Breastfeeding Comic Mom Barred from Appearing on Stage

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In the midst of a government-funded Ad Council campaign that touts “Babies were meant to be breastfed,” Tricia Shore claims that she was only trying to do what was best for her child when she placed the sleeping infant in a sling and strode into the Los Angeles club where she was booked to perform for a comedy showcase. The male employee guarding the door, however, asked a female employee to tell the club’s management that “a breastfeeding woman wants to perform." The management, via the female employee, relayed the message that Shore could not perform her showcase because the baby was with her. Shore had been scheduled to perform since before her now 3-month-old son was born. This information took Shore by surprise because she has been performing onstage with her son since he was one month old.

Management at a Los Angeles comedy club told Tricia Shore, Comic Mom that she could not perform because she was carrying her infant son in a baby sling. Shore, who performs in one to two comedy shows at other venues each week with the baby onstage with her, said that people usually react positively to the baby. “The worst thing that’s happened is one time he spit up. A burp cloth and baby wipe cleaned up the spill—no harm done.” The comedy club that rejected her, however, was not as understanding: “They told me I could not bring the baby in because of alcohol control laws, which do not allow persons under 21 to enter the premises. Obviously, the owner has every right to interpret the law in whatever way he wants—he could throw me out because I have blue eyes if he wishes--but really, my 3-month-old only doesn’t even drink water. I don’t think we have to worry about him bellying up to the bar. He can’t even walk yet."

In addition to performing comedy in other Los Angeles and Orange County venues, Shore has been performing showcases at the club, one of Los Angeles’ major comedy venues, for over one year. Her last showcase there was three days before her third child was born, in November 2004. “The last time I came to the club, people there praised me because I was working so close to my due date. It was okay as long as the baby was on the inside, but now that he’s outside, there’s a problem.”

What amazes Shore the most is the initial reaction by the club’s gatekeeper: “He actually asked me as I nursed the baby with a blanket covering the infant, ‘What is the medical term for what you're doing with that baby?’ As startled as I was at such a question, I replied, ‘Breastfeeding.’ I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had such an uninformed reaction to feeding an infant.” Shore had planned to keep the infant quietly sleeping or nursing in the baby sling while onstage. Parents have used baby slings for centuries to carry infants; moms can work and breastfeed easily with an infant in a baby sling. The sling imitates the movement of the baby in the womb and helps the child make the transition from womb to outside world. “I’ve performed all over Los Angeles and Orange County with this baby in a sling. It’s hard to believe that this club’s management did not see that a baby still somewhat attached to its mom wasn’t planning on drinking any alcohol.”

When asked why she didn’t leave the infant with her husband, as she had her two older children, Shore couldn’t help but bring in her wry humor, “Frankly, my husband sucks at breastfeeding.” With their first child, she and the baby’s father were told by their pediatrician, Dr. Paul Fleiss of Los Feliz, CA, that the breast is highly preferable to the bottle. “None of my children has ever had a bottle or a pacifier,” Shore said, “We want our children to have what nature intended. Wouldn’t it have been terrible for my husband to have a crying baby on his hands for three hours while I was off doing comedy? Nature means for babies this small to be with their moms.” Shore thinks that this comedy club missed a great act. Audiences, whether or not they have a child, love to hear her anecdotes about being a mom. "I often talk about how people react to moms. This story will definitely go into my act!"

But she still doesn't understand how having a baby with her disqualified her from performing her comedy routine. “My baby’s a cute little guy. The audience would have loved him, as they do each time I bring him on stage with me at other venues.” Shore plans to appear next at Lucy’s LaundryMart in Silver Lake, the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia, Second Stage Theatre in Anaheim, and at the California’s Funniest Female Contest in Huntington Beach. Her Web site is Shore is available for interviews.

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Cathy Hasty



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Cathy Hasty