Tales From the Tot Seat
Comedy Spills From Kidding In 'Afterbirth'
By Barbara Hoffman
Those seeking stories about the wonders of childbirth and the joys of parenting might want to skip "Afterbirth," a "Vagina Monologues" for the stroller set.
Performing it are actors and writers reading true (and truly hilarious) pieces: about fussy eaters, pot-smoking in-laws and how, just when your formerly helpless infant has turned into an interesting teen, he's suddenly too busy to talk to you.
All told, there's not a sentimental story in the bunch - which is just the way the comedian who conceived the piece wanted it.
Four years ago, Dani Klein says, she was a 40-year-old, freshly unemployed first-time mom who needed a lift that neither a nursing bra nor "Chicken Soup for a Mother's Soul" could give her.
"I knew I wanted to hear inspirational, funny stories," she recalls, "not the pretty sweet stories."
And she wanted to hear them mostly, she says, from men - "the Mom-oir," as she calls it, having been pretty well mined already. Besides, she says, "Men don't tend to wax on about the beauty of their child."
Since she'd been a comedian in Hollywood for 10 years, she knew whom she wanted to hear from, too - folks such as Peter Horton ("30something"), Matt Weiner ("Mad Men") and "Seinfeld" writer Carol Leifer.
One call led to another, and before she knew it, she had a show - a highly scripted one, with very few props, which played sold-out runs in Los Angeles and has now come to New York for two nights.
"I did have a nursing bra onstage," she recalls. "A comedian named Joanna Stein put it on over her shirt and talked about how difficult it was to nurse." Another woman supplied a poster of herself, hugely pregnant with twins.
"But I don't encourage props," Klein says. "I really believe it's about the spoken word."
Among those supplying the words in New York are "Sex and the City" TV producer Cindy Chupack, on her odyssey to become pregnant; Caroline Aaron (Judge Biotch on "Ugly Betty"), who wonders whether she should have crippled her son emotionally so he wouldn't leave for college; and "Lipstick Jungle" star Andrew McCarthy, a first-time reader (and father of Sam, age 6) who has a run-in with a stroller.
"It felt good to write," McCarthy tells The Post, "but I'm preparing for tomatoes to be thrown."
That in itself might be interesting.