Who knew being a wife and a mother in the suburbs could be so funny? It can, and is, said Robin Fox, a housewife turned comedian who will be on stage Saturday night at the Mason Gross Center of the Performing Arts at Rutgers University. The event, hosted by Family and Community Services of Somerset County, will raise funds for the nonprofit agency that provides myriad mental health services to individuals, couples, families and groups of all ages. The show begins at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7 p.m.
The evening is truly a family affair. The comedy night will headline Fox, as well as Joey Callahan, a tri-state comedian whose humor deals with his antics and adventures of being a father and husband. Facilitating the event will be Adam Sank, a former NBC “Last Comic Standing” showcase participant. Family has been at the heart of Fox’s life for decades – first as a stay-at-home mom and now as a stand-up comedian for the past eight years. “I spent 17-plus years as a full-time, stay-at-home mom and realized that time was not going to stop if I were to pursue a life-long dream of becoming a comedian,” said the Bridgewater resident, who started out locally and eventually began performing in New York clubs. Her interest in stand-up comedy started during her second year of college at Boston University. “At that time I was considering elementary education. I took one teaching class and decided in the first week to drop it. I knew it wasn’t for me,” she said. But she always got a laugh from her friends, who told her she “was the funniest person they had even known.” She changed her major to communications and started gearing her career to one in sales and marketing. “I would later use my creativity and humor to write compelling yet usually funny or clever copy for my ads,” she said. After a few years in the working world, Fox found herself married and at home with a baby. “I would go to comedy clubs here in New Jersey and saw many of the greats of the 1980s. Often I would think that, ‘I could do that. I should do that,’” she recalled. Known as the “funny mom on the block,” she was witty at school functions and had a special talent of keeping the kids rowdy and silly at birthday parties. “People knew me as funny,” Fox said. “I took my act so to speak wherever I was.” Fox said her mothering years were filled with wonderful memories of her children, and she said she loved being home with her two children. “They absolutely needed me to be home with them and I felt nothing I could do would be more important than staying home with them.” Once both were off at school all day, she admits that the routine often became “boring and monotonous,” but she said she filled her free time with craft-making projects, volunteering at school, and took on small jobs around her children’s schedule. All of these full-time mom experiences also became rich material for her stand-up routine, which was beckoning her. About eight years ago, she tried a local appearance at a Watchung Art Center Comedy Night. “From the first time I tried performing I was hooked,” she said. “I had a great set and the other comedians encouraged me to keep going.” The rush she got from being on stage was “fantastic,” she added. She works in clubs in New York City and at private comedy events and fundraisers for private and civic groups in the tri-state area. She says she often takes into account the crowd and may adapt her material accordingly.
“I do feel out the audience and if I see they like the stuff about my husband and they seem to be into that I will do more of it,” she said. “If I start doing my stuff about my parents and I feel the energy shift I will do the strongest joke on the topic and then move off of it onto something else.” there is some material, Fox said, that is tried and true for garnering giggles. “In order to do the best shows I use the material that I know will give the best results, so I stick with the jokes that I know are consistent in getting laughs,” she said. Most of her comedy material is about being a mom and wife. “I think the way women adapt to the role is funny,” she said, pointing out that there are many different groups of mothers. “You have the organic moms, the yoga moms, the nail salon moms and the Short Hills Mall-for-lunch moms, the corporate moms, the tiger moms, the ‘I’m so hot’ moms, the ‘I’m my daughter’s best friend’ moms, and ‘my kid’s a genius moms.’ THey are all pretending that motherhood is the greatest thing that ever happened to them. It’s endless and great source for my jokes to come out of it.” For other mothers yearning to pursue a road not taken, Fox offers this advice: “Just start and stick with it. Most people like to do what they are good at.” Fox said when she is behind a microphone, she is most comfortable, making a room laugh. “Thy show their approval with laughter and applause,” she said. “No one applauds when you do a great job getting a stain out of the laundry!”