful and connectable story about Aderski’s relationship with her own mother and her scarred view of what she would be like as a mother. The section ends with a somewhat random yet heartfelt collection of thoughts, small stories, shout out’s to “mom’s groups,” claims that moms can and do remain “themselves” post motherhood, all to the tune of marathon wine drinking.
It all it works… for a subset of the population. Cry Baby feels a bit like it’s preaching to the choir. If you happen to be a mom (and to some degree a dad) and are in on nature’s sickest joke and most beautiful miracle, there are lots of moments to connect with in Aderski’s cautionary tale of copious bodily fluids, unending physical pain, love, and disillusionment all wrapped up in an adorable screaming little package. Some moments feel self-indulgent and even sad on a plane beyond the comic parameters of harsh reality for the sake of funny. Other moments tend towards forced (the film noir bit in Part I could be smoother with less physical movement and a little editing).
At its best, though, Aderski’s piece is personal and honest, which does strike a humorous chord, as so many of the hardest things in life can be if you just take a step back and see the funny through the pain.
Cry Baby: My (reluctant) Journey into Motherhood
Written and Performed by Jamie Aderski
The People’s Improv Theater
123 E. 24th Street, NYC
March 10, 7 p.m.
March 31, 7 p.m.
April Stamm is a freelance theater, food, and lifestyle journalist. She is a regular contributor to Edge Media Network and is a Chef Instructor at the International Culinary Center.