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Improv dynamo Liz Stewart talks comedy special ‘I’m Crowning’

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On her new comedy special, “I’m Crowning,” Liz Stewart is a little dark, a little twisted … and a whole lot pregnant.

Filmed when she was literally days away from giving birth, “I’m Crowning” finds the prolific improv and standup comic tackling a variety of subjects, from babies to vampires, sex to drugs, guns and science and demons.

During an interview, Stewart admitted to being a little concerned that her baby might decide to make an early appearance – as in during the filming of the special in Hollywood.

“We gave everyone in the front row a splash guard just in case,” Stewart said. “I always thought that when your water broke, it would look like a Gallagher concert but more graphic.”

A native of Houston, Texas, Stewart says she honed her comedy skills as a means of survival.

“A little humor helps in a variety of situations,” she said. “It gets me out of a traffic ticket half the time and if someone tries to mug me late at night, humor will make them think twice. That and I carry a taser.”

A graduate of Chicago’s legendary Second City, Stewart also studied at the Steppenwolf Theatre and developed an ongoing love affair with standup comedy. In Texas, she taught improvisational comedy to underprivileged high school students as part of the University of Houston’s outreach program.

“The best part of Texas is the food,” Stewart said when I asked her to cite her favorite attribute of the Lone Star State. “Where else can you get Tex-Mex and Cajun? When I lived in Chicago, I would go to a Tex-Mex restaurant and I would be like ‘This isn’t Tex-Mex. Let me into that kitchen now!’”

Preparing for the filming of your first comedy special must be a stressful situation, I say to Stewart. Did the awareness that she was only days away from giving birth add to that stress?

“I needed something to get me out of my head and keep me from thinking about what was going to happen to my body when I gave birth because this was my first baby and I heard it can be very painful and I was very scared.”

As it turned out, Stewart says the most difficult part of having her baby involved trying to get some sleep in her hospital room.

“The nurses kept popping into my room every hour saying ‘Hey, are you OK? Do you need some drugs or paperwork?’ I had just pushed for four hours and I needed to sleep. I said ‘Why don’t you back up and take care of this baby while I catch some sleep. That would be great.’”

Stewart devotes part of her special to the obvious fact that she was about to experience the miracle of childbirth, even lifting her shirt to prove how close she was to the big day.

I told Stewart that her child will have a great story for her friends in the future when they sit down to watch “I’m Crowning.”

“Maybe,” she said. “When she’s old enough to watch it, which will be like … age 16.”

(Liz Stewart’s “I’m Crowning” is available on demand from Amazon, Comcast, iTunes, XBOX, Steam, Vimeo, Google Play and all digital and physical audio retailers.)

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