When it comes to Ophira Eisenberg, I could fangirl on and on. She’s smart, a hilarious comedian, writer, dedicated feminist, and, rather unfairly, damn good-looking. I know her best as the comic who always kills when she participates in “Persisticon,” a Brooklyn-based feminist fundraising event regularly hosted by several of my friends.
Some know her best as the host of the weekly NPR and WNYC trivia game show Ask Me Another. Others may recognize her as the author of her first memoir Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy. Or you think you don’t know her, but you do. You’ve seen Ophira on Comedy Central, E!, Oxygen, VH-1, the New York Times, and in all kinds of magazine articles where comedians are inevitably asked who makes them laugh.
Her latest project is Parenting is No Joke, a brand-new podcast where she talks to fellow comedians about their work and what it’s like to have a kid thrown in the mix. I got a chance to ask Ophira a little about herself, the podcast, and the “growing” part of growing older.
Dixie: Ophira, you are clearly a magnificent moonflower of delight and awesome in every way. Still, my journalistic integrity behooves me to let you tell your side of the story. What are the awesome-est things about you? For example, what would you like mentioned in your eulogy?
Ophira: I’m blushing, so I guess the first line of my eulogy should be “she never learned to take a compliment.” My major strength is that I’m wildly flexible — not in the foot to the nose way, but in the nose to the grindstone way. I work in all formats! I am one of the few comics who does storytelling shows with the Moth, yet I can also be found slinging jokes to late-night crowds at The Comedy Cellar. I perform standup to drunk tourists, I host trivia shows for public-radio folks, I wrote a book about sleeping around! And now I have a new podcast called Parenting is a Joke, where I tell my own stories and talk to other standup comics about what it’s like to mix this ridiculous career with being a parent. I’m just saying — give me a room, an audience, and a microphone, or just one of those things, and I’ll figure out how make it a fun show!
Dixie: Do you think any of these qualities will be passed along to your son? Your new podcast, Parenting Is No Joke, talk to comedians about their experiences in raising kids. Are there reoccurring traits your guests mention as being qualities they’d like to see in their offspring? I’d imagine “good sense of humor” comes up a lot.
Ophira: My son definitely has a performer in him around the house, but he still gets shy in front of crowds, so he doesn’t crave the larger spotlight — and to that I say, GOOD! Every standup I’ve talked to has a pretty funny kid who has an advanced grasp of joke structure and gags, but I am yet to find that standup parent who hopes their child follows in their footsteps. Nothing underlines the word instability like working a freelance entertainment job and trying to provide for a kid. Most comics want their kid to do something they love, but they pray that comes with a steady salary and great benefits.
Dixie: What was the genesis of Parenting is No Joke? Did you do it as a self-serving way to get tips from other comedians? (No judgement.)
Ophira: I spent most of my life talking on- and offstage about the fact that I would NEVER have a child. I talked loudly about the fact that I hated kids — and trust me, I did! But then for various reasons and decisions, I changed my mind. And now I realize you have to have kids to know what it is to hate kids! A joke, of course, but also true.
Part of the reason I felt strongly about not bringing a kid into my life was because I knew how hard it would be with a comic’s lifestyle. The hours alone! I’m not yet aware of an elementary school that starts at 4 pm, and if there is a standup show out there that starts at 2pm, I’m going to say right now, that’s not a good show. So when I got pregnant, I felt very alone and pretty scared. Weirdly, I looked around and saw that so many standups — women and men — were suddenly having, acquiring, or putting together a family for the first time and wondered, “Why is this happening now?” It really did seem like an explosion. So, I called up my friend Julie Smith Clem who had just become a parent herself and I said, “We have to bring these comics together and talk to them and see if we can do a show with them, because this material is going to be fresh, interesting, and different.” We had a lot of pitches and iterations of this project before iHeart bought it, and I’m thrilled it happened! And Julie is now the producer of the show.
Read the entire interview with Ophira Eisenberg here on The Midst Substack. The Midst is our new project that we’ll launch officially in early 2023.
Dixie Laite has been a second-grade teacher and mechanical bull operator, and for the past 25 years she’s worked for a variety of TV networks as a writer, editorial director, trainer, advice columnist, even an on-air personality. But primarily she’s trotted around New York City in one cowboy shirt or another, lurking around flea markets, gyms, and anywhere they’ll hand her French toast. Currently she lounges around her apartment with one husband, one dog, five parrots, and roughly 2,000 pairs of shoes. Dixie is the main lady behind Age Against the Machine, a column about empowering women over 50. Sign up for the Jumble & Flowdown newsletter to stay in the know about Dixie’s latest columns.
Follow Dixie on Instagram @dixielaite
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