Take Two for April 8, 2013

Julia Sweeney's new memoir chronicles her path from 'SNL' star to suburban mom

Book cover for Julia Sweeney's memoir "If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother."

Clockstoppers

Sebastian Artz/Getty Images

Actress Julia Sweeney arrives with her daughter at the premiere of the movie, 'Clockstoppers' March 17, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA.


Actress Julia Sweeney made a name for herself in the 1990s as a cast member of Saturday Night Live with the infamous androgynous character It's Pat.

In the years since, she's continued to impress audiences with TED talks, appearances on This American Life and powerful one-woman shows about her loss of faith in God and her brother's battle with cancer. 

But she's been pretty busy off-stage, too: She adopted a daughter from China, got married to a guy she was set up with by a fan, and left Los Angeles for suburban Illinois. Julia Sweeney has written about these personal experiences and many more in her new book "If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother." 

Interview Highlights: 

On how a needle point stich pillow inspired the title of her memoir:
"When my mother first gave it to me, I had just left 'Saturday Night Live,' and I guess it reminded me of Gilda Radner's character, 'It's always something — if it's not one thing it's another' ... I just didn't like it, I thought it was just very 'punny' in a way that I didn't like, and so I kind of put the pillow away. As soon as I became a mother myself I instantly realized that it was in fact hysterical! So I put it on my daughter's bed and when people would go around the house they would see it and laugh, and then when my daughter was about seven she came in to the kitchen with the pillow and said, 'This is not funny at all, I don't want it in my room! Take it away!' I just thought that was a good story to start the book off with, the evolution of a sense of humor."

On trying to introduce her daughter to Santa Claus:
"I was confronted with this idea while looking at this innocent face, that looks at me for truth, and lying [to her] about Santa Claus. I couldn't do it. So I didn't say anything about Santa Claus and then when she had just turned four, I reversed course and thought 'I'm a terrible mother! This is a wonderful thing!' Then I did tell her about Santa Claus, but she was too old, so I just ended up scaring the hell out of her. 

"I said there's a guy, he's been watching you, he knows if you're good or bad — Then she looked at me terrified — and based off his knowledge of your behavior, which by the way I think has been very good, he'll bring you gifts, he'll sneak in our house while we're sleeping and he's going to leave presents based on your behavior! Then she was completely freaked out, wouldn't sleep in her own room, and when I came into our bedroom in the morning where she was sleeping I said, 'I think he's been here!' She sat up in bed and started screaming, and it was completely a whole bungled experience."

On what she'll write about in the future:
"I have to say that being single is a goldmine for comedians, because you have constant stories happening. Being in a happy marriage is a not a good thing for a comedian, but there are plenty of other things to happen. The next book I write I want to write more in depth about religion. I've done this project where I go to a different church every Sunday, that has a lot of funny stuff involved in it and I guess I'm turning my attention to those kinds of things outside the family unit, but still observational stuff about the world."


She'll be appearing at Book Soup in West Hollywood on Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. 

EXCERPT: Chp. 1 — If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney


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