Jen Childs Is Afraid of Failure

Deathly so. Plus, the co-founder of all-comedy theater company 1812 Productions talks bourbon, embarrassing music, and her new show opening this month, It’s My Party.


My name is … Jen Childs. On my dad’s side of the family I go way back to the Mayflower, I think, and Childs is a very old American type of name.

I live in … South Philly, hon, in a rowhome that is 100 years old.

If you’re making me a drink … you’ll want to put bourbon in it.

The last time I drove a car was … 12 years ago, for a movie. I don’t drive. It’s my lot to be chauffeured.

The funniest film I’ve ever seen … is Young Frankenstein. There’s nothing else like it.

Comedy is … necessary, transformative and how I make my living. It’s also the hardest of all art forms. Failure is so instantly felt.

I’ve chosen Philly for my life … because it’s a place where things can happen. It’s full of contradictions, all this scrappy traditional history combined with a lot of really progressive thinkers and people who are moving art and business forward and changing the city in amazing ways. But then you’ve still got those waitresses at Villa di Roma.

If I had a pig, I would name it … Hubert. I don’t know why. It just sounds like a good name for a pig.

The first musical recording I ever bought was … Shaun Cassidy, the one with “Da Doo Ron Ron” on it. I’m 44. There are probably Justin Bieber fans who will have similar feelings 30 years from now.

When I was 16 … I lived in England for a bit with my father. That was the first time I saw Shakespeare: Kenneth Branagh in Henry V, in London. It was life-altering.

When I want to relax … I go to the steam room at the gym.

My daughter … is named Lily. She’s nine. I ask her questions like, “Does it feel like you have to throw up, or are you crampy?” She says, “Mom, if my pain was a stone, it would not be an arrowhead but a skipping stone, because it comes and goes in waves.” That was at three in the morning.

I go to church … pretty regularly, at St. Peter’s. My dad’s a pastor, so I grew up in church. My first kiss and breakup and everything happened there.

It’s My Party is about … women and comedy. My daughter turned seven the same year my mother turned 70, and they’re both such funny people in such different ways. And I wondered: Does a woman’s comedy transform as she ages? That’s where this show came from.

If I didn’t live here, I’d want to live in … France. My husband’s family has a house in Normandy, and it’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cows and corn and apples. You have to drive to a nearby town to get wi-fi, or “wee-fee,” as they call it.

My height … is not much. Five feet on a good day. When I was at UArts, I had a teacher tell me to consider a career in radio because I was too short to be taken seriously. Now I have my own company, and she has passed away.

One thing you can’t do better than me … is the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. I do it every Sunday, and I can finish them in 20 minutes. Ish. Depends on how often my daughter comes in and out.

I am deathly afraid of … failing.