Comedian Christine Meehan-Berg combined the two most important parts of her life: Comedy and pregnancy As an experienced comedian and while she was a mother to be, she decided to record her debut comedy album. She was about 126 months pregnant and persevered on the stage to create a hilariously relatable album.
Bumped is a collection of real pregnancy thoughts that borderline cringe-worthy. Yet they're so relatable to women who have seen the ugly side of pregnancy. The album debuted on May 29th through You Lucky Dog Productions and debuted in the top 5 for its category.
We had the opportunity to chat with Christine about the album, her comedy career, and the album. You'll love her brash honesty and relatability. You may also recognize as Miss. Pillows, the Scary Mommy resident breastfeeding expert.
BabyGaga (BG): How did you first get into comedy? What's your comedic style?
Christine Meehan-Berg (CMB): In 2007, I had been selling wine unsuccessfully for a few years, and tending bar on the side at a place called The Raven Lounge in Philadelphia. Due to an overabundance of free alcohol in my apartment around the corner, and many nights listening to comics after their sets at an open mic held at the bar, I had lots of friends. One day while on the road pushing over-priced syrah, I happened to stop at my grandmother's house, who I found near-dead in the attic. I subsequently lost my job, my car broke down on I-95 due to overuse, and I had to shower my grandmother who apparently had developed Alzheimer's.
She could not understand why I kept putting more soap on the washcloth or why her back and legs were so clean. I was not ready to bathe baby bits, let alone those of the lovely 89-year-old woman that had guided me through life. Nearing a nervous breakdown, I went back to the open mic night and told a comic what had happened. He told me, after hearing about my shower story, that I should "stop being a $#@! and get on stage." I did. It was horrible and awful. And completely silent in the room. It was the best/worst pain I'd ever felt. I got off stage and the comics said I had a lot of work to do. I haven't stopped working to make the awful things better since then.
My comedic style? Honest. Aggressive. But, "lovable, oddly enough" as one friend put it. I don't tread lightly like I feel society is pushing comics to be these days. Some days I worry that I'm too raw for some, mostly because young women have asked me to "scale it back" or include "trigger warnings." I refuse to do so, though that requires mucho dinero in therapy to make it happen. I've lived much of my life feeling like I'm wrong. Now I just lean into being exactly that.
BG: How many children do you have? And how has becoming a mom changed your whole career?
CMB: At this point, it is one and done. My family survived my post-partum experience still intact, and that amazes me every day. Unless I can be guaranteed that I won't have to live through that struggle again, I think I'll stick with trying to not screw this one up for now. Before she was born, I thought I had things to say, but I was comparatively lazy about it. I take my career more seriously now, and I have to not suck even if I'm working on something new. I value the time I'm given, and the people that want to work with me, though much of the time, I feel like I'm unraveling. I think showing that to people inside the comedy community, and in the audience for that matter, is more important than it used to be. There's also an unspoken legitimacy that comes with bearing a human. Like I've braved a war zone. My pregnancy was definitely that.
BG: Hormonal mood swings are real during pregnancy. Did you feel like your comedy changed while you were expecting?
CMB: `Ah, the glory of a good old fashioned hormonal imbalance. Look, as women, we are used to the pre-K version of that during puberty and then again when the baby madness starts on March 28th of year 29 on Earth. This is a real statistic. I've been aggressive throughout my career, and I'm mostly unstable, but pregnancy magnified all of that to epic proportions. I don't think it changed; just heightened astronomically. I was the size of a linebacker and used that size to my advantage. Physically out of control, coupled with the uncomfortable hormonal anger we can feel pregnant, made for a fun spectacle. I thank God I had comedy to save me from it momentarily.
BG: What was it like doing and recording a show at 9 months pregnant? Why was this chosen to be your debut album?
CMB: Recording an album nine months pregnant gave me a distraction away from how hard it was for me. I remember watching joyful expectant moms and bubbling with rage. Why was this thing I should have been so elated about making me so miserable? I stared at skinny single women that weren't sweating while sitting in the AC, and I kept thinking, "just make this album so other pissed off preggers won't feel so alone. Also for all women who eat food and have real legs." I sweat through both hour-long sets that night just standing still. Yelling, but standing still. There was a droplet of sweat that I thought could have been my water breaking, but it started at my neck. Your uterus is not in your neck for those that failed anatomy.
Being on stage was the only time my discomfort went away. Like when dirt-bag comedians have strep throat but feel good behind the mic so they put others in danger for a few minutes of relief. It was like that, except the danger was more for the front row if my water actually did break. I forgot to bring the tarps I planned on buying because I was busy agonizing about my feet that looked like scrumptious dinner rolls.
I don't know if anything I do is calculated. This was my debut album because I was ten years into it, and it felt like the right time. I did know my life was already changing so much with the baby in my stomach, and I expected that to snowball even more once she was born. I was already creating way more than I ever had in those ten years, so I felt like a decade was enough time to create something I could be proud of. I also wanted to move on from the old and start again.
BG: What's your favorite album track? How do you come up with your material?
CMB: My favorite track would be Cup And Run because it is so delightfully gross. Every single thing I say, I've gone through. Mostly. Yes.
BG: There have been a few comedy specials done by some heavily pregnant comedians. How does yours differ from any of those?
CMB: What's different? First: I was fatter. So there, Wong! Dude, I did this so close to my due date, I couldn't reach my butt. Second: I will not discount any woman that has done it, but in watching a small fraction of their work (I prefer to not watch too much of other comics' work), I felt like it was hard to relate to given their already established careers and polished outlooks with a ton of money around them. I had been fired for being pregnant; we were struggling hard. I was disgusting and a mess. That needs to be seen because the world is too often showcasing the pretty things instead of the brutally honest ones from peasants.
BG: You appear as Ms. Pillows AKA a breastfeeding expert on Scary Mommy. What is some of the best breastfeeding advice you can share?
CMB: The best advice I can give about breastfeeding is to bite onto a piece of wood if you have flat nipples. And be gentle with yourself. A fed baby is best. Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't doing good enough, especially yourself. We are so mean to ourselves.
BG: You’re married to another comedian. From your experience how are men and women treated differently in this industry? Also, who’s funnier?
CMB: My husband is unfairly funny and works harder than anyone I know. I disagree with the typical argument that it is harder for women than men. It is hard. Period. Funny and hard work pay off regardless of your genitalia. He could never be Miss Pillows. Actually, he could because he likes wearing wigs and dresses. He's funnier in a dress.
BG: Do you use humor in your everyday parenting style? How can we all make parenting more fun?
CMB: I like to over-exaggerate for effect now that she's a toddler with over-exaggerated emotions. If she throws a tantrum, I like to throw myself on the floor wailing alongside of her in solidarity. Sometimes she gets even angrier because she knows I'm mocking her. I think this is important because I do it out of love and insanity. She has the best laugh and I will do anything to hear it.
We can make parenting more fun if we stop thinking that being perfect is attainable. Remember what silly is and be that as often as you can. Shake your naked butt in front of your kid and squirt your breast milk at them to make yourself laugh until you pee. They'll thank you for it. I thanked my mom. Her butt is weird.
BG: Do you have any advice for any fellow working mothers?
Go to therapy. It's so freaking hard.
BG: So what's next for you?
CMB: I'm gonna go make veggie bites in the air fryer, put this poopy diaper in the Diaper Genie that does nothing for the smell anymore, do a free show downtown, work on the next premise about weak people, pick up my husband, pay the babysitter with money I didn't make at the show, thank God while weeping over my sleeping child, and release my new comedy/therapy podcast called In Treatment next week. Then I'll shower.
Thanks so much, Christine! You are hilarious! Thank you for all of your open and honest answers.