'Being pregnant made me a better comic': Rhiannon Archer transcends the mom-hostile world of standup
'Pregnant women are capable of so much, they just need a little more room...physically and otherwise'
Rhiannon Archer is a working comedian. Like most working comedians that means late night sets in bars and backrooms, hustling for gigs both writing and hosting, and being at the beck and call of agents promising that breakout acting role or lucrative commercial. Unlike most working comedians Archer is also four months pregnant. Despite expecting her second child the performer has barely slowed down her pace.
"I think being pregnant has made me a better comic, a nicer person, and a harder worker," Archer told the CBC. "I think most women who are pregnant feel the same way in whatever industry they are in. My hope is that employers and society can just get that through their heads and support mothers rather than roll their eyes. Pregnant women are capable of so much, they just need a little more room...physically and otherwise."
Plus who needs beer? Did you know you can get a similar buzz from massive sleep deprivation after looking after your screaming infant?- Rhiannon Archer
Archer — who has opened for big name acts like Maria Bamford and Chris Hardwick — is no stranger to performing while expecting. In 2015 she completed a sold-out run of her solo show Life Records at the Toronto Fringe while pregnant with her first child. Later that same year she also hosted long running sketch show Sunday Night Live.
"The wonderful and talented comedians of Sunday Night Live asked me to host when I was seven months pregnant with my first kid. They didn't make me do a single sketch about babies or pregnancy! It was so incredibly refreshing. While pregnant you already feel odd, like your body is not yours, and they just made me feel normal. Like just another comedian. I'll always love them for that!
While being a mom has changed Archer's perspective on comedy she doesn't want being a parent to be the central focus of her humour.
"Having a kid has made me really rethink what I am talking about. I used to use my comedy as a way of getting out the frustrations of my life. I'd make a joke to take away the power of those frustrations. Now I have different issues and things to make jokes about. I haven't really changed my material to be parent-centric but it's impossible for your perspective not to shift once a tiny human comes out of you."
Balancing her life as an artist with her life as a mom has taken a lot of effort for the comedian. While Archer is adamant about growing her comedy, the focus has become more about the work and less about the social scene around stand up. That can be challenging in an industry that is so dependant on networking.
I think being pregnant has made me a better comic, a nicer person, and a harder worker. My hope is that employers and society can just get that through their heads and support mothers rather than roll their eyes.- Rhiannon Archer
"I mean most comics treat me the same, but others don't. It really depends on their maturity level. For example: some comic once asked me what it was like to give up my career to have children. I didn't even know how to answer that. I didn't feel like I needed to because he was opening for me that night. But the biggest setback is just being more tired and not really wanting to stay out all night drinking or hanging out like I used too. That idea of that just makes me exhausted. I miss it, but I'm just not there anymore. Plus who needs beer? Did you know you can get a similar buzz from massive sleep deprivation after looking after your screaming infant?"
As Archer prepares for the her second child she can still be seen regularly gigging at venues across Toronto, in addition to co-hosting her long running storytelling show Fireside Tales in Dufferin Grove Park. The comedian is proof that having kids and pursuing your goals aren't mutually exclusive, it might just take a different kind of commitment. When we asked her favourite joke about parenting, she continued to hustle.
"You'll have to come to a show and find out for yourself!' she said.
Rhiannon Archer has a blog called The Oblivious Child. You can read it here.