At Good Good Comedy Theatre, monthly comedy game show Ur Mom Is Funny teams three comedians with their mothers to joke their way to the top. Only one team can win the glory of funniest family pairing.
“I had the original idea for this game show because my mom is very funny and I thought it would be fun to run a show with her,” says creator and cohost Hannah Trav. “I also just love seeing where my own comedian friends get their funny.”
Inviting parents onstage
Showrunners Trav and Pete Steele have spent the past four years mounting this monthly show, booking comedians and parents alike to showcase their joke-writing skills. Each show is a whirlwind of baby pictures, trivia, audience participation, points systems, and judges giving comedy scores on a scale of one to 10. Describing the hour-long event as “delightful chaos” would be putting it lightly. Moms run wild while their entertainer children try to keep up with the gags.
Steele describes a favorite moment: “We’ve had a few moms bring out props to get laughs, entirely unprompted by us, and that always gets me. Whenever we see that before a show, Hannah walks over and whispers excitedly, ‘Did you see she has props!?’”
Trivia, dating, and stand-up
Ur Mom Is Funny is shaped by three rounds of comedic challenges. Each comedian must guess their mother’s answer to a trivia question and vice versa. The mothers must create a 30-second sales pitch titled “Why You Should Date My Child,” in which the parent must list their offspring’s best qualities to an audience member. Finally, the stand-up comedy round showcases a performance and never-before-heard jokes from each team member. Comedians must author a brand-new comedy routine for their mothers to read live onstage. Each mom does the same, writing original jokes for her own child to perform.
“There is a certain amount of prep work we need from the comedians and moms,” Steele says. “We want to make sure we give them enough time to write their jokes, answer our trivia questions, and send family photos without feeling rushed.” Sometimes the hosts encounter moms who are interested in participating, but are ultimately too shy to get onstage. Trav and Steele are thankful for new faces starting comedy careers who are game for the show and past teams that have been eager to make another appearance.
The joys of the awkward
Every installment of the show is unique because onstage emotions run high. You feel the tension as you watch a comedian cringe at their own mother’s puns or embarrassing anecdotes. You see the absolute shock on a mom’s face as she reads jokes that her own kid wrote for her. “One time a single mom made a very suggestive joke about herself, and her son did not understand what she was saying,” Trav recalls. “There was a huge laugh and he laughed too and then said, ‘Wait, I don’t get it,’ and that had me crying.”
The success of the show led the creators to explore different formats.
“It’s a different energy onstage when we have dads on,” Steele says. “They generally try to ham it up more, so we have an extra comedic angle of smacking them down.”
Trav is more blunt.
“Dads are weird,” she explains. “For example, we didn’t realize that dads like to ramble more than moms, so one of the Ur Dad shows wound up running 15 minutes over.” Steele and Trav even produced a version of the show titled Ur Kid Is Funny, where comedian parents invited their own children to compete. Coordinating schedules to sit down and write jokes with grown-up children proved to be one of the most challenging show-prep sessions yet.
"Why do you do comedy?"
Steele and Trav love the feeling in the greenroom after the shows. “One nice thing is hearing comedians, even those with the toughest onstage personas, tell us after the show how much it meant to them and their parents to have shared the stage together, even for one hour,” Steele says. “We’ve gotten so much feedback about how it deepened their relationship because their mom or dad didn’t really understand why they decided to spend time doing comedy, why comedy meant so much to them. But then they understood after doing our show.”
Trav agrees. “Comedians tell us that the show was a really positive experience for their moms, and that makes me so happy,” she says. “It’s especially great when the moms invite their friends and it’s a night out for everyone.”
What, When, Where
Ur Mom Is Funny and its spin-offs run every third Saturday of the month at 7pm at Good Good Comedy Theatre, 215 N. 11th St., Philadelphia. On Saturday, December 21, at 7pm, the show will be Ur Dad Is Funny. (215) 399-1279 or goodgoodcomedy.com.
Good Good Comedy Theatre is not an ADA-compliant venue, but it does offer a portable ramp for wheelchair access to performances. Contact them for more info.