Julia Sweeney has appeared on vaunted stages in California and New York, including Saturday Night Live.
But her next gig is in Evanston at the cozy SPACE stage, starting October 15 at 4 p.m. This television and movie actress is working on material for a new book currently titled “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother,” using the same process her friend and fellow humorist David Sedaris uses to hone his writing.
“David reads his material, and edits based on the audience’s reaction,” says Sweeney. She tried this technique with her first book project, “Letting Go of God”—which she’s put on hold—at the Knitting Factory in L.A.
She’s excited not only to read, but also to chat with the audience about the material. “I hope someone will stay and talk to me,” she says with a laugh.
From Ensemble to Solo
After leaving Saturday Night Live and retiring her famous character, “Pat,” Sweeney’s life changed dramatically. Her brother died of lymphoma and she battled cervical cancer. Her first one-woman show—“God Said Ha!”—came out of those dark moments.
Sweeney adopted a baby girl, and her experience becoming a single mother was the material for her next show, “In the Family Way.”
She then chronicled her journey from good Catholic girl to atheist in the show “Letting Go of God.”
How Julia Got to the North Shore
When she met her husband, who lived in Evanston, he volunteered to move to L.A., where Sweeney and her daughter lived.
“But in the end, we came to him,” she says. “The North Shore is totally set up for families and kids.” She then told me a funny story about the first time she drove her daughter to gymnastics. “First, I couldn’t believe I got there in 5 minutes, and then there was parking. Acres and acres of open spaces. I got choked up.” The L.A. girl fell in love with Chicago.
If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother
The book she’s working on—and Sweeney isn’t entirely sure of the title, “It’s from a pillow,” she says—is about her next phase of life: parenting.
“I’m not entirely sure what right I have to do this, since my daughter is only 11,” she says, cheerfully admitting that she still has plenty of time to mess things up. But as we talk about her experiences, and point of view, it’s clear Sweeney has a lot to say, and a lot that’s funny. Here’s a sneak preview of “The Talk,” which Sweeney performed at the TED conference. It’s the monologue that led to her current book deal.
To purchase tickets for Julia Sweeney’s upcoming Space workshops, click here.