In ‘Young, Dumb and Full of Mum’ Rose Callaghan discovers how having a child involves changing more than nappies: review & interview

“When I see what other women are going through and how hard they have it then I’m, like, ‘whoa! No-one’s talking about this’.”

Rose Callaghan: Young, Dumb and Full of Mum (new show added for Monday 18 April, 5.30pm)
The Butterfly Club
Reviewed 13 April

It seems that Rose Callaghan is still weighing up the pros and cons of having a child. It’s not that she actually regrets her decision, as a Covid-stranded comedian, to conceive as a de facto lockdown project to help fill the time left vacant by a dormant comedy scene.

Still, in her thoroughly engaging, painfully honest show Young, Dumb and Full of Mum Callaghan takes us through her chequered journey as a first-time mother, an experience that had her confronting a raft of unforeseen challenges about responsibility, inequality and expected modes of behaviour.

Now in her late-30s, Callaghan presents what is essentially a coming-of-age story. She’s might be coming to it a little late, but who’s counting?

It’s a bumpy ride, but an enjoyable, illuminating one that pops the bubble about the miracle of motherhood. And while it’s not new comic terrain by any stretch, Callaghan brings a fresh edge to the topic with an observational odyssey that is rich in content and sound, unforced messaging.

Central to her story is the well-honed tension between the life she had and the life she has.

Attempting to uncouple herself from a routine of perilous social adventures and behavioral excesses, she now finds herself having to cope with mothers’ groups and defending her use of cloth nappies over the disposable kind that are destroying the environment.

There’s some killer AV content as Callaghan brings her Boomer mother into the picture, showing clips of a movie she made in 1985 about motherhood. Callaghan is also in fine voice delivering a very funny hip hop song about her travails.

Even more impressive are her skills an an anecdotalist; Callaghan creates vivid word pictures about childbirth and constipation that are explicit without being vulgar. And, gosh, it’s funny.

On the night in the small room at The Butterfly Club she played to a gathering of about 15 people who, huddled next to the stage, appeared to hang on her every word, rewarding her carefully worded descriptive passages and affable delivery style with laughter, and sometimes applause, with every story pay-off.

Indeed, the only real disappointment with Young, Dumb and Full of Mum was that a show this polished wasn’t playing to a bigger house.

As well as being the most personal show she’s ever put together, Rose Callaghan says Young, Dumb and Full of Mum is also a personal best.

Immediately after what was supposed to be her final show at the Club – a new date has been added – Callaghan was kind enough to hang out in the alley outside to discuss how she thought her first Festival run went, what she wants to accomplish with ths show and where she goes to from here.

Yes, the 10pm timeslot proved a struggle and, she says, there were a limited number of venues available this year. Still, she was happy to present a show that had gone through a thorough development process with her director Nicolette Minster.

Callaghan also describes the challenge of balancing comedy and full-time work (she’s in advertising) and the sheer joy she has discovered applying for arts funding.

After her bonus gig at The Butterfly Club on Monday 18 April, Rose Callaghan takes Young, Dumb and Full of Mum to the Sydney Comedy Festival.

For info and tickets to her Melbourne show please go here. For Her Sydney Festival gigs, go here.

Please enjoy.

Rose Callaghan interview index

00:00 Initial post-gig reaction;
00:37 Trial shows in regional areas; show remained fixed;
01:45 Developing the show;
02:00 More focus on writing; developing themes;
03:05 Difference from previous shows; less crowdwork, more structured;
03:35 “This is definitely my favourite show”;
04:00 Main themes; birth trauma;
04:25 Inequality of gender roles;
04:50 Loss of identity;
05:48 “When I see what other women are going through and how hard they have it then I’m, like, ‘whoa! No-one’s talking about this’.”;
06:05 Value of having a supportive partner;
06:28 Do men have a limited understanding?;
07:20 The dynamics of playing to a small room;
07:55 Intentions for the show now; Impact of Covid;
09:25 Day shows; Cry Baby shows in Sydney;
09:55 10pm is late for a show of this type;
10:15 Limited venues this year;
10:48 What’s it like putting a show together like this with ADHD?;
11:15 More time-focused;
12:25 Funding process;
12:50 Adventures in form filling;
14:30 Covid makes everything riskier;
14:50 The houses she’s been getting;
15:23 Who are The Rose Callaghan fans?;
16:15 The art of talking about constipation without being gross;
17:25 Working in advertising;
18:50 Are Boomers getting off easy?