Theater: Polly Frost’s family values

‘How to Survive Your Adult Relationship with Your Family’

Nov 2, 2011 at 5:00 am
Theater: Polly Frost’s family values
Photo by Erik Kragh

Polly Frost is known for writing humorous essays for The New Yorker, The Atlantic and others, but she also writes horror stories. So who better to focus on the hilarious horror that is dealing with family? In her one-woman show at The Bard’s Town, “How to Survive Your Adult Relationship with Your Family,” Frost shows how every family is uniquely screwed-up, but we are still united by the fact that we all come from screwed-up families.

LEO: What’s your goal with this show?
Polly Frost: I’m not doing stand-up comedy. I have a lot of comedian friends, but I’m a humorist. What I wanted to do was take humor into a very personal realm of storytelling and anecdotes, and bring people to places that are funny but also sad. So it’s really been fun for me to do this show, because people will come up to me afterward and say, “I totally had this experience,” and I love that! I don’t get that on the Internet. I get an email, but I don’t get that person coming up to me afterward and talking about it.

LEO: So, is it monologues? Are you reading from your writings?
PF: It’s me — and it’s totally memorized. I’m totally off-book. It’s 65 minutes. It’s anecdotes, and it’s tips for people on how to survive their adult relationships with their family. The thing is, when I first started doing the show, people during it would laugh, and then would cry, and I would get very upset on the stage, ’cause I’d think, “Oh my god, I’m making people cry,” so I would say, “No, no, I shouldn’t do this” — then afterward people would come up and say, “I loved this because I cried, I laughed, I cried, I laughed,” and I was like, “Oh, OK, good. I’m glad.” (laughs)

LEO: Have people in your family seen it?
PF: Yeah. What I do is make it specific, but I also talk in a more general way about how we all deal with the fact that, no matter how much therapy you’ve had — I mean, I had a very happy childhood — but, you go to New York City and you go into therapy, you just do. No matter how much therapy you’ve had, there’s all these things that happen when you’re an adult, with your family, that you can’t predict. People marry people and bring them into your family, and that changes the dynamic. Your parents can change. You can change. All these things are very interesting, very challenging things to deal with.

I think the family thing is interesting because there’s so much extended family. In my family, the average number of marriages per person is three. My grandparents got divorced in their 80s. The thing that broke them up is my grandfather got this mission in life. He wanted to set the Guinness record for most number of consecutive cruises taken from Florida to the Bahamas. It meant he was going to take a cruise every week. My grandmother didn’t share that. (laughs) So they got divorced.

‘How to Survive Your Adult Relationship with Your Family’
Thursday, Nov. 3
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road • 749-5275
$15; 7:30 p.m.