Doug Moe is quite a few things: a comedian, a blogger, a Brooklynite, and the father of a girl who, creepily enough, is almost EXACTLY the same age as my own daughter. He’s also got a well-reviewed one-man show called Doug Moe is a Bad Dad playing on Feb. 15 (that’s this Wednesday night) at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater at 8pm. Buy tickets or, if you are not in New York, just pay a visit to his very funny blog, Man Versus Child. Doug was kind enough to stop by DadWagon for a Q&A.
Nathan: First off: What makes you think you have any idea about being a bad dad? There are lots of REALLY bad dads out there. The bar is high.
Doug: That is true. There are a lot of really bad dads out there. I’m merely claiming that I am one of them. Actually, my show is much more about the FEAR of being a bad dad…whether I am or not.
Nathan: Seems like if you can avoid murdering your kids’ mom and then blowing them and yourself up, you’re doing pretty well (or is it too soon to joke about Powell?)
Doug: Yes, there is a point at which there’s no denying that you are a bad dad; probably Murder/Blowing Up Your Family is beyond that point. Most of us never get to THAT point, but when you’re in a music class singing “Wheels on the Bus” and you REALLY don’t want to be…I think even then you might think: “I’m a bad person, I should be better at this…”
Nathan: Goodness. I have been there, too. [Editors note: who fucking hasn’t?] Do dads really have to do that crap to be good parents?
Doug: That’s what we’re told and what I try to do in my show is talk about that fear… like every little misstep will ruin your child. And then I also think that so much “bad” stuff can be justified. So like you say, “Well watching Dora again isn’t really good parenting…but THEN AGAIN she did learn the proper use of the word “calculate” from Pinkie Dinkie Doo…”
Nathan: Aha. Now you’re at the heart of why we wanted to talk to you. If there’s a theme on DadWagon… actually, there is no theme. But I wish there were, and I wish it had something to do with figuring out why parenting got so oppressive and what we can do about it.
Doug: haha. Yes.
Nathan: Is the proper response to go full Mad Men as a father, and just drink and work like the old days?
Doug: That seems to be working out for Don Draper, so probably. But then again… I think one of the things that can be tough now as dads is that there’s been this shift to us being maybe more involved or at least feeling like we SHOULD be more involved, but the template for HOW to be involved is still very much the “Mom” template and maybe there’s no difference, but there shouldn’t be an automatic assumption that dads will do parenting like moms! Boy, that sounded REALLY INTENSE.
Doug: Yes! Overthrow the moms and …. oh shit…COME BACK MOMS! I have one part in my show (I know it probably seems like I’m trying to plug my show, but this is how I talk) that is about how the Disney Princesses are TOO SEXY and goes into that OUTRAGE. But in the show, the outrage over the sexiness shifts into being sort of turned on by them. It’s wrong and (hopefully) funny. But there is this sense out there that if you GOD FORBID let your kid play with a princess doll or a pink lego that they will become unempowered for life or something.
Nathan: Which [princess are you into]? Ariel? Cinderella?
Doug: Oh all of them. Cinderella because she’s not afraid to get a little dirty and cleans up good. Ariel because of the clam shell bikini.
Nathan: Noted. I hear you about playing with dolls, etc.: the stakes feel so high with everything. We used to get into huge fights with my mother-in-law about how she let the kids watch too much TV. What if it all doesn’t matter, or at least not that much?
Doug: Haha, oh man. I think we all do that. I grew up watching a ton of tv. So you can justify it like, “I turned out okay”. But you also read the article that says, no TV before they are 12 years old or whatever.
Nathan: I hate that article
Doug: In my childbirth class… ya know the one that you have to watch the weird videos from the 80’s about the cooperative child birthing practices of the Norwegians or whatever… my teacher there said one really helpful thing. She said “Parenting is more about long-term consistency”. And I repeat that to myself every time I am letting my daughter watch Dora again. As long as IN THE LONG RUN she hasn’t really watched too much Dora, we’re fine (and she probably won’t even LIKE Dora when she’s a grownup, so it’ll all even out).
Nathan: Yes, be consistent. What if my consistent is: I consistently read the Times to find out which new survey is telling me I’m doing it all wrong and I need to change everything or else my child will kill hookers at truck stops for the next forty years?
Doug: Yes, that is a problem. Don’t do THAT. That specific thing.
Nathan: How has the show been going? Do you find it’s more moms than dads (I think our blog readership is—hi moms!) in the audience? Or is a real Man Show crowd?
Doug: It’s been going great! I’ve been running it since the tail end of August. It’s hard for me to judge if more moms/dads…the
Nathan: They have sex and children too.
Doug: Nerds definitely have sex. Part of what’s been fun about the show is that parents have come up to me and been like, “oh man, that one thing is so true” but also comedy nerds and hipsters who probably still hate babies have also liked it. You don’t have to be a parent to relate to it, I don’t think. Even if you’re not worried you’re a bad dad, you can worry that you’re bad at something. Like if you are from Bushwick, you can worry that you are a Bad Barrista. I say this as a true dependent on Good Baristas. I’m just saying: “Baristas: Buck up!”
Nathan: Last question: who are your role models in talking about parenting: comedians, authors, musicians? Was there anyone that took inspiration from in making this show?
Doug: hmmm…good question…the rest of those questions, not so much…I kid.
Doug: Ya know, I had great parents so clearly them. AND DADWAGON. Pretty much an even split.
Nathan: Awesome. End interview there.