These days, no one could use a laugh right about now more than moms. And no one understands that better than Alyce Chan—a stand-up comedian who, in a pre-Covid 19 era, performed at New York City’s most famous comedy clubs. She’s also the founder of MomCom, a massively popular monthly comedy show made for mothers who want to let loose with their little ones in tow. “With MomCom, my comedy turned into something that was more about serving this community of women,” Chan says. As a mom of two boys, age 3 and 6, Chan has built up a dedicated following who turn to her for much-needed comic relief, which lately, comes in the form of viral memes and jokes of the day. (You’d also do well to for more laugh-out-loud content).
Here, Chan talks about healing through humor, the importance of finding the light in trying times (young motherhood included), and why comedy is the ultimate self-care.
When did you realize you were funny, and what is your earliest memory of that?
Oh, I love that question because it brings me back to such an awkward stage when I was a child. I distinctly remember that we moved when I was 6 years old in first grade, and I had a hard time finding friends and making friends. I felt like there was a lot of racism towards Chinese people, so I got teased by many boys, and a lot of the girls didn’t want to be friends with me because I don’t think I looked the part. I didn’t have long hair. I didn’t wear a dress; I wore dark-colored clothes. I was a tomboy, and I didn’t take care of my appearance, and I was really shy. I’m an introvert, naturally, so it takes me a while to warm up to people. I got my fair share of bullying and feeling left out by other girls who made it very explicit that they didn’t want me to be part of the group.
When I turned 10, I was still having trouble making friends and adapting. I remember buying this book from a book club called How to Win Friends from A to Z, and it would go from A to Z alphabetically on topics of what you can do for yourself to make friends. I turned to the first page that was “A for Acne.” It said, if you have acne, you need to get rid of it, and then I stopped at page F. Are you funny? People like funny people. If you’re funny, you can make friends easily, so learn jokes, be funny. So, I started reading these books of jokes, and I would memorize them. I spent my lunch hour telling dirty jokes to people—these innocent but kind of dirty jokes. I wasn’t funny, so I needed something funny that I can use, and I’d draw a crowd of mostly boys. Then I start being more like a practical jokester. For example, I would tie this boy’s shoelace together because I thought it was funny. Then I started making friends.
Isn’t it funny how those days of being bullied as an adolescent can shape you so much? It really tells you who you are as an adult; it’s very formative.
Yeah, I love what you just said: It told you who you are as an adult. And, you know, when you’re young, you don’t know what’s going on, you know how you feel, and you feel hurt, you feel left out, and it can go either way: you could become that, or you could rise above it. And also, you can feel empathy. After fourth grade, I finally got accepted by friends and the popular crowd. The popular crowd was still bullying people, and they would pick out a girl each week to bully. I didn’t participate, and instead, I’d always write a note and say, “I’m not part of this. You’re still my friend.” To this day, if I see a kid left out at my son’s class, I notice because it makes such a dent in your childhood—and one kind gesture can change the structure of your journey to adulthood. It affected me so much, but I’m glad that it happened to me; I would never take it back.
Let’s talk about your comedy show, “Bring Your Own Baby.”
Bring Your Own Baby, I call it BYOB , is for parents who need a break and who want to see a comedy show with their baby but can’t do it at nighttime because either their schedules won’t allow it or they would be too exhausted. I created BYOB because I wanted to nurture mothers. It’s kind of like my thing. Whenever I saw a new mom or a pregnant mom walking by or a mom with a toddler, I felt like I want to take care of them, in some way, because I knew how hard it was and how lonely it got—the parenting part—because I was so lonely and lost when I was a mom for my first child. So I wanted to create an event that used comedy while also empowering other mothers.
What is the big takeaway with your events?
Mom Com is all about connecting women to other women, also connecting to themselves. I do it through the power of humor. Humor is so important because it applies to everyone and helps you navigate through really stressful times. It’s when things get so crazy you just have to laugh about it or find that humor in it. if you can’t find the humor in hard situations, it’s going to be rough. It’s something to help you lessen that tough ride—and I think everyone needs more humor in their lives.
Who is your audience?
I relate to young moms, because I make a lot of baby jokes, and also moms with toddlers. They understand the journey of motherhood and how exhausting well as how rewarding it can be. There are people who think mom meme accounts are constantly complaining about kids. But it’s not about that. We’re not complaining; we’re making fun of the scenario. We’re finding the light in such an exhausting period of parenthood. It’s not like we don’t want it—we are living in it, but we can also find the humor in it as well.
Other than humor, what makes you feel good?
For me, it’s about being kind to yourself. Mothers are very hard on themselves, and a lot of my memes are made to help mothers feel like they’re not alone. It’s hard for all of us, and there is no perfect mother and no one way to handle motherhood. Everyone is doing their best. My comedy is like cashmere in that it’s taking self-care to the next step. Moms deserve luxury, deserve quality, deserve to feel good, and deserve to dress up. As moms, we’re all so exhausted, and we don’t have time., so we don’t bother to put makeup on and wear sweatpants. But the moment I touched your cashmere wrap, I felt like a million bucks. It reminds me that I’m a woman, too. I’m not just someone’s wife or someone’s friend or someone’s mother. Dressing up to feel good reminds me of who I am and who I used to be. It’s a luxury that I think mothers should drape themselves in.