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Funniest moms ready for a laugh

The professional comedy trio known as "Mama's Night Out" will come to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this Friday, Nov. 7, for a one-night-only show at 8 p.m.

This trio of women -- Karen Morgan, Nancy Witter and Sherry Davey -- met through their common participation in Nick at Night's first "Search for the Funniest Mom in America."

"We were 3 of the top 10 (finalists)," said Davey in a telephone interview. "There's so much down time when you shoot a TV show...we struck up a friendship, and we got along famously."

But while the three women talked about doing a tour together once the TV competition was ended, it wasn't until Morgan was tapped to come up with some talent for a local cancer fund raiser in her hometown that they finally decided to put together a comedy act.

"We sold out the theater (500 seats) for two shows," said Morgan. "We were really pleased with the initial response."

Those shows, on Nov. 3, 2005, were the genesis of the "Mama's Night Out" Comedy Tour, which has sold out venues across the country over the past four years.

The format of the show is simple: "We each have our own material, and each of us does about half an hour (of stand up)," said Wittwer. "Then at the end, the three of us come out and do a tribute to vaudeville...each of us tell about four or five of our favorite old vaudevillian jokes."

But for their individual routines, the three comics rely upon their own life experiences.

"I got into comedy when my daughter was born," Wittwer said. "Labor was the biggest shock of my life...I said it was the worst pain I've ever been in, but I also remember thinking it's going to make a great story. And it did."

"I was an actress first, but my grandfather was a standup (comic) in England when I was growing's in my blood," said Davey, who now lives in Brooklyn. "I took a class (in standup comedy) 14 years ago, and I've never stopped since. I knew I'd found my niche."

Davey said much of her comedy routine is focused on berating men for their foibles.

"They deserve every lick of abuse they get," she said with a laugh.

"I was a trial attorney," said Morgan. "I had three kids all under the age of three, and I said, 'I have to get out of the house.' So I took a standup comedy course...then the Nick at Night thing happened. I did not go back to practicing law.

Instead, she and her fellow comedians are on the road doing shows an average of 2-3 weekends a month.

They tend to do weekend shows only, because Davey and Morgan still have young children to care for at home (Wittwer's two children are in their 20s now). On the weekends, their husbands take on the parenting duties.

"When I first started, (the comedy routine) was mostly about my kids. Now it's more from everyday life," Morgan said. "To be a successful standup, you have to be able to let your audience members connect with something (in the routine) can't be too obscure. It has to have something they can relate to."

"All of the material is original, and all of it is true, or based on truth," Wittwer added. "It may be slightly exaggerated for comedy purposes.

"Without any tragedy or angst, there's no comedy. No one's laughing."

The key, Wittwer adds, is to be funny without being mean. "Whatever it is we talk about just rings true to the people in our audiences."

Friday's show will kick off with a pre-party in the Holmes Ballroom, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a cash bar featuring a specialty drink, appetizers for sale and a "Mama's Amazing Race Competition." Tickets for the show are $25 for adults and $12.50 for students and can be purchased at or by calling the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW. Groups of 10 or more save 10 percent on tickets, and 20 or more save 20 percent. "Mama's Night Out" is underwritten by Foltz Trucking.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454