In this amazing community of South Slope Pediatrics families, we are honored to know so many who are accomplished in the arts and performance. One such SSP mother is Dava Krause, a stand-up comedian and writer who speaks of the raw truths of motherhood, including the shift and loss of identity.
SSP: Your list of accomplishments as a comedian is expansive, from writing to producing, to voice over work, to stand up, musical comedy, and acting as a regular in TV shows. How do you balance all of this and being a mom to 2 young children?
When I first had my daughter Delaney I definitely went into shock at the lack of time that I had. I formed a writing group immediately through Park Slope Parents and 10 weeks postpartum began meeting regularly with a group of four or five other parents who are also trying to carve out time to write stuff. Once my daughter was sort of sleeping through the night and my body realized I wasn’t getting up every 3 hours with her (around two years old), I started to do comedy again at night but then I was trying to get pregnant again...suffered two miscarriages and it really set me back emotionally. It was hard for me to give myself permission to take that time to heal before I forced myself to go back out again. And then I sort of realized that for the time being, I would need to focus on my writing and put performing aside for a bit. And that was hard for me to live with.
SSP: What is like being a mom in comedy?
Right now? It’s great. A lot of my contemporaries who have decided to have kids realize that motherhood is an important part of their identity and talk about it in their act. I feel for a long time that women in any field had to hide the fact that they were moms or at least keep it separate from their professional lives. Or it was an unspoken rule that if you were a professional and wanted to have kids that it was *fine* but it should NEVER get in the way of doing your job. Or if it did get in the way that it would make you a less serious professional. Or people just assumed they knew you had kids that you weren’t as ‘dedicated’ to your job, which is garbage - especially for me who went to an all girls school, which was very pro-women in the workplace and that sort of feminism that's all about ‘we can do whatever men can do’. But I think with the pandemic and lots of people working from home, that there’s going to be a huge shift - or hopefully there will be a shift - in the way people view ‘working’ in this country. Who you are at home and who you are at work both exist within a person simultaneously, and it’s hard to split those two identities up in regular times - but especially when your kids are sitting next to you on a zoom call. Hopefully people start to understand that just because you’re a parent and you prioritize time with your family that it doesn’t mean you’re going to do a job any less efficiently than someone who doesn't have kids. In fact, working parents are the most efficient people I know. When you have an hour to get something done you put your head down and you do it. If you have two hours to do the same task there’s a lot more time to d*ck around.
SSP: Who are the women or men in comedy or in life who inspired and influenced you?
My peers. When I first started out in comedy in Los Angeles there’s a group of us ladies that would get together and do open mics every single night. It’s the same thing as when I formed that writing group when my older daughter was first born. Those are the folks that were doing the work just like I was while trying to be a parent. That group and my mom group and all the comedians and writers who I am privileged to call my friends - they were and are my inspiration.
SSP: What would you say is your style of comedy, for those who are not familiar? Is the material fictional or more heavily based on truths?
My comedy is heavily based on truths. It’s based on sarcasm and self deprecation. Always has, always will.
SSP: Are many of your stories now shifting to realities of being a mom, in the pandemic?
I haven’t created anything that has anything to do with the pandemic because quite frankly I’m living in a pandemic while also trying to guide my kids through a pandemic. That in itself is too much and to be honest I have been living every single day in crisis since March. But my most recent project(s) are all about being a mom because I’m still quite not over the complete and utter identity shift that happened when I became a mother almost 5 years ago... like I say in my pilot ‘Baby Steps’, motherhood did my identity what I did to my vagina. Ripped it to pieces and as I’m putting it back together again it’s not quite the same. Is that too raw for the South Slope Pediatrics audience?
SSP: The loss of identity in motherhood is universal to all new moms. Can you tell us about your most recent project, “Baby Steps” and how you address that?
I think the total utter destruction of my identity when I became a mother was a complete shock to me and I’m still working through it. ‘Baby Steps’ is all about who you think you’re going to be as a parent before you become a parent and how it all goes out the window after you become an actual parent. For example, the character I play, Nell, who is obviously based on me, believes that as soon as she has a kid she’s going to go right back to work and not miss a beat. And for some women that may be how it is and that’s 100% fine. But for me, like I said, I just couldn’t bring myself to do comedy anymore. And when your entire identity is built on the fact that you’re a career minded person and that you’re going to stop at nothing to become the best at what you do and then that desire is ripped from you completely - it can be devastating, disorienting and utterly depressing. And the impulse is to try to figure out what that means and who you’re going to be now. But Nell starts to figure out, like I did, that she’s not gonna know who she is right away and that she’s going to have to discover herself all over again in baby steps. And a large part of how she’s going to do that is with the support of this new mom group that she forms. Because it takes a village to raise a child and part of that is allowing parents time and room to grow into who they will become as well. And I mean all parents. Because I think for a long time society and gender norms have expected people who identify as men to not feel like they should want to spend time with their kids, or take time to settle into their new identity as parents as much as people who identify as women. But that’s not the case or at least I don’t think it should be. Becoming a parent is a major f**king thing whether you’re a man or a woman or identify as either or neither. Humans should have the time and space to bond with their babies and figure out who they will be as parents and people.
SSP: What are you currently working on and how can our readers see more of your work?
Right now I’m working on a podcast with a fellow mom comedian and writer. I can’t say too much about it but it’s a continuation of the themes that I’ve spoken about with a fun little twist. The best place to get news about this and other stuff would be on my Instagram : @davakrause.
Thank you for having me! I love Dr Cao and Matteo and everyone at South Slope Pediatrics! You are part of my village and I am eternally grateful for all of you!