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COMEDY REVIEW : Mommies Find Humor, Heart in Housewife's Life

October 17, 1994|LAWRENCE CHRISTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was ladies' night out at the Alex Theater in Glendale Friday, and from the shrieks of delight that greeted the comedy duo the Mommies from a packed house of mostly white, youngish, suburban women, the random male interloper felt he was in for it--that is, either direct assault by way of withering critique, or the claustrophobic sense of being trapped in a crowded powder room.

Both fears turned out to be well-founded and irrelevant. By evening's end, the male of the species saw himself in the eyes of two women dishing: hairy in the wrong places, horny, flatulent, impractical, wimpy, lazy, evasive, self-absorbed and uncommunicative.

And by evening's end, he had heard enough about fat, poop, skid marks, hemorrhoids, douches, tampons and PMS to sit immobile in front of a daylong, triple-dip NFL telecast with total guilt-free disinterest in what might be on his other half's mind as she vacuumed through the house in stony silence.

In the meantime, the Mommies delivered terrific entertainment.

Caryl Kristensen, 33, and Marilyn Kentz, 47, are two Petaluma housewives who met a decade ago as neighbors living in a cul-de-sac that was as metaphoric as it was real. They knew, like every woman in their devoted audience, that at the heart of a dutiful housewife's hectic life, with its endless laundry and car-pools and hassles with hubby and the kids, is a primal anxiety that hangs in like a low-grade fever. One gets old, one gets fat, kids can be ugly and hateful and the emptiness they leave behind after they too quickly "grow and go," as Kentz says, is as pervasive as weather.

*

But rather than tear their raiments like Theban wives, the Mommies find endless ways to laugh at themselves and their conditions. They obey the writer's first maxim--tell what you know. They're colorful and observant and, most of the time, very funny. Kristensen's anatomy of a domestic fight while she's feeling PMS, "I just tell my husband, 'We're gonna fight; you pick the topic,' " is a memorable gloss on domestic wartime strategy. And unlike most stand-ups, they know how to put on a show, with costumes, music, subtle shifts in tempo and a steady emotional core based on a fondness for lives that at bottom are not so dreary after all.

Their defunct NBC sitcom didn't do them justice. The show is about to be revived. Let's hope for better luck for them next time.

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