Being a comedian is a tough gig, requiring talent and guts. Most people have neither the comic chops nor the courage to walk out on a stage and make strangers laugh.

For Trinity High School grad and former Oak Park resident Lynn DaCosse, stage fright runs a distant third to other things she’s experienced in her 44 years. Try motherhood, bub. Try breast cancer. Fear of bombing in front of an audience? That’s for wusses.

In a previous life, DaCosse, who holds a master’s degree, was a professional woman dressed in suits, for a time sitting on the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission. Then she became a stay-at-home mom. It was, let’s say, an adjustment. Rather than motherhood and apple pie, DaCosse suggests, the reality of domesticity is motherhood and baby poop, sticky fingers and exhaustion. Sort of like, “I love you all dearly, but oh, you kids.”

After graduating from Second City’s Player’s Workshop, DaCosse decided to take her thoughts on motherhood onstage. In January 2006, she started a one-hour standup comedy bit, “Life with the Flaps Down,” built around the travails and indignities of stay-at-home motherhood.

“I’m blessed to have four kids, but …” said DaCosse, laughing. “You have to laugh at it or you’ll cry.”

So she laughs at the sundry absurdities she confronts as a mom and shares them with others. There’s one bit called “The Potty Training Blues.” Another delves into the ways mothers adapt to an environment peopled by children.

“I do a take-off on channeling your inner nanny,” said DaCosse, “your inner Mary Poppins.”

Being an intelligent adult spending endless hours with little people can lead to unique coping behaviors.

“I’d be so bored I’d imitate different singers doing kids songs,” she said. “Do ‘Itsey bitsy spider’ like Cher.

DaCosse said comedy is “in my blood.” Her brother, John has been a professional comedian for 20 years, and is currently the MC at Zanies comedy nightclub in Chicago.

Cancer and comedy

DaCosse’s trials and tribulations were only beginning though. Four months after starting her act, DaCosse was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She was no stranger to the disease-her mother died from it in 1982 while DaCosse was a student at Trinity. She underwent chemotherapy, 35 radiation treatments over six months, and a lumpectomy.

“It was invasive. It spread,” she said matter-of-factly. “It’s awful, no question. It’s devastating.” And debilitating. The treatment ended Jan. 25, 2007. One year removed, she’s getting her stamina back.

DaCosse didn’t wait to get back on stage, however. In April, 2007, she did a breast cancer benefit at Zanies with her brother that raised $6,300. It benefited her as well.

“It was magical,” she said of the night.

DaCosse has chosen to laugh at both her frustrations and her fears-and there’s always plenty of material.

“The fear never goes away,” she said of her experience with cancer. “You’re always afraid of a recurrence. But the beauty is, you go on and live your life.”

Life certainly hasn’t stopped throwing challenges her way. Right after cancer treatment ended, DaCosse’s husband lost his job. “We sound like a bad country and western song,” she quips.

Now she’s looking to inspire others to have a few laughs about their problems, and in the process find the will to move on. DaCosse said she also has a 30-minute stand-up act focused on surviving breast cancer. It’s one she performs only for other survivors.

“You need a reference point for that humor,” she said. Everyone, though, needs to be able to laugh at life, whatever their circumstances.

“I hope people see me and say, ‘Gee, she went through chemo and she’s up there onstage. If she can do that, I can do the laundry.”

Flaps down, living it up

Tomorrow night, Jan. 17, DaCosse will take the stage at Trinity’s auditorium for a special benefit performance of “Life with the flaps down.” The evening begins outside the Trinity Auditorium, 7574 W. Division St., River Forest with a 6:30 pm, cash bar and complementary appetizers. DaCosse goes on at 8 p.m. For more information, contact Marigayle Harrington, 708/453-9391 or e-mail Tickets are $20 per person and benefit Trinity High School and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

By the way, DaCosse won’t say what “Life with the flaps down” refers to for publication.

“That would spoil the joke,” she said. “You’ll have to go to the show.”

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