If there’s one thing that’s true for moms, it’s that they could all use a good night out.
Thankfully, comedians/viral video sensations Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley — of the top-trending Web series #IMOMSOHARD — are here to help.
Currently on a nationwide tour (coming to DeVos Performance Hall on July 9), Hensley and Smedley are enduring what many moms do during the summer months — they’re taking their families on an extended vacation. They just also happen to be throwing the best possible party for their network of fans and moms along the way.
With more than one million Facebook fans and millions of views on their comically confessional videos online, the duo has hit on an honest need for laughter in motherhood that has gone overlooked during the age of helicopter parenting and child-rearing blogs.
And in just over a year’s time, the duo’s frequently wine-enabled straight talk has cut through it all, from bedtimes to Pinterest, picky eaters to Spanx.
“The most wonderful part of this has been the live tour because it puts faces to these likes and shares and comments,” Hensley said. “The moms are out. Women are out. Some dudes come out. And we just celebrate being together. Jen and I often say it’s really not about us. It’s really about getting to spend time together with your bestie, your group of girls or people you haven’t seen in forever. Maybe you dress up, maybe you don’t, but you’re out for one night and just laugh and have a good time, and it’s really special.”
That special connection surfaced early online, with fans quickly sharing their own stories and struggles in reaction to the duo’s hilarious honest videos, and soon a supportive community of moms emerged around the hashtag.
“There is a lot of this stuff that women talk about with their best friend, but not publicly, so we’re just bringing those best friend conversations public,” Smedley said of the start of #IMOMSOHARD.
“I think the idea is that you can have a conversation about a heavy topic and sort of lighten it,” Hensley added. “We just didn’t want to get too heavy, and we didn’t want to give advice, because we’re the last people who should give advice.”
Both originally from Nebraska, Hensley and Smedley attended the University of Nebraska, where they shared a lot of the same friends, but never crossed paths until years later, when they had each ventured out to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams in comedy. Both studied at Second City but still never met, until Hensley caught Smedley doing a small comedy show at an obscure theater where they shared their first laughs over a cooler of beer.
“We very quickly became best friends, and then we met our husbands, and had kids, so the rest was just a boulder rolling downhill,” Hensley said.
Taking a pause from comedy to start their families, they soon felt antsy to get creative again and decided to turn the camera on themselves for what was supposed to be an honest look at the challenges of being a mom.
“In our first episode, we tried to be really perky and really happy, and we wanted to show moms that there’s a happy side, but that’s not how we felt,” Hensley said. “I had cystic acne on my cheek and Jen had been up for like three days straight with her baby, and we started and we had a really fancy introduction planned, and then Jen forgot her daughter’s name. And I think that was the universe saying, ‘OK ladies, here’s the path.’”
That path has since taken them to almost overnight online success, and they’re currently working to expand the world of #IMOMSOHARD and create a charity or other program to give back to all the moms who have given them so much.
“We’re (also) hoping to bring #IMOMSOHARD into sitcom form on TV, like an extended version, where everybody gets to meet our husbands, or maybe better looking versions of our husbands,” Smedley said. “Sort of blown-up stories, longer versions of what we’re telling in the Web series. But we’ll always do the Web series, because you get to interact with the moms and there’s nothing like that.”
#IMOMSOHARD Mom’s Night Out: Summer Break Tour
DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
July 9, 7:30 p.m. $38.50-$48.25
devosperformancehall.com, (616) 742-6500