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Interview: Carrie McCrossen On Using Sketch Comedy to Address Unrealistic TV Moms (From MILF to Soccer)


Who’s your favorite TV mom? The recently-single mom trying to get back out there? The “cool mom” who wants to connect with her teenage children? The MILF? Carrie McCrossen, inspired by media portrayals of motherhood (and fears of real-life motherhood), put together a sketch show titled “M.I.L.P. (Moms I’d Like to Portray)” where she acts and sings through a generous amount of mom tropeswith some voicemails from her mom in between. “M.I.L.P.” is directed by Hunter Nelson and also includes guest appearances by comedians Eric Gersen and Aaron Jackson.

The show, which I thoroughly enjoyed (and you can still see this week in NYC!), pokes fun at the mom roles we see on-screen but is also a big love letter to some of our favorite matriarchs. I got the opportunity to interview McCrossen, who is not a mom, over email about how she put the sketch show together, her thoughts on Julie Bowen, and her own mom.

Charline (TMS): What inspired you to put M.I.L.P together? Why moms?

Carrie McCrossen: I actually came at ‘Moms’ from a couple different angles. I was surprised that even in my early twenties I was auditioning for “mom roles.” I was right out of college and thought, I’m too young to be a mom (though of course I wasn’t). But I think I was always seen as a mom type- a little wholesome, a little square. So that was an inspiration for the show, what if an actress was really keen to play her “type?” What if she was dying to play moms? But the other, more personal inspiration was that I have a lot of thoughts/fears around motherhood. And it’s something I think about a lot. I think those thoughts/fears were a window into some of the unusual characters I play. But I hope you wouldn’t know that watching the show. I hope they just seem like funny characters.

TMS: Did the sketch change at all from its inception to the performance now?

McCrossen: Yes! I tried out some of the characters individually at different shows. That was helpful to see what worked/didn’t in front of an audience. And then I had amazing input from my director Hunter Nelson and from Shannon O’Neill, the artistic director of the UCB, where the show is currently running. Both helped to shape the piece into its current version. We made “Julie Bowen” a stronger character, my foil mom-actress. And they helped me to weave in some of the other elements of the show into a more cohesive piece. Now that the show is running, I’m still making little discoveries in the performance of the characters, and that’s been really fun.

TMS: What’s missing from current portrayals of mothers in media?

McCrossen: I think roles for women in general are steadily getting better. But I think we have expectations for women and mothers that are unrealistic (and probably unattainable), both in our society and as depicted in media. I’d love to see more flawed, maybe even “unlikable” women driving television shows. Maybe a female Walter White.

TMS: Who’s your favorite (or least favorite) TV/movie mom? Which of the mom roles do you like portraying the most?

McCrossen: I mean, if I’m being honest, it might be Marge Simpson. Was there ever a better sendup of a TV mom? But, though she plays the “villain” of my show, I also really enjoy Julie Bowen. And for style, Laura Petrie all the way.

TMS: Tell me more about how you incorporated your mom’s voicemails into the sketch. What did she think about it?

McCrossen: Well, I had her permission to use them. She understands that it’s done out of love. Yes, in between sketches I play actual voicemails from my actual mom. And they are far funnier than anything I’ve ever written. My mom leaves these stream-of-consciousness style messages. It’s as though I’ve picked up the phone and she’s talking to me. The audiences always seem to respond to them, and I think it’s because she’s just so cute. She’s like the quintessential loving mom.

TMS: What are you geeking out about these days?

McCrossen: Using plain corn starch as dry shampoo, Stranger Things, and making fun of my friends who play Pokemon Go.

TMS: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think we should know about the show?

McCrossen: A confession: I’ve started shopping at Eileen Fisher. And I’m pretty sure that makes me an official mom. Their cottons and linens are just so nice for summer! Oh, also–some of the language in the show is a little raunchy or irreverent. But I still kiss my mother with this mouth.

TMS: Tell me a good “mom” story.

McCrossen: In the time it took me to develop this show, three of my closest friends had babies. #perspective

You can follow McCrossen on Twitter here and check out her UCB show here!
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