Denver moms Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee aren’t afraid to talk about the real, dirty, hilarious, imperfect side of motherhood. And they do it on stage…in front of an audience of moms who are in desperate need of a release from the nonstop demands of their days.
Six years ago, while in the throes of new motherhood, Shayna and Tracey gave birth to a new idea. They knew that moms could use a night out of the house to be with other moms and just laugh. So the childhood friends, who both have acting backgrounds, developed a comedy show to put on in a local Denver bar. The Pump and Dump Show soon had a following and moved to larger venues around town.
The show features comedy, games, group commiseration, and brilliant original songs that perfectly capture the emotion of motherhood like “Eat Your F-ing Food.” Another wildly popular portion of the show asks moms in the audience to write on a notecard the craziest, most exasperating, basically effed-up things their children have done. Shayna and Tracey then read the stories out loud in the totally judgement-free zone. The stories were just too good, and the laughs too healing, not to share them, so they compiled their favorites in a book out this spring called, Parentally Incorrect: True Tales By Real Moms About the F**cked Up Things Their Kids Have Done.
The Pump and Dump Show also hit the road this spring for a national tour, with a special Mother’s Day Eve show in Denver on May 12. We caught up with Shayna and Tracey to dish about the show, the new book, and their dream Mother’s Day.
Colorado Parent: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We’ll pump out some questions and you can dump us some answers. Deal? Where did this idea for The Pump and Dump Show come from?
Shayna and Tracey: We created The Pump and Dump Show when our children were just born and we were drowning in the chaos of new parenthood – diapers, spit up, pumping, paranoia, sleeplessness. We needed a night out and felt like other moms did too. We both have backgrounds as writers and performers, so we put together the very first show in a bar in Northwest Denver called Local 46 and gave moms a few hours out of their houses, for once, to have some cocktails and laugh about how ridiculous parenting is. By the second show, moms were coming in groups of 10 or 12. We knew we were on to something that was needed in the mom community.
CP: Why do you think the show has become so popular?
S and T: As the show has evolved, and we have evolved as parents, our message has become clearer and clearer. We tell moms that they are awesome. And we tell them it’s okay to not be perfect and that it’s okay to feel like it’s hard because raising human beings is hard! Yes, the event itself is super fun and really funny and people certainly connect with the humor and the music, but they also get to be in a room full of other women, laughing about all the things we have in common (no matter what kind of mom you are), and that’s validating. Parenting can be so isolating, so we provide a space where you are literally surrounded by your Band of Mothers. It’s very powerful.
There’s a new book!
CP: This book! I’ve been reading Parentally Incorrect on my morning commute and I think people are starting to stare as I laugh-cry. What made you decide to compile all these stories into a book?
S and T: Believe it or not, we have been collecting those cards since our very first show five and a half years ago! We knew early on that those stories needed to be in a book, so it kind of wrote itself and Parentally Incorrect was born. You just can’t make some of that stuff up. We had tens of thousands of cards to read through and categories and that was no easy feat. There are just so many good ones.
CP: What is a favorite story from the book for each of you?
Shayna: I really love when kids say totally random, messed up things, like the girl that wanted to ask Santa for “Boobs and butler” for Christmas.
Tracey: Maybe it’s because my kid had an imaginary kid for so long, but I love the stories when a child says or talks about another “person” who is not there…like the story where the mom says her child “likes to play trains with Pop Pop” and Pop Pop has been dead for five years.
The Mother’s Day Eve Show…
CP: So, you’ll be in Denver on Mother’s Day Eve…on Christmas Eve we hang stockings and put out milk and cookies in anticipation of all the presents. What happens on Mother’s Day Eve?
S and T: Why, our show at The Paramount, of course! Not only do moms get to enjoy an entertaining and hilarious show that laughs about how f-ed up and ridiculous mom life can be, but they also get to DANCE IT OUT together, because don’t moms just really want to have a dance party with other moms? But the best part of going out and celebrating on Mother’s Day Eve is that someone else has to get up with the kids on Sunday for you – I mean, it’s Mother’s Day!
CP: What is your dream Mother’s Day?
Shayna: Sleep. Coffee brought to me in bed. Snuggling. Delicious food.
Tracey: A force field where no one can touch me when I’m moving around the house.
CP: If this is a mom’s first Pump and Dump show, what can she expect?
S and T: The Mother’s Day Eve Show is certainly a big introduction to us. She should probably expect a hangover. Haha. A first time Pump and Dump-er can expect to be surprised at feeling the freedom to laugh about all the things she probably has thought to herself, but never had the chance to say out loud. She can expect to see a sea of moms, all laughing and relating to the same problems she’s been going through, and she can expect to walk out of the show not feeling so alone. She might walk in feeling a little defeated and of course exhausted, but she’s gonna walk out knowing she’s part of a Band of Mothers.
CP: Is there anything different for moms who have been before?
S and T: We really try to elevate the Mother’s Day Eve show because Denver is our home city and there are lots of moms who have seen the show throughout the years so we try to give them an extra special version of it.
This year’s show is sponsored by Awestruck who will be giving a free gift to everyone. We have unbelievable grand prizes that we’ll be giving away from amazing companies like Sarah O. Jewelry (from Denver), Venice Child, Awestruck, and more. We have the return of our full band who we call The MTHRFKRS – our affectionate term for dads — to back up some of the music, very special talented mom guests, a pre-show “Let’s Make a Deal”-style game show hosted by amazing comedian (and mom) Debbie Scheer, and the post-show Dance Party will be DJ’d by rockstar DJillE in the upstairs bar at the Paramount. It’s an epic event and this is our sixth year so we are always trying to up the ante.
CP: All joking aside, have you ever heard from #Breeders in the #BandofMothers who have been changed by the show?
S and T: All. The. Time. We are so grateful for the responses we get from the show. You wouldn’t believe how many moms go to The Pump and Dump for their first night out in years. There are so many moms out there, across the country, who feel alone and like they’re doing it all wrong, but after coming to a Pump and Dump Show, they feel completely re-set and encouraged. We hear it all the time and it never gets old.
Whenever we feel like all the traveling and the hard work and the creative pressure is taking a toll on us as working moms, we do another show and realize exactly why we do it — because of the amazing moms we get to meet and all their appreciation. We have the best job in the world.
CP: What’s next for the Pump and Dump duo?
S and T: We have a few dates left on this Winter/Spring part of our “2018 Parentally Incorrect” tour and will pick it back up to more cities in the fall. As well as continuing to promote the book, we have a new web series on Awestruck called “Moms Gone Live with The Pump and Dump” which has already posted six episodes, with more to come. So we definitely keep busy. We’re always up to something.
Mother’s Day Eve with The Pump and Dump Show is Saturday, May 12 at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre. Follow Shayna and Tracey for updates on The Pump and Dump live shows, “Moms Gone Live” web series, and more.