Crushing on Mommy Tonk
Our Columnist Finds Kindred Spirits in the Profane Comedy Musical Duo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
You guys, I found my soul mates, and they’re two ballsy broads who sing about parenting, shopping, and recreational drugs.
The vulgar vixens in question are Stacie Burrows and Shannon Noel of the comedy musical duo Mommy Tonk—and if I played guitar and grew up in Arkansas singing in the church choir, then I swear to you we’d be a damned trio. Like me, these flippant females each have two sons, recognize Target as the Holy Land, and channel the myriad frustrations of motherhood into their craft with bracing honesty, in the hopes of making people laugh.
To quote one of Mommy Tonk’s own songs: “I’ve got a mom crush.”
Naughty mommies, if you haven’t noticed, are having a moment. There was Betty Draper and those saucily captioned vintage 1950s postcards. (One on my fridge features a grinning, aproned housewife addressing her child: “What am I making for supper? Why, sweetie, I’m making whatever the hell I want served with a side of eat it or starve.”) There are the popular blogs Rage Against the Minivan and Moms Who Drink and Swear. There’s the “being a good mom is impossible” movie Bad Moms in theaters now, and its more promising sister-wife Fun Mom Dinner, set to release next year.
And this Sunday evening at Center Stage Theater, there’s Mommy Tonk and their gorgeous harmonies—backed by the bluegrass band the Assless Chaps—bemoaning their resentment for moms with hired help, for people who think their dogs are babies, and for school auctions that peddle anything other than “Booze and Weed” (“Sell us something that we need / Sell us something we can use”).
“We’ve been called the Tenacious D for Moms,” Stacie told me. Raised in Texas, she did stand-up comedy in New York before moving to Los Angeles, where she was a student at the famous Groundlings comedy workshop. Shannon hails from Kentucky, and toured the country with a traveling children’s theater before doing sketch comedy with L.A.’s Second City.
They met seven years ago when both were doing funny bits in the show Expressing Motherhood.
“Shannon goes onstage wearing literally nothing but a breast pump and some pajama pants,” Stacie recalled. “And I’m like—well, who the hell is this ray of sunshine?”
“We hit it off instantly,” Shannon said. “We both have a country flavor to us, and we have a ridiculous amount of fun. You know that surgery they do on conjoined twins to separate them? We’re going to have the opposite. We’re going to be joined.”
Together they riff on the hilarity of raising children in Tinseltown, turn their venting into tunes, and record the ditties on their iPhones.
“We have an impressive catalog of music,” Stacie said, “that can’t be sung anywhere near children.”
For example, she wrote a love song to her husband called “Get Off Your –, You –-ing –hole.” He enjoyed it so much, he surprised her by showing up at one of her gigs with his own guitar—and his own rendition of the lyrics, which he sung to her on the spot: “Get Off My Back, You –-ing Nag.”
While their audience is mainly moms, they often notice the husbands and boyfriends laugh loudest. “And we’ve had 20-year-olds who are just rolling,” Stacie said. “They’re like, ‘I never thought my mom was thinking those things—but now I realize she probably was!’”
So if you’re a bad mom … or you had a bad mom … or you ever wondered what my column would sound like set to country music, you might get a chuckle out of the Mommy Tonk show this Sunday night.
“I hope their stomachs hurt from laughing. I want to make them physically ill,” Shannon said. “And hopefully they have a buzz because there’s a bar there, too.”
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.