Photos: Erica Berger Photography | Location: Tribeca 360° | Fashion stylist: Christina Pacelli of The Only.Agency | Assistant stylist: Taylor Negrete | Hair & makeup: Glamazon Beauty Cosmetics by Kim Baker.
Regardless of your personal political leanings, it can’t be denied that we’re living in strange times. Every day there’s something new in the headlines that many parents likely struggle to explain to their children. And regardless of your personal parenting philosophy, if you have a toddler, then it’s likely that almost every day there’s a struggle in your household that you need to face with a libation of choice. Even the so-called “relaxing” moments of parenthood can call for sprinkle of wine, as comedian and new mother Desi Lydic can tell you.
“We live kind of close to the river, so we’ll go and lay down a blanket and bring cheese and crackers,” Lydic responds when I ask about how her family—which consists of her, her husband, and their now-18-month-old son, Brixton—likes to unwind during the summer. “And maybe a little wine for my husband and me—I don’t know if that makes us irresponsible parents, but if it does then…?” She trails off intentionally with a raised eyebrow and a knowing smile, clearly implying that she can live with being labeled a little bit irresponsible. “You kind of have to to get through it,” she adds, kidding-but-maybe-not-kidding.
And, because she’s hilarious, when I ask later on about whether she and her husband have different approaches to parenting, I get even more of a sense that she’s the mom you definitely need to add to your playdate group: “Well, I like to drink through it…and he likes to hold me back,” she says with a big laugh.
Of course she’s joking (because she’s a comedian and she literally makes a living by joking) but she’s also touching on the reality that we all have our own way of navigating life’s challenges, and that’s okay. There’s no doubt that Lydic, 35, is a very responsible and loving mother to Brixton—on-set together at our photo shoot on the roof of Tribeca 360°, mother and son couldn’t stop making each other smile (except for when Brixton decided, by way of toddler logic, that he just simply could not stand his mother putting sunscreen on him, despite that it was an absurd 95° in May)—but the fact that she’s game to state the obvious and stage-wink at the fact that parenting is tough and wine is delicious, is part and parcel of the brand of comedy that she deploys to great effect as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
“I was a fan of the show before getting on it, I was a huge fan of Jon [Stewart’s], and it was always a dream,” Lydic says. “I really admired the show and what it had done for so many years—just the perspective it had and the way that it brought insight and knowledge to people who may or may not be watching the news. I didn’t necessarily catch the news every day but I would catch ‘The Daily Show,’ and maybe that’s irresponsible of me, but I got to digest it in a way that felt satisfying, entertaining, light.”
On TDS, Lydic stands out as the only female correspondent, and fans know and love her for smart and sassy segments like “What the Actual Fact?” (a series of segments that fact-checked statements made throughout the 2016 campaign and the early days of the Trump administration–see video below), a nuanced look at the real political views of NRA members (in which she interviewed her own father, a card-carrying NRA member himself, for a result that was funny and informative on both sides of the issue), and a field piece about a group of female Republican voters called the Trumpettes (you just have to watch it). It’s pieces like these that Lydic enjoys doing as much as viewers surely enjoy watching.
“I loved doing ‘What the Actual Fact?’ because I felt like it was so needed at that time. I felt like we weren’t calling out our politicians on the bullshit. It’s a confusing time because you also have different narratives depending on what news source you’re watching. So what is true and what isn’t true? What paper are you supposed to trust? What is fake news and what is the liberal agenda? I really liked having the opportunity to kind of call people out but in a light, funny way,” she explains. “My favorite field piece that I’ve done was probably the Trumpettes [see video below]. Because—ha-ha—this woman…she was fantastic. She was just the best character in every way. I loved her. From the second I walked into that house I was like: ‘Oh, I’m moving in! I’m going to hang out with this woman and I’m going to make her my friend and we’re going to vacation together and it’s going to be fun!’
When Lydic took the correspondent position at TDS in 2015, she had been living in LA (where she’d been since age 19 when she departed from her native Kentucky in search of adventure) working has an actress (MTV viewers may remember her as Val Marks on “Awkward”). She was also six months pregnant. So the TDS job offer was a dream come true for Lydic, who initially got her start doing improv in LA at the Groundlings, but it also meant moving across the country, while heavily pregnant.
“It all happened very fast—packing up and moving and switching doctors and the whole thing,” she recalls. “I had auditioned months before and found out that I got the job when I was very pregnant…then I had to figure out: ‘How do I tell these people that I’m going to look huge on camera and I’m going to be with child the second I start this?’ And I don’t think there’s any other [job] on the planet that would have been like: ‘Great! No big deal! Perfect! We’ll use it! We’ll do stories that involve your pregnancy!’” And sure enough—Lydic rocked her baby bump clear through TDS’s final show of 2015. She also gave viewers the gift of a hilarious segment about “Momsplaining” five months after having Brixton (video below).
Being a parent in the entertainment industry can be a challenge—long days, unpredictable schedules, high levels of pressure—but for Lydic, TDS is not only a collaborative and inspiring work environment, but it also provides her with a level of structure that she finds to be really compatible with motherhood. As a correspondent, she’s involved in her segments at all junctures, from the pitch stage to the final edit, but much of her work is happening within a set schedule. And though she travels a good amount for the show’s field pieces, when she’s in NYC she has morning meetings, she reports to an office on the regular, and the show does its live taping at the same time each day.
“There is a lot of travel with my job [for field pieces], and with that part of it, the hours can be all over the place. But then, with the day in and day out, things are pretty structured. Never before, as an actor, have I had a job that’s been this structured,” Lydic says. “It’s not like the traditional movie or TV set where you have your trailer and you sit and wait and it’s a 15-hour day. A lot of it is really conducive to having a family. And then, just when you think you need a break from your kid, you get put on a field piece and you head to Nebraska to interview a senator about something!”
In addition to navigating the age-old conundrum of juggling time at home vs. time at the office, Lydic is also in the unique position of having a professional life that’s inherently steeped in the politics of this unusual moment in history. It makes for a whole new layer of the work-life balance question, because she wants to use her comedy to positively impact the world her son will grow up in.
“[Having a child] changes your perspective on everything. There are certain things in life that seem so unimportant now, things that I would get caught up in before, like cutting bangs as a mistake… But there are other things that happen in the world and now you see it through a different lens, because now you go: ‘Oh my God, I brought this child into this world and now these things are happening!’ Or: ‘What can I do to try to change these things that frighten me about the environment that he’s going to grow up in?’” she explains. “I want [my son] to know that not everyone needs to live from a place of fear. And just because the President may say it’s okay to grab a woman by the pussy, whether she likes it or not, or that Muslims aren’t welcome in this country, or that we should build a big wall to keep Mexicans out and that they’re all rapists—I want him to know that those things are not true and you don’t have to believe it just because it comes from who we elected as President.”
The existential issue of raising a child in a politically volatile day and age aside, Lydic and her husband Gannon Brousseau (who is the senior VP of the jewelry group of Emerald Expositions, where he oversees luxury jewelry, watch, and antique shows), focus just as much energy on the everyday joys and challenges that are simply part of life with a toddler. It’s tough getting him to stick to a routine as he hits new developmental stages, but it’s fun to see his personality emerge; he loves horses but he hates swings; he’s absolutely adorable, but he still spits up on his mom’s good jackets. And as we learned on-set: He loves sunglasses and bananas but isn’t crazy about sunscreen or extreme heat.
“You have this intense love for someone that you feel like you’ve known your entire life. You dream about it, you think about it, you spend nine months with this little person inside of you and you don’t know what they’re going to be like and then they come out and it’s like: ‘Oh, you’re formed. You’re your own soul, you’re your own person,’” Lydic says. “And then they get a little older and you feel like you can barely keep your head above water and you sort of feel like you’re doing a halfway job of everything, but it’s worth it.”
As Lydic brings her little dude up as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she’s navigating the city as a transplant herself. She admits with a hearty laugh and an exaggerated eyebrow raise that, yes, her son’s childhood in NYC will be quite different from her own in Kentucky.
“[My husband and I] lived in LA for 13 years before we moved here…so we always thought we’d be raising our family there. And before that, I thought Kentucky,” she says. “But it’s great. I love this city. I love everything it has to offer and I love that there’s this feeling that you really have to earn it here. You’re not entitled to anything. New York makes you work for it—so when you have a good day, you’ve earned it… And people in New York love their city. They have so much pride in their city and I hope Brixton always feels that way.”
It may seem like that heartfelt sentiment would be the perfect way to end our journey through Lydic’s adventures in parenting and political humor. But first—because I think she’d want this story to end in LOLs—as they say on “The Daily Show,” here’s your moment of Zen:
“I did grow up in a house that loves to laugh and loves comedy,” Lydic explains when I ask her about how she got into the performing arts, and comedy specifically. To illustrate her point she gave the following example: “My aunt writes these really hilarious limericks that are totally inappropriate. For my wedding, my family got me something that I registered for, which was a crock-pot…but they changed the outside of the box to say ‘Crotch-Pot,’ and when I opened it up, my 78-year-old aunt had written a whole book of recipes that were all sexual innuendo recipes for my new marriage. Like for roasted chicken it was: ‘Spread the thighs apart and tickle…’ So, my aunt has a ridiculous sense of humor!”
To catch Desi Lydic on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, visit cc.com!