Monday, January 31, 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras (Part One)

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin…so I’ll start at the very beginning. (Julie Andrews tells me it’s a very good place to start.)

A couple years ago I was flipping through channels and stumbled onto the reality show Toddlers and Tiaras. I’m not usually a reality show person. I’m always skeptical that there is anything “real” about them. But this show caught my attention. There were little girls made up like they were 28 years old and about to head on stage looking like Vegas Showgirls.

Other than Miss America, I didn’t know much about pageants. Homeschoolers aren’t really pageant people. Although, I think it would be fun to see some glitzed-out denim skirts and watch girls walk across the stage trying not to trip on their long hair. We once got a pamphlet in the mail advertising the registration for some Texas pageant.

“What’s this?” I asked my mom.

“Fire kindling.”

The most disturbing part of these pageants is the parents (more specifically, the moms) who push them into it. They claimed the pageants boost their girls’ self esteem (I guess it does for the girl who wins the “most beautiful” category. For the other kids…maybe you’ll be prettier next time.) The show is disturbing, but since I couldn’t do anything to stop it, I figured I might as well watch. The more I watched, the more sickeningly hilarious I found it…especially how none of the moms seemed to think there was anything wrong with these pageants.

I began working material about this show into my stand up act. The Toddlers and Tiaras segment of my act is by far my favorite set of jokes to perform. It’s definitely a little on the mean side, but then again, putting your four year old in high heels, waxing their eye brows, and cramming on fake teeth doesn’t inspire sympathy.

Everyone who has seen T&T is thinking the same thing: what are these parents thinking?! And with all the money they are spending on pageants, will they have any left for the therapy that is going to be vitally necessary for these kids to function normally?

One day my friend and “comedy mentor” Kerri called me. (, go say hi. Tell her I sent you.)

“Hey, I’m about to be your best friend,” she said. “There’s someone here who wants to speak with you.”

This someone happened to be the executive producer of Toddlers and Tiaras, who Kerri knew through a mom’s group. She told her about my stand up, and had her give me a call. I was pretty excited. We talked about the show and I asked about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. She said she can sleep at night knowing she was exposing these moms. I’m pretty sure I said something extremely corny at some point like, “you’re my hero.”

After the phone call, we kept in touch every so often via e-mail, usually discussing the show. She gave me an advance copy of an unaired episode, which has joined the ranks of my Molly Leg and Fantastic Four Arm as my most prized possessions.

Then came the really, really exciting part. Kerri, once again, became my best friend when she suggested to that they have “take your favorite comedian to work day.”

The thought of getting to see an actual pageant and see how they shoot the show thrilled me. We kept in touch, and found a date that they were shooting in Texas. I had a show not far from that area the day before, so it worked out great. For me, who has been a long time fan of the show, and now built a portion of my stand up career around it, was a dream come true.

Next, on PART TWO, I will tell you about the actual pageant day. Use the time between now and that post to take a lot of deep breaths.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homeschool and High Fashion

A veteran homeschooler and friend of mine sent me this picture yesterday.

The e-mail read:
So I saw this picture of a recent fashion show on the Satorialist's website and realized that homeschool moms can now tell their children that the way they dressed them is now the style. I'm sure they will say that the rest of the world is trying to imitate them because obviously they are doing everything right.

My friend stumbled onto something astounding with this polo-shirt-with-the-v-neck-sweater photo…someone is making millions off a style we were mocked for sporting. This might be the first time someone has gone to the homeschool community for fashion inspiration. I always thought homeschoolers were a little behind the times with fashion. But maybe we were just ahead of it. (Although...I don't follow maybe this has been popular for a while and I'm just unaware.)

Personally, it takes me at least a year to catch up with trends. I have to wait for the current “fashions” to hit the clearance rack or Goodwill before I can incorporate them into my wardrobe. This, however, has little to do with my homeschooledness and everything to do with my amazingly lucrative career choice.

Homeschoolers have a distinctly unique fashion sense. We like khakis. We like denim…specifically long denim skirts. Boys like polo shirts and v-neck sweaters (like super cool model in the picture) and girls wear loose fitting, modest shirts that won’t “cause our brother to stumble.”

In general homeschoolers have one of three looks:

1. The Economy Look: these are the Goodwill/hand-me-down families. Generally these kids wear khakis, denim skirts, and solid color polos or buttoned blouses (tucked in). These items are usually made with a lot of “wear” and they’re never really “in” fashionably, but they’re never really outdated either. These families look like they dress on an assembly line (the Duggars sport this fashion very well.)

2. The Professional Look: These are the kids who look constantly prepared to give a political presentation on the ramifications of socialism. Suits, the above polo/sweater combination, polished shoes, and socks that actually match.

3. The “Mom’s got other priorities today” look: pajamas and sweats. My personal favorite.

If you quickly want to determine whether someone was homeschooled, just look at the length of their pants. Our pants are often just a little shorter. The cuff of the pant generally reaches the ankle, no further, and when crossing one’s legs, rides up to low-calf to generously reveal our Costco economy pack socks.

I had coffee the other day with a former homeschooler (both of us had pants that barely touched our ankle), and we tried to figure out the reason for this little fashion nuance. Could it simply be coincidence that homeschoolers have unusually long legs? I don’t know. How would I get an official “study” rolling about this?

Your thoughts? There are many other fashion choices I didn't touch on. Feel free to add on to the list.