As part of the TW Fringe Festival, Mums the Word presents comedy duo Scummy Mummies at Assembly Hall theater on Friday, July 15. Eileen Leahy meets half of the hilarious pair, Helen Thorn, to learn more about their hit live show
Before speaking with Helen Thorn, part of the brilliantly named duo Scummy Mummies, I feel quite stressed. I just spent two hours waiting in my local hospital only to be told at the last minute that my appointment was cancelled. Then, just before I have to call Helen, I get a call from my son’s school telling me that he fell in the playground and needs to be picked up. ‘Argh – life!’ I scream before calling my husband to tell him to go to school so I can talk to Helen.
As her cell phone rings I still feel pissed off and as soon as she picks up I blurt out how sorry I am for being late to the call, my words mostly tumbling out of sequence.
“Oh, my poor darling,” exclaims Helen in her Australian accent. “These kind of nightmarish days happen to all of us. Do not worry! It’s part of the pain and joy of being a parent,” she laughs.
Ah, someone who really understands the crazy world of parenting – and works too. But again, Helen and her comedy partner Ellie Gibson based their hugely popular routine Scummy Mummies on, well just that – and in turn made it easier for others like me to worry about imperfect parenthood. .
The duo met when their children were toddlers and after discovering a mutual frustration and shared humor from trying to fight through parenthood and life, they launched a bi-monthly podcast in 2013.
Award-winning shows say Helen is how they started touring across the UK, including at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe and Hay Festival. The pair have also published books and guest appearances on prime time television and radio shows thanks to their popularity which sees them performing until the end of this year.
And one of those takes place here in Tunbridge Wells on July 15 at Assembly Hall as part of the TW Fringe Festival now in its second year.
But the pair – who are best known for parading the stage in their trademark zip-up jumpsuits – are already quite familiar with Tunbridge Wells as some of their early cheerleaders early in their careers were local sisters Laura Swann and Natalie Mcilveen who run Mums the Word – a communications and events company.
They invited Helen and Ellie to Tunbridge Wells before the pandemic hit and the duo proved so popular they kept inviting them back.
“We’ve gotten to know Laura and Natalie over the years and they’re just divine – and brilliant to work with,” says Helen.
“If they organize an event, you know it will be a good event. They are the most amazing organizers – we had a show with them that sold out in 7 minutes! They certainly know how to deliver an amazing night out for women. In other words, you know you’re guaranteed a great night out if they had anything to do with it, because they go above and beyond.
So what can the brave people of Tunbridge Wells expect from the Scummy Mummies show on July 15?
“A happy evening to start,” laughs Helen. “Our style of comedy focuses on being less than perfect parents so audiences can expect a slew of songs, sketches and stand-ups. We have our own confessions about being parents, but we also talk about being women in our 40s, and all the hilarious misadventures and adventures that happen because of it all.
“We talk about body image and how our bodies are changing at this particular time, as well as the whole spectrum of parenting. We include everything – from terrible baby shower gifts to terrible teens. When Ellie and I met, our kids were toddlers and now they’re either teenagers or going. and you know what? That in itself is a whole different set of worries and joys!
“But actually, being in your 40s, you actually gain strength. I think you are more confident; You know who you are. The pleasure of our programs is that they allow women to find each other, and it must be said that our audiences are always very lively! Our shows give people the chance to let go and know they are not alone.
Helen, who cites French & Saunders and Mel & Sue as comedy heroes, reveals the best kind of feedback she and Ellie get from their shows is when audience members say the comedians made them feel ‘normal’ .
“As parents, we are very self-aware. We live in a time when parenting is very public – there are people posting on social media what they are doing crafts or baking with their children and I think we all feel a little overwhelmed with guilt because we are not ‘it’ parent. We’re the ones feeding our kids Cheerios for dinner and telling them ‘it’s ok, they’re fed and they know they’re loved’!
The two pioneered saying things people hadn’t dared to say out loud to strangers until they put on their skintight jumpsuits and took modern parenthood to the test, ribbing it and being extremely outspoken about the pressures of parenthood and not getting it right most of the time. time.
Along with touring and writing books, over the past nine years Helen and Ellie have seen their podcast and social media presence skyrocket. They’ve even launched an online Scummy Mummies merchandise store that includes pouches with, you guessed it, “Scum Bag” as well as “Gin Mugs” and hoodies with the slogan “Good Yawning.”
“We write a new show every year and our inspiration comes from real life. We both keep small notebooks and jot down our observations. It can be the fun side of parenting, but it can also be the trickiest of situations, because most of us know that so much comedy comes from pain, too.
“I guess you could say the essence of what we do is to bring lightness to darkness. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously – we wear ridiculous gold catsuits for god’s sake We are openly silly and over the past couple of years I think we’ve all really dreamed about it So seeing our shows gives people the opportunity to do just that We feel like letting go: life with toddlers or teenagers is intense so we love afterwards when the audience says ‘oh we feel so much better’ That’s the joy of comedy, it really helps us to affirm that we’re okay because let’s face it, we’re all riddled with anxiety as parents.
“We’re a real antidote to all that overwhelming stuff, so coming to see us is really just a fun night. When we come to Tunbridge Wells it will be a Friday night – and almost the end of term. There will be that feeling of “we almost made it!” So what better time to grab some Proseccos and give yourself a pat on the back and come enjoy our show. We love coming to Tunbridge Wells – in fact, we’ve had some of our funniest nights here. It’s always the best fun! People should focus on the drink and have a good time! »