Comedian Natasha Leggero writes with candor about her path to parenthood

In new book, the Rockford native describes the anxieties and obstacles she overcame to give birth at 42.

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Comedian Natasha Leggero is treated with dignity by her young daughter in a photo from her book “The World Deserves My Children.”

Elisabeth Caren

For Rockford native and stand-up comic Natasha Leggero, the COVID-19 pandemic offered the exciting opportunity to be wracked with fear for her 4-year-old daughter’s uncertain future.

Leggero had given birth at the age of 42, after rounds of IVF and the use of frozen eggs she stored a few years prior. Unable to tour or work at a TV or film acting job in Los Angeles, where she currently resides, she sheltered in place with her daughter, her husband — fellow comedian and author Moshe Kasher — and poured time into the advice and comedy call-in show, “The Endless Honeymoon Podcast,” which she cohosts with Kasher.

After lockdown began, Leggero noticed a pattern that persists to this day: Folks in their 20s and 30s were generally apprehensive about bringing a child into a world where not only do racism and disease run rampant, but climate change threatens to render it all moot.

Natasha Leggero

Natasha Leggero

When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.
Tickets: $45-$65 (includes a copy of her book)

This observation inspired the title and theme of Leggero’s book “The World Deserves My Children,” in which she wrestles with her own existential dread about the future and shares her distinct journey, both physical and mental, to becoming a mother in her 40s.

On Monday, Leggero swings by City Winery in Chicago, tomes in tow, to perform a reading and stand-up comedy, conduct an audience Q&A and sign copies of “The World Deserves My Children.”

Leggero started writing “The World” before COVID, but after reflecting on those “Endless Honeymoon” calls, she discovered newfound optimism that began to temper some of her anxiety.

“Usually, I’d be doing stand-up and touring, or working on a TV show. [During lockdown,] every comic idea, impulse and thought went into the book. I’m really proud of that, and it made the book so much better,” Leggero says. “After examining [the topic] for these three years, from all these different angles, I came to the conclusion that, yes, we should have children, the world deserves our children. We can’t just let the idiots have kids.”

Leggero has leaned into this air of sophistication and bravado throughout her comedy career. She has recorded four stand-up specials — three for Comedy Central and one, 2018’s “The Honeymoon StandUp Special” for Netflix alongside Kasher (“Betty,” “Kasher in the Rye”). Onstage, she wears long dresses, long gloves and a lavish level of jewelry.

Speaking of opulence, Leggero co-created and co-starred in “Another Period” with comic and friend Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel and Oates, “Knives Out”), which was loosely a spoof of “Downton Abbey” and other period dramas with gargantuan costume and set budgets. Her work also extends to sitcoms (“Dice,” “Broke”), voiceover (“Hoops,” “Brickleberry”) and competitions (“Rat in the Kitchen,” “Last Comic Standing”) in addition to savage appearances on a few Comedy Central roasts, including those of Justin Bieber and Pamela Anderson.

“The World Deserves My Children” exemplifies Leggero’s knack for blending brutal honesty with flights of fancy. With vivid imagery, she discusses the sheer misery she inflicted upon herself in order to get pregnant. In vitro fertilization, she writes, is when “you’re basically turned into Arnold Schwarzenegger injecting steroids a la pumping iron, but instead of getting jacked, you’re getting increasingly hormonal and insane.”

Leggero’s preoccupation with storytelling began at a young age. Growing up in Rockford, Leggero participated in a few regional theater productions, which included some actors commuting from Chicago. She found herself smitten by Chicago institutions, like Steppenwolf, and famous alumni such as John Malkovich and Laurie Metcalf, and decided to pursue a career in acting. After graduating from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, she eventually moved to Los Angeles and tried an open mic at the vaunted club The Comedy Store — still, she claims, her best show to date.

As a child of a modest household in the Midwest, Leggero never considered the performing arts as a viable career, particularly the level of privilege it affords many. “I wasn’t brought up around people who had cleaning ladies and nannies — in Hollywood, you see all these kids being brought up that way,” she says. “I think it was a very down-to-Earth upbringing, complete with working at a grocery store, mowing lawns, working at a Jewish community center — I had all these jobs that informed my work ethic and made me able to work so hard at stand-up when I really sucked at it. I’m really happy for that.”

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