After spending any amount of time with KT Speetzen, you find yourself awash in enthusiasm. The award-winning former teacher-turned stand-up comedian – who fills the Chicago suburb of La Grange with laughter as the founder and host of The Mother Cluckers – has a knack for empowering all in her orbit.
As a speaker and storytelling-trainer, she has shared her secrets for captivating an audience with entrepreneurs, business groups and even politicians in Illinois and beyond. “I believe that anyone can be funny, and I enjoy helping people hone those skills so they can be ‘on’ when they need to be and they can connect in an authentic way,” Speetzen explained prior to a Mother Cluckers performance at Anderson’s Bookstore.
At the heart of her storytelling, speaking, teaching and performing is Speetzen’s uncanny ability to find the funny in everyday experiences, which unites a group of individuals into a rousing chorus of laughter. “My very first stand-up was about making fun of my dad,” she said. “He was obsessed with Sting’s “Ten Summoner’s Tales” that ‘If I ever Lose My Faith in You’ was on. After hearing that song all the time for four years, I had to air my grievances publicly. Now, I’m making fun of my kids, so apparently my family is easy pickings. I like to tell stories about funny things that I think everyone can relate to. I’m also very big on self-deprecation.”
Speetzen affectionately likens The Mother Cluckers to The Kates. And just as The Kates’ founder Kelsie Huff has inspired so many women to fall in love with the art of stand-up in Chicago, Speetzen is continuing to spread the comedy contagion to the suburbs. She finds humor present within everyone, a trait that has led her to encourage other moms at the playground to exchange their diaper bags for microphones.
“When we think about moms – the stereotype of the suburban mom – we don’t think that we get a second act to do something new,” she said. “So, I’m excited to give anyone who wants an opportunity a chance.”
The idea to start The Mother Cluckers came to Speetzen at the crossroads of defiance and inspiration. “I was at the Women’s March in D.C. with Kelsie Huff and Elizabeth Gomez and all those fantastic broads, and I realized in that moment of time that I was afraid of everything and the Apocalypse might be nigh, so I thought let’s just do it,” she explained.
She now has a roster of more than 30 comedians who perform at her popular monthly showcase, and she’s gearing up to launch a new travel log/business podcast and web series, “The Bossy Cluckers,” with co-host Kathy Austin this March. On top of all that, The Mother Cluckers are celebrating a major milestone this spring. “We have our one year anniversary show here at Anderson’s Books in April, and I can’t believe it. It’s been really, really fun,” Speetzen said.
Final Five Questions with KT Speetzen
What makes you laugh?
Honestly, my four-year-old. When she gets on a roll, she’s nuts, like look out. She’s very, very funny. And my six-year-old too. When the two of them get together it’s really funny.
Do you have a favorite joke either that you do or you love from another comedian?
I guess it goes back to the first joke that really made me realize the power of stand-up. Margaret Cho had a special, she didn’t call it her “Leather Special,” but that’s what I call it in my mind. I was maybe 10, and it was a Saturday and I was bored. I was flipping through and I saw her talking about her Korean mother screaming for her over the hills, and I died. I just completely lost it. That was a spark moment for me.
What establishments or landmarks would you recommend for someone to visit in Chicago La Grange?
First stop should be Anderson’s Bookshop – the center of the universe – and then we have our after-party at Barrel House Social, which is a really fun whiskey bar. Owl and Lark is a fantastic independent coffee house, but please don’t like it too much because it’s already getting crowded and that will make me angry.
If you need to workout, there’s a place here called The HIT Locker. Zen Burgos owns it and she was on Bravo’s “Workout” television show. She’s just a nice person. You can workout without falling over and dying, which I appreciate.
Do you have any comedy recommendations to share with the world?
First of all, audiobooks. Get thyself an Audible account and any comedy books that you want to pick up so you can have the comic read it to you. Tiffany Haddish’s “The Last Black Unicorn” is fantastic, and Kevin Hart’s most recent book is almost self-helpy and also hysterical. Those are two that I really liked a lot.
There’s a podcast that I’m going to be on called “Inferior Men.” They’re Chicago-based and it’s a comedy business podcast. They crack me up.
Obviously, The Kates, Las Locas and all of the fantastic females in Chicago. Let’s see, what else? I really liked Jenny Mollens’ “I Like You Just the Way I Am,” that’s a great book. I’m a big comedy reader/listener nerd.
What makes you Rebellious?
I’m a bad *ss Mother Clucker. I think the thing that makes me most rebellious now is raising my daughters to know that who they are is enough and that they are going to be fine no matter what they do. For them to just enjoy the journey and not take it too seriously. I hear about friends whose kids are getting so stressed out so early and I just want to take the power back.