Actor, writer, comedian and Ontario native Anne Marie Scheffler brings her hit one-woman show Suddenly Mommy! to Ottawa this fall, detailing her journey from showbiz to motherhood, and the insanity that often comes with juggling a career and a baby.
Finding humour amidst the constant daily challenges of parenting is a special gift – and Anne Marie Scheffler certainly has it.
An accomplished actor, writer, comedian and voice artist, the Ontario native now divides her time between Toronto and Los Angeles. Scheffler has created and toured eight solo comedy shows across North America. Her fifth show, Not Getting It, was made into a one-hour comedy special for CTV/The Comedy Network.
Since becoming a mother herself, Scheffler has been performing two shows – Suddenly Mommy! and MILF Life Crisis – to rave reviews. This October, Scheffler will bring Suddenly Mommy! to Ottawa’s Centrepointe Theatre (centrepointetheatre.ca). Parenting Times caught up with Scheffler to discuss her journey from Hollywood diva to diapers and drool.
Parenting Times: So you’ve been selling out shows across North America, and now you’re coming to Ottawa on Oct. 20! I went to Centrepointe’s website and saw their October calendar – there’s Toopy and Binoo, The Wiggles, and you!
Anne Marie Scheffler: I’m so excited! Actually, I have to admit that I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Anthony from the Wiggles; he’s the goodlooking, suave, George Clooney-looking one.
PT: Me too! I’m glad I’m not the only one crushing on Wiggles! Seriously though – looking at the lineup, I was struck with this irony that you’ve lived a pretty glamorous life – and now you’ve broken into this new genre of comedy about kids and parenting. What has that shift been like for you?
AMS: I think it’s been a really healthy shift because sometimes we think there’s an end date to our career because of our age as women, and I don’t think that’s true anymore. So what I fully embrace is that if I just talk about my truth, other people will relate and will appreciate that.
I used to believe that you have to get your career going right away in your 20s and 30s and if you’re going to have a family, your career is going to suffer. But the truth is we all have families and we all want to continue to evolve in our lives, and there’s comedy in every phase of our lives.
I used to find comedy in dating and looking for a husband – that’s what my comedy special is all about, very Sex and the City. It’s like I went from my Sex and the City years to my Desperate Housewives years.
PT: You do seem to have a real gift for finding the humour in everyday situations. What kind of themes can parents expect when they’re watching Suddenly Mommy?
AMS: With kids, you love them so much that they’re the centre of your universe, and I talk about trying to rekindle the fire with your husband after kids. The other theme is not losing yourself – your personality – as a mother.
PT: I read a quote from you where you talk about motherhood as a hero’s journey – you have to fight, grow, learn, battle, and return with the elixir of ‘Put Yourself First.’ Tell me a little more about that philosophy.
AMS: When my children were super young, like one and three, I met this woman … her kids were fabulous and thriving, and I wanted to be like her.
And she told me that the secret was putting yourself first, and I thought she was crazy. Then I realized that she was right; you really have to be capable and in working order first in order to make the family work and to make children happy.
PT: Absolutely; you can’t be everything to everybody without giving time to ourselves. So tell me a little bit about your own kids and how they inspired you to create Suddenly Mommy!
AMS: Well, I have two boys, ages nine and 11. I felt like it was a joke from the universe that I should have two boys as opposed to girls. I come from a big family of girls, my mother has sisters, I have mostly sisters, and I just expected to have girls, and I got two boys.
Plus I married a guy who had a daughter already, my stepdaughter, and I thought, it’s God’s way – or the universe’s way – of showing me that the challenges I was having in dating life are the same challenges that I’m going to have with these boys.
Like I do say in Suddenly Mommy, boys and men are the same – they both break your heart. So I feel like they inspire me to not give myself away … just because I want them to love me so much.
PT: And it’s hard not to give your heart away to your kids. Do your boys come with you between Toronto and Los Angeles?
AMS: Yes – they have a two-city kind of life. They know TO and they know LA and eventually, they’ll decide what their favourite city is. But I feel like when I opened up the door to Los Angeles for my career, I also opened it up to my children so they can have this bigger world.
PT: Most definitely; they will have such cool experiences growing up! Now, Suddenly Mommy! is your own comedy play and I understand you worked on it with Rosie Shuster of Saturday Night Live fame. Tell me a little bit about the creative process behind writing it.
AMS: The play was completely written and I had already performed it, then I was being invited into bigger theatres and I was starting to expand into my LA phase. Rosie and I met each other and wanted to work together, and I hired her to punch up Suddenly Mommy! to make my good show even better.
I feel like it’s the best show in the world; I love my show so much, I can’t even tell you! I’m so proud of it. And what a dream it was to work with someone who has worked with Gilda Radner, Bill Murray and Jane Curtin … I would just be losing my mind as we would chat about the play.
We worked together because we created a TV series called Bad Mommy and so I wanted her to also have some input for the live show, as they’re connected.
PT: What other projects do you have in the works right now?
AMS: I’m going to Just for Laughs at the end of the month to pitch; there’s an industry part of it where comedians can schmooze with producers and agents, and network. I’ve got lots of good ideas that can always be turned into a TV series.
But in the meantime, my stage life is that Suddenly Mommy! is my work of art; it’s a very strong show with a great track record; it has been showing since 2009.
Now people want ‘Part II,’ so I’m going back to all those venues with MILF Life Crisis. So I could easily come back to Ottawa in a year for the sequel!