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Jewish Journal

Once Upon a Kvetch

by Naomi Pfefferman

September 2, 2004 | 8:00 pm

"I never get any sleep, I never have sex and how many Jewish holidays can there be in one month?" Karen Schilling-Gould says in her comedy revue, "The Shlepperellas: Mothers Gone Mad."

She and co-star, Linda Merriweather, kvetch about cooking for Rosh Hashanah between driving carpool, fixing the toilet and "worrying about having to repent for the time and money I've just spent on the outfit to wear to temple to repent in," Schilling-Gould says.

It's the latest mom tribulation-fest to emerge from the ranks of the baby boomers, like Iris Krasnow's "Surrendering to Motherhood: Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul" and the Bay Area troupe, the Drama Mamas.

"We take the things that totally exasperate us, find the humor in it and put it in our act," Schilling-Gould says. "Like the fact that we're sick and tired of saying we're tired."

"And underarm flab," Merriweather says.

In fact the flab inspired a "Shlepperellas" song, "Vecha Flesh" ("soft meat" in Yiddish): "You reach for something in the cupboard, and you smack yourself in the face," Merriweather says.

While the Shlepperellas have earned good reviews for their humor, their beginnings weren't so funny. Back in 1991, a freaked-out Schilling-Gould, then the mother of 8-month-old twins, attended a mom's support group after learning she was expecting her third child.

"Has anyone ever had this many children in this short of a time and is it possible to survive," she asked group members, before bursting into tears.

Participants suggested she meet Merriweather, who had already experienced having three children in 16 months.

The two women ultimately founded the Shlepperellas in 1999 after discovering a mutual love for improvisational comedy. So how did they come up with the name? "We shlep a lot," Merriweather says.

"And we feel like Cinderella," Schilling-Gould adds. "As in, 'Cinderella, get my clothes. Cinderella, get my shoes.'"

But there's a glass slipper as well; family life is ultimately fulfilling for the Shlepperellas. And the show helps them deal with the aggravation: "It's like a good therapy session," Schilling-Gould says.

The Shlepperellas perform Sept. 12 at the University of Judaism. Tickets, $36 general admission, $30 group rate, benefit Yad B'Yad Los Angeles, which provides services for underprivileged children in Israel. For reservations, call (323) 658-5021.

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