The Terrifying Laughter of Parenthood
Award-winning comedy Maybe Shower comes home
Lex Lybrand just flew in from Oregon, and boy are his arms tired. In fact, all of him is tired. He caught the red eye back from the Portland Comedy Film Festival, where his Austin-made comedy Maybe Shower swiped the Best Comedy Feature award. Now the maternity comedy comes back home, too: not just to Austin, but to Spider House, where Lybrand estimates around 90% of the movie was shot. It follows three friends (Kelsey Thomas, Megan Simon, and Rachel DeRouen) who all think they may be pregnant, and so decide to have a maybe shower – basically one last mad hurrah before deciding what to do with their potential news. (It's also a way to inform the potential fathers with lots of booze to hand.)
Lybrand's fourth feature marks a big change for the writer/director: Not only is it his graduating project for his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art, but it's also given him an opportunity to see regular audiences laugh with his work. His last film, patent law satire The Trolls, "screened at a couple of comedy-specific festivals, but I didn't get to go to any of them. The biggest screening I went to was in a room full of tech nerds and intellectual property nerds, so it was a very specific audience."
So Maybe Shower's premiere, in a theatre packed with fellow filmmakers and comedy fans, was his first real opportunity to see how one of his comedies played in front of a broader crowd. Lybrand said, "I could tell by what people were laughing at how many people in the theatre had kids, because they were laughing at the parent jokes, and how many people never want kids ever, because they were laughing at the autobiographical stuff that I put in there."
Not that Lybrand has ever had a near-miss with pregnancy. However, the opening scene – featuring exactly the kind of kid that would put anyone off breeding – came from a real experience of seeing a toddler threatening to throw down on his mother in a convenience store. No wonder so many horror movies cast children as the Devil. Lybrand said, "They start parroting stuff they don't really understand, and so it's even creepier when they kind of get it right. The kid that inspired that scene, he didn't realize that he was threatening to beat the shit out of his mom. That's just what kids say to other kids when they want them to do something on the playground. He didn't think that he was going to give goosebumps to the married couple one aisle over."
Lybrand is no stranger to horror, having directed Simon and other cast members (including local improv comedian and actor John Gholson) in 2015's Southern Gothic road trip Meet Me There. In fact, early cuts of that opening scene leaned too hard into the terrifying aspects of siring spawn. "My MFA advisor told me that there was too much tension," he said, "so I had to pull that back, because tonally, as a cold opening, it would give you the wrong idea for the rest of the film. It's not quite that pessimistic."
Maybe Shower Texas premiere with cast and crew Thursday, April 5, 6:30pm, Spider House Cafe and Ballroom, 2908 Fruth. Tickets at www.maybeshower.com.