“Before kids, the mood would need to be perfect—good lighting, clean desk, nice drink. Basically, I’d romance the creative process.” Featured Artist: Jessica Besser-Rosenberg

Once again, thank god for the comedian moms. In preparation for this week’s positing I dug into some of our featured mother’s recaps of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Blake came out from his quarantine office (our bedroom) to ask what I was cackling about. It was this: “There’s nothing left to do now other than head to Kyle’s bar and throw back shot after shot of Fireball. At one point, Dorit declares that it’s a nice digestif, which is true if you use digestifs to shit out your organs.” Anyway. I am so very delighted to have Jessica Besser-Rosenberg on the blog this week. Hailing from Canada, Jessica is a Chicago-based writer and standup. She is a co-producer of the Backroom Comedy Showcase at aliveOne and a co-host of Living Room Sessions mic. Her work has been featured in the RedEye, MockMoms, The Belladonna Comedy, HEAUXS, The Second City Network, and the iO Comedy Network. She is a proud volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. If you need your own cackle, definitely check her out.

Could you explain what your creative practice is like?

I am a stand-up comic and writer when I’m not working full-time and running after two little kids.  I derive profound joy in writing weekly Real Housewives recaps for HEAUXS, an online pop culture mag. 

What are important motherhood contexts people should know about you?

My spouse is Catholic and I’m Jewish…a very common pairing! But we’re muddling through raising our kids interfaith. I welcome any and all advice.

How has the practice of your creative life changed since motherhood?

I work full-time and have two young kids (five years old and 18 months) so my creative practice has dramatically shifted over the last few years. I used to set aside whole evenings or weekends to write. Before kids, the mood would need to be perfect – good lighting, clean desk, nice drink. Basically, I’d romance the creative process. Now, if I can carve out 20 quiet minutes a week, I try to brain dump every idea I’ve had (which mostly come to me while waiting in line at my local Aldi) into bullet points that make up a facsimile of a joke. I run through a few iterations in my bathroom mirror, often with my five-year-old looking on disapprovingly. Then I write down the drafted joke, read it aloud, write it again, rinse, repeat. I used to get to open mics three times per week, but that’s not my reality anymore. I’m fortunate to co-produce an open mic and a monthly showcase with a group of incredible women. Both of these provide me space to work out new material. I still try to get to the occasional open mic but if I do, they’re mics that allow me to sign up in advance so I know I’m not waiting around until 1:00 am when I’ve got to be up with two hyperactive kids at 6:00 am. 

What has been most challenging about sustaining a creative life in motherhood?

My answer is hackneyed: Exhaustion. Yes, I work and that can be tiring but I also do a ton of unpaid emotional labor and that shit is DEPLETING. My spouse contributes a lot, and will probably resent me for writing this, but there are some things that I have yet to see a dude do in any hetero-normative relationship: Thank you cards, RSVPs for birthdays, responding to emails from teachers. I do all of that and that shit DOES NOT FULFILL ME. It takes and gives nothing back. So, after all that, do I want to sit down and free write jokes for an hour when I could be checking in on the affairs of Countess Luann de Lesseps on the Real Housewives of New York? Not exactly. 

What’s been the best surprise about having a creative life in motherhood?

Since having kids, the world is way more serious to me. When you suddenly become responsible for the health and safety of two little humans, everything is more critical, rawer. I can’t turn off the part of my brain that’s like ‘that could have been my child.’ On the flip side, it’s opened me up and made me much more empathetic. I think that’s helped broaden and deepen my writing. I have more to say. Do I still have a two-minute set on giving my doctor a poop sample? Sure. But I also write about working to combat gun violence (I swear to god it’s funny) and about raising my children interfaith. 

What’s been the your most important source of inspiration to continue having a creative life as a mother?

Other comedian mothers. Though there are more of us than there once were, I’ll still be on shows with a group of 25-year-old single dudes with no kids and then me. It can be a little lonely. So, when I get to work with other moms, it feeds my soul. Plus, they’re super open to looking at my C-section scars. 

Which artist-mothers inspire you?

Oh gosh, all of the funny moms out here doing the damn thing. Locally, Colleen Brennan, Maya May(recently moved to LA), Adrienne  Gunn, Eunji Kim, Lia Berman, Kat Herskovic, Kelley Howard, I know I’m missing so many, but them too! Beyond Chicago, the creators and cast of Workin’ Moms; Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider (amazing actresses, comedians, BravoTV podcasters, mothers), and Elizabeth Warren.

You can follow Jessica and learn more about her work here: 

Twitter: @JessGBR

HEAUXS (for those juicy RHOBH recaps! Get your cackle on.)

Instagram: @jessicagbr

HEAUXS (for those juicy RHOBH recaps! Get your cackle on.)

Instagram: @jessicagbr

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