The Scummy Mummies return to Birmingham as part of Birmingham's Comedy Festival, at Sutton Coldfield's Town Hall on Saturday 7th October. The hilarious pair spoke to Cornfield Magazine about their long-lasting friendship and ability to juggle their two full-time careers - comedy and motherhood - in an interesting and upfront interview.

Words by Evie Kissack

A sensational comedy duo taking the podcasting world by storm - if you haven’t already heard about them, you should definitely give the Scummy Mummies a Google. Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn enthusiastically celebrate the reality of parenthood and inevitable parenting failures, and certainly do not shy away from topics that would make any ‘yummy mummy’ run in their heels as far away as humanly possible. 

The pair encourage parents to embrace their bake sale-loathing, fish finger-feeding, wine-guzzling habits, and confess any hilarious parenting faux pas in the safe space of the Scummy Mummies circle. The biggest thing to take away from one of their gigs is that nobody is judged, no matter how scummy your confessions might be. In fact, the scummier, the better. 

Whether you’ve dedicated your time to boycotting the PTA, or have hung your head in shame as your toddler has entered the room of the family party you are hosting dressed in your French maid’s outfit… at a Scummy Mummies gig you’re applauded for your commendable, not-so-perfect parental efforts.

When I entered the Artrix venue to interview Ellie and Helen, I was warmly welcomed and shown the delights of their dressing room; which included a mini fridge, complimentary bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo and a mirror with fancy West End-esque lights. Very showbiz. The Scummy Mummies were down-to-earth and gave an honest, entertaining interview. Ellie and Helen were more than happy to discuss their imperfect parenting techniques that have helped to create an international community of self-proclaimed Scummy Mummies. 

The pair met one evening when Helen was performing stand-up, when it transpired that both of their boys had been delivered by the same midwife, and were 18-months old. After bonding over a shared love for vino and motherhood mishaps, Ellie and Helen found themselves attempting to, in their own words, “Out-scum each other”. 

At the beginning of their joint career in comedy, the Scummy Mummies performed mostly to friends and family. Now, the dynamic duo have successfully reached thousands of listeners through their much-loved podcast which started back in 2010, and have made The Guardian’s Top 50 Podcasts of 2016. Luckily, though, the popularity of the podcast and live shows hasn’t gone to the Scummy Mummies’ heads – Ellie and Helen are still true to their hilarious and imperfect selves, and are about as unpretentious (and as lovely) as you can get. 

A huge part of the Scummy Mummies’ live show includes audience participation – something I later found out after the interview. Ellie and Helen encourage the parents amongst the audience to reveal their parental confessions. When I asked the duo if they ever get heckled, they said, “Not really. Our audiences are usually parents of young children and so don’t get to go out very much. Usually our audience is 98% mothers who just want to come out, have a laugh and have a good time.” Ellie and Helen explained, that when people do call out during their gigs, it’s usually a scummy confession to add to the comedy sketch going on. Ellie explained, “It’s about sharing with each other,” and then added, “Sharing our dirty secrets!” The ladies did disclose, however, that sometimes the audience members might have a little too much wine and shout things out, but it’s all in good heed and actually adds to the entertainment factor.

When I asked the ladies about their initial reactions to the huge levels of response they have had since starting the podcast, they explained they were initially blown away. “For us to reach that many people, it surprised us,” explained Helen, “Social media has played a huge role for us.” Indeed, the Scummy Mummies’ social media sites are massively entertaining and both ladies play an active role in using the platforms to their advantage. (I will add here, and I am proud to admit, that I played a vital part in filming a backstage sneak-peek of the pair in their dressing room at the Artrix that was posted to their 46.5k followers on Instagram – impressive, I know.)

The podcast has become very popular perhaps due to its refreshing take on the role of women. Ellie and Helen disregard unrealistic societal expectations, and instead send out the message to parents that it’s okay to do the school run in your pajamas, or enter a board meeting with a bit of Weetabix stuck to your bum. I asked the pair if they felt that the media’s depiction of women called for something more realistic and honest like their show, to which Helen replied, “I think so, and the catsuits we wear – have you seen the catsuits? – Well they have become almost iconic in themselves.” Helen explained, “The catsuits give a very frank presentation of our bodies, and we aren’t ashamed of that. It’s quite a positive body-image thing going on.” Without giving too much away, the gold catsuits do actually set the tone of the live show, and embody the approach of both comedians to not take life too seriously and inject a bit of fun into daily life. “The catsuits are more famous than us…” Ellie added.

When I asked Helen and Ellie how they came to writing their book, they explained that they explored a lot of the topics approached in their podcast (like pregnancy, babies, stay-at-home-dads, IVF, wine) and it felt very natural. The process for writing their book was completely collaborative, and both mums wrote ideas down based on their personal experiences.  

The Scummy Mummies’ Live Shows are extremely active, and both Helen and Ellie admitted to getting very into the sing-along aspects of the show. “Our show includes a lot of musical elements. The most popular song by far is the YMCA/PTA mash-up,” explained Ellie (trust me, it’s as good as it sounds). “We developed the song and enjoy saying the unsayable,” Helen added, “We don’t shy away from things. It’s what every parent is thinking about the PTA anyway.” 

The Scummy Mummies are currently working on their Christmas shows, which will feature some new material, and will continue to work on their by-weekly podcast. “It’s grown so much over the years and keeps going, we want to get new guests and continue for as long as possible, touring round the country,” says Helen. The Scummy Mummies fan base is extremely enthusiastic, and enjoys the ‘relatability’ of the content, which explains the hilarious podcast’s huge success. 

Having reached number one as an iTunes bestseller, the pair have become a global hit, and have also been nominated for several awards including the people’s Lovie awards, coming up this year. A brilliant, frank and thoroughly entertaining act, the Scummy Mummies live show is guaranteed to perk up your week. Don’t miss your chance to catch the ladies live, performing at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall Saturday 7th October. 

 

Grab your tickets here www.wegottickets.com/event/399318 and check out the previously mentioned social media of the fabulous pair @scummymummies for a few chuckles. You can also order the Scummy Mummies book on Amazon now!

www.scummymummies.com

Listen to the podcast here: www.scummymummies.com/podcast

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