Chatting via phone with Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley of #IMomSoHard fame is like calling up your best friends and venting about the day over adult beverages.
That’s the feeling they go for in their short video segments they share via social media (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram) talking and laughing uncontrollably about the ups and downs of being a mom. They tackle everything from traveling with kids (and why you just shouldn’t do it) to body hair and why swimsuits are just not practical.
The duo has made more than 100 videos — viewed more than 25 million times collectively — but they plan to bring their funny in person to Cedar Rapids on Saturday night as part of their national Moms’ Night Out comedy tour.
“We are calling this our little Midwest going home tour. We are very excited,” said Hensley, noting that both women grew up in Nebraska (Hensley in Central City and Smedley in Bellevue) but that they didn’t meet until they were both living in Los Angeles after college.
Hensley and Smedley were fast friends and then two years ago on Mother’s Day, they found their niche talking about being moms — and all the ups and downs that come with it — in frank and utterly hilarious conversations that they post online.
“I like to say normally kids ruin your career, but ours have been incredibly helpful because there’s so much material,” Smedley said. “These kids as they grow are a wealth of new material because as soon as you figure one phase out, they are on to the next with all the new problems.”
“And if you don’t laugh at it, you cry at it. It’s how we cope,” Hensley added.
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It’s part of why they decided to take their show on the road — their second such comedy tour.
“So much of your life belongs to other people when you are a mom,” Smedley said. “Your time and attention belongs to somebody else. So what we wanted for this night out was for moms to get a ruckus and do what they want and go with a big bunch of other moms and have dinner and come not worrying, and just feel like a human again. ... If you got 3,000 men together for a ruckus show, there would be fistfights, but for us we are hugging and high-fiving each other and saying we have cute hair.”
The show is sure to pack in plenty of laughs about grown-up, female-driven topics.
“We talk a little about married sex. We talk a little about our bodies. But it’s all in fun and in the hopes that we elevate moms to feel like today you’ve got it figured out, probably tomorrow you won’t, but you are having a good time right now,” Hensley said.
“Jen and I always say that if we didn’t walk on that stage, the party would still go on. We are just sort of hosts of a party.”
It’s obvious Smedley and Hensley have a natural kinship, along with their knack for making others, and each other, laugh.
“Honestly, Jen and I really like each other in real life and we make each other laugh, so what to talk about has never been hard to come up with because we could literally talk about anything and enjoy it,” Hensley said. “What we usually say is what has been on our minds that week or what we are both dealing with. And it’s usually very similar, because my daughter is 5 and her son is 5 and we have many of the same battles. She has a daughter who is going to be 3 and I have a son who is going to be 7, so we have this spectrum of problems, and it’s fun to have a friend who gets it and has different experiences that you get to weigh in on. So we never really have a hard time coming up with topics, because they are usually really important to us.”
“If we are having a bad day and we tell the other one about it and they are like ‘well, I can’t relate to that at all,’” Smedley added sarcastically.
While some of what happens during filming is unscripted, Hensley said they do prep before rolling tape.
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“We do try to write as much as we can to sort of give ourselves some clarity. ... But then we hide the information from each other,” she said. “The day we shoot we have some stuff that is scripted, but if something comes up and we are really having a good time talking about it, we go with it. It’s a mixed bag of how it happens. Because it’s really delightful when something you’ve written works and it’s really fun when something unexpected happens, so we really try to let both those things happen if we can.”
Making the videos is fun, they said.
“Generally, we end up with 30 or 40 minutes on a topic, and part of the reason we write stuff down is because we go off on these tangents,” Smedley said. “And Kristin is always telling me something with a weird amount of authority that I often have to tell her is absolutely not accurate in any way.”
“That’s the fun of the videos,” Hensley agreed. “Because then I usually am fighting that point and then we just have a ball.”
The two have been performing, teaching and writing comedy internationally for a combined 40 years and their show-womanship has helped them connect with mom audiences worldwide. When this tour wraps later this summer, the duo will take their #IMomSoHard efforts up a notch: CBS picked up a TV pilot of their show.
Whether on the banks of the Cedar River or via your smartphone while waiting to pick up your kids from summer camp, these moms will keep bringing the laughs.
WHAT: #IMOMSOHARD Round 2!
WHERE: McGrath Amphitheatre, 475 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday (6/2)
TICKETS: $35 to $85; U.S. Cellular Center Box Office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Mcgrathamphitheatre.com/events/