One Funny Mother Dena Blizzard on Kids, Quarantine, and Crisis
Sometimes it’s good to follow advice. Sometimes it’s not, and Dena Blizzard knows the difference. She followed the advice she asked for after she lost her first attempt to be crowned Miss New Jersey, and she won the next time around. She dismissed the advice she didn’t ask for, and by standing by her instincts she’s become one of the most-loved moms in the country.
She’s One Funny Mother, and not even quarantine is stopping her.
Dena Blizzard never consciously struck out to be a successful comedian or virtual celebrity. “It really started out as a farce,” she says. She was pregnant with her third child when her husband gifted her a comedy class. Her friends and family knew Dena needed an outlet outside of motherhood, and assumed it would be just that. Dena thought so too at first. “I had zero expectations,” she says, “which is probably the best way to do it.”
That’s pretty much how Dena manages to achieve the things she’s achieved- by focusing more on her drive to do what she does rather than the outcome.
Take, for instance, the hit game Chardonnay Go. The ingenious board game is Dena’s creation, inspired by the Pokemon Go craze that swept through the kids of this country. Moms, Dena figured, could also use some entertainment. So on a lark, she staged a Scavenger Hunt and created a video of herself tracking down glasses of Chardonnay around her neighborhood. Twenty-three million people watched that video and the comments from Viewers overflowed with words like “hilarious.” Of course the Haters took to the keyboards as well, but there is no video anywhere – not about puppies or babies or Santa Claus – that does not attract some level of animosity from chronically angry individuals.
Dena Blizzard laughs as she remembers the response to that video.
If that many women like wine and laughter so much, she figured, she may as well give them a way to enjoy it even more. So she created a board game that has outrageous moves involved and voilà ! A hit was born. The game became so popular that Dena received a call from the city of Chardonnay, in France.
She cracks up as she tells the story of her and her family being flown to France, so she could be the Grand Marshal of the parade in the town of Chardonnay. “We just ruined it,” she laughs, it was so funny.”
Of all the things that could have arisen from her Chardonnay Go video, being the Grand Marshal of a parade in France was not something she could ever have envisioned. That’s what makes Dena so different from the people who go about their lives in a a rigid, goal-oriented fashion. If she had discovered the town of Chardonnay before she created the video and game, and created the goal of being a VIP guest and grand Marshal of the parade, odds are she would never have made it happen. Following the flow of inspiration and creativity is what leads her to moments and achievement like that, not following the goal.
She entered the Miss New Jersey pageant not out of a goal to be a Beauty Queen, but as a means to make some money. She knew nothing about hair and makeup, and she competed in the dress she’d worn for her Junior prom. Even so, she won the talent award. The following year she returned undaunted. This time, she asked the other contestants for advice.
Her fellow competitors patiently obliged Dena, offering tips on makeup, hair, and all the beauty aspects of the competition. At some point though, they realized Dena was applying that advice well. She’d become a threat, and they became less eager to help. But it was too late for them; Dena walked away with the crown.
Knowing when to ask for advice is as critical as knowing when to ignore it.
When she first began taking comedy seriously, the feedback she got from Bookers was that motherhood jokes were not going to win audiences over. “Can you talk about subways or dating,” they’d ask? But Dena didn’t ride the subway and she no longer dated. She was then and is now a wife and a mom, and motherhood is the topic she specializes in.
This is the critical point in her story. It’s the critical point in everyone’s story. Knowing when to stick to your gut feeling – your own conviction that you are doing what is best for you, in spite of the Naysayers. All too often, this is the point that people give up on their dreams instead of doubling down on them. Dena didn’t even have a clearly defined dream at that time. She just knew what she wanted to do and what she did best, and she knew that there was, in fact, an audience for it.
Dena Blizzard understands her humor is not for everyone.
She also understands her humor and content do resonate with plenty of others – like the tens of thousands of people who join here live on Facebook every Tuesday night for Tipsy Tuesday.
“I drink on the Internet every Tuesday at 9pm” (EST). Up to 50,000 people have logged on at once for some casual conversation and a hefty amount of good-natured jokes at Dena’s family’s expense.
“We’re not really doing anything important or valuable,” Dena says.
We respectfully disagree with her on that. Now more than ever, connection and humor are critical. Even before the days of quarantine, Tipsy Tuesday became an important opportunity for moms -and plenty of dads- to kick back and connect with others. Military spouses struggling to raise kids and hold the house and career together while their spouse is deployed, moms who don’t get out much anymore but really want to socialize, and parents of kids with special needs who deeply connected with Dena’s raw and emotional video about her daughter.
Her audience has gotten to know Dena so well, she even gets messages from them reminding her to take the garbage out!
“I love you. Get away from me!”
Dena’s laughter as she says this makes it hard for her to speak, but she manages to explain that this is one of the phrases on her new line of t-shirts. It seems particularly fitting for the present day, when finding humor in quarantine is challenging.
The idea of comedy, says Dena, is seeing the humor in the same things everyone else sees in one dimension. She is unencumbered by fear of failure or public perception, because she acts without those in mind. Everything she does comes straight from a place of sincerity and is backed with positive messages of supporting one another through challenges. Humor is both her gift and her tool for leading herself and others through life, come what may.
The magic behind Dena is that she is unique to herself while also managing to be representative of so many of us. Her humility is as genuine as her humor and her obvious love for her family. She’s built her own version of the American Dream doing nothing but following her instincts and her heart, and sharing it all with the world.
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