Julia Sweeney creates comedic works that tackle deep issues: cancer, family, faith. Her latest book is “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother,” on parenting and being parented. She performs often with Jill Sobule, telling stories alongside Jill’s songs, in their “Jill & Julia Show.” She has a serious message behind her act as you will find here:

Why you should listen:

In this, as in all her performances, Sweeney projects a warmth and sincerity on stage that’s unmatched in today’s theater; you immediately feel you’re chatting with an old friend. And this gift of intimacy allows her to achieve the impossible: an utterly disarming show that honestly confronts the most controversial topic of our times. Her earlier shows, God Said “Ha!” and In the Family Way, also garnered praise and prizes for their pairings of humor and poignant truth.

Who is she?

Known for her four-year run on Saturday Night Live and her powerful solo shows, Julia Sweeney is carving out her own territory in entertainment, one that moves between the personal and the political, the controversial and the comical. Her piece Letting Go of God traces a spiritual journey that takes an unexpected turn toward science (a turn that, incidentally, also led her to TED) and ends with atheism. Her latest book is If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother, on parenting and being parented.


  1. What seems like an innocent question about frogs, from her 8 year old daughter, starts Sweeney down a very strange road in answering a series of follow up questions. Do you ever remember asking a question that led to more answers than you really wanted?
  2. In terms of her skit, the discussion seems very natural. Do you think her daughter is precocious?
  3. Is the fact that we can get answers to questions anywhere, anytime, often with visuals available, a good or bad thing for our society?
  4. Many adults lament the “lost Innocence” of childhood. Is this an example of people seeing a “golden age” in the past, or are we forgetting such facts as child labor and girls married at 13 or 14 in our remembering?
  5. From frogs, to cats, to dogs, to people was the progression of Mulan’s questions. In Sweeney’s skit this boils down to the same conversation. Would this short timeline be likely for most children?
  6. At what age, even if you have never seen it, did you become aware that internet pornography existed?

It’s time for “The Talk”, with Julia Sweeney


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