It’s no secret that most of us mums with young kids take every opportunity for timeout that comes along, because frankly there aren’t that many. More often than I'm proud of, I execute my finely honed ‘dump-and-run’ manoeuvre during violin lessons and after-school programs. The sweet call of freshly brewed coffee and twenty whole minutes when the only question I have to answer is “what can I get you?” beckons me, and I give in.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a mum-guilt article. We engage with our kids constantly, so the mini-breaks while they do their thing are welcome (and necessary!). However, when it comes to opportunities to genuinely enjoy time together at family friendly events, I have noticed a rather alarming shift.
The definition of ‘family friendly’ seems to have morphed into ‘suitable for kids while parents can tune out.’ We see it all the time—kids up the front, parents down the back. It’s sad to see parents written out of live, family entertainment. Each time is a missed opportunity for us to enjoy genuine, heartfelt merriment right alongside our kids (and not just the type that comes from seeing our kids enjoy themselves).
Thankfully, it’s not just me who has noticed the difference. Last year I was thrilled to work with one of Australia’s premiere children’s comedians Mark Trenwith (aka Mr Snot Bottom). For almost ten years Trenwith has been the cause of countless kids’ raucous laughter as he combines a charismatic stage presence with some of the best kid-gags of all time.
In addition to the outstanding quality of Trenwith’s entertainment, it’s his determination to address the segregating trend occurring in children’s theatre that has me excited. It’s always sad seeing kids at the front and parents at the back, not interacting with each other, he remarks. That doesn’t happen in my shows. Nothing makes me happier than seeing parents and children laughing together and sharing the performance as a family… It’s all in the name of fun and many of the loudest laughs come from the parents!
I’m not going to lie to you, most of Trenwith’s show is toilet humour. Yet somehow, he takes those old school-yard gags and turns them into a masterpiece of comicality that elicits laughter from both children and adults alike. He works hard to write his material this way, but it is definitely worth the effort! My hope is that it won’t be long before other Australian performers start thinking this way too.
So do yourself a favour—if you have young kids ages 5-12, get along to see Mr Snot Bottom live. If you can handle dealing with a little more snot and toilet humour to what you’re already enduring at home, you won’t be sorry. In fact, be prepared to laugh harder than your kids. I know I did.
Melbourne - SpeakEasyHQ Jan 24-26
Perth – Fringe World Festival Jan 28-29
Adelaide – Adelaide Fringe Mar 11- 19
Melbourne – Melbourne International Comedy Festival April 8 – 15
Sydney – Riverside Theatre July 4- 5
South Australia (regional) - July 10 - 14
Victoria - Kyneton Oct 3 & 4