With a swaddled baby in her arms, the desperate
woman asked Peggy Ward if it would be OK to bring a newborn to her
"I'm a new stay-at-home mom and I had to get out of the
house," Ward says the woman told her. After the show, the young mom
told her: "You just performed my life on stage. I'm not alone and
I'm not crazy."
Ward wrote "Mamaphobia," a one-woman show that finds humor
in the everyday struggles of motherhood, shortly after she became a
stay-at-home mom herself. Like Seinfeld creator Larry David, Ward
based her show on shared experiences.
Growing up in Wilmette, one of seven children, she honed
her comedic skills at the dinner table. "You had to be witty,
interesting and fast or they would move on," she says. Before she
became a mom, Ward worked as an advertising copywriter and did
She first performed "Mamaphobia" in 2003 at Chicago's Old
Town School of Folk Music. It grew wildly popular and landed at the
Apollo Theater, where she performed three times a week for 17
weeks. But the time away from her husband John, a special education
teacher, and their three young children became increasingly
For many years, Ward opened and closed the show. Last
Mother's Day, she revived it at the Laughing Chameleon in Glenview
with the intention of moving it forward. The original one-woman
show now has three actors performing various roles.
Ward was at work on "Mamaphobia 2: The School Years" when
Chicago Parent spoke with her about the show.
Why does "Mamaphobia" resonate with
audiences? As mothers, oftentimes we feel
like we're failing and other moms are doing it right. When you see
a comedy about motherhood that is really honest and
self-deprecating, it's like, OK, that mom understands.
What do men like about the show?
They see the woman on stage calling her husband at work to
ask if she should buy the ugly Halloween costume at Target and they
feel less alone because they're fielding these phone calls from
What happens when the curtain comes
down? People linger and start sharing things
they may not have shared. They feel a connection to someone who
lost their kid at the water park.
What surprised you most about being a
mom? I didn't know how much angst I was going
to feel when they're not happy. I didn't realize what an extension
that children are of us.
What makes you laugh? When
people act too seriously about life. Humor is never funny-driven.
It's stressed-out-driven. When you take a step back from it, it's
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