Saturday Night Live took advantage of guest host Tina Fey and cast member Maya Rudolph’s pregnancies last night with some bump ‘n’ birth comedy. The target of one sketch was the childbirth education class.
In it, a group of normal parents (including Tina Fey) sit on mats looking horrified as their sanctimonious bore of a teacher promotes “natural birth” via a low-quality video tape of two icky, weirdo hippies having a kind of wildly over-the-top animalistic home birth. In the end of the video not just one hippie woman gives birth but two hippie women give birth while 69ing so that they can catch each others’ babies. The class walks out when cooking the placenta is mentioned.
I really wanted to crack up. I love these performers. And many childbirth instructional videos are ripe for parody. The music, the soft voice over, the dated hair-styles, a moaning mother, a doofy dad and bad lighting. And the crunchy stuff can get ridiculously heavy-handed sometimes. I totally get it. Hey, I talk about vaginas with a room full of strangers every Monday night. I’m not just willing to laugh at all of it, I do. And there’s quite a bit of laughter in the classes, as well.
But while I can see that everyone here is being mocked– the gutless, squeamish students, the holier-than-thou teacher, and the orgasmic birth couple– a lof of the humor relies on an assumed disgust with the female body. I don’t know who wrote the sketch (I hope not Tina Fey) but Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph came of age back when women still had some pubes. You’d think they might scoff a little at the full-on hairy bush joke. At the end of watching it I just thought, really? We’re really just going to laugh about how gross pubes and placentas are?
There are so many things they could have been done!
What about Kristen Wiig as an wannabe Broadway actor-turned-childbirth educator? She’s talking about the uterus and cervix, but uses the class as an opportunity to unleash her “theatrical” talents. Or how about if the childbirth educator has no boundaries and keeps talking about her own life and births? And projecting onto every couple her own marital problems? Or maybe have a depressed middle-aged man teach the class; he does driver’s ed on the weekends and picked up these classes to make a little extra cash. Come on people, fish-out-water, idiosyncratic characters, something other than ha, ha those pubes and placentas!
I’d just love to see mainstream comedy about birth take a turn away from this crap about *crazy* women and natural birth bitches. Knocked-Up was a disappointment in this area, too. It’s been a while since Monty Python got it right. But I always have strange reactions to this stuff because I used to write comic screenplays for a living. So while I’d love to watch a send-up of my life’s work right now, I can’t help cringing at all the missed opportunities.
What do you think? Funny? Sexist? Who cares, pubic hair is funny, get over it?
(Below is the famous Monty Python sketch from the 70s, a different angle)