This all started six years ago when my friend Bill Foust, the former Dane County district attorney and circuit court judge, alerted me to a theater performance that was opening in New York City.
The title of the show, at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, was, “Doug Moe is a Bad Dad.”
The Upright Citizens Brigade is an improv and sketch comedy troupe that relocated from Chicago to New York in the 1990s. Amy Poehler and Matt Besser were among the original members.
Back in 2011, I wasn’t sure what they had against me. Had they been talking to my kids?
I did a little investigating and found out that the Upright Citizens Brigade included a then 38-year-old actor and comic named Doug Moe. He had a 5-year-old daughter, and had created a show about parenting. I phoned him and we had an enjoyable chat. Among the topics of conversation was the name Doug Moe—he likes it a lot more than I do. More on that momentarily.
The reason for this update is that earlier this month, the “other” Doug Moe—the New York comedian—published a book that was inspired by his stage show six years ago.
It’s called “Man vs. Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting," and it arrives with a nice blurb from Amy Poehler—“Doug Moe has written a delightful and helpful book that gives real advice about the Wild West world of raising children”—and an exceptional short review in The New Yorker.
The magazine notes that Moe “describes the awed affection new fathers may have for their children with relatable humor and genuine insight, offering a promising resource for the curious and the clueless.”
“There are many books for moms that are funny and relatable,” Moe wrote me last week, after I emailed him about the new book. “But I didn’t feel like there was a dad book out there that I related to. So I wrote this book for dads (and moms) who have a sense of humor about how weird parenting is.”
As I mentioned, one reason I got in touch with Moe in the first place was I was curious about how he had handled what for me always seemed like kind of a ridiculous last name: Moe. M-O-E. I mean, look at it. It even looks strange.
When I say it on the phone, ordering a prescription or making a dinner reservation, people will pause, then say, “What? That’s it?”
Yeah, that’s it. And don’t get me started on the “Three Stooges” jokes—how many times I’ve been asked where Larry and Curly are.
“Well,” the other Doug Moe said, “my dad was Doug Moe, and grandfather was Doug Moe.” Clearly, they’re used to it.
I know from my own family that it could have been worse. My dad was Anton J. Moe, but my uncle, my dad’s brother, was named Edgar Allan Moe.
I’m not kidding.
The most famous Doug Moe is not the New York comedian, and certainly not the Midwest journalist, but instead a former college basketball star at the University of North Carolina who later became a head coach in the NBA.
I’ve often wanted to interview the basketball Doug Moe but never have. I have been mistaken for him on occasion. I remember the disappointment on the face of a caddy at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina when he realized the bag he would tote didn’t belong to the “real” Doug Moe.
Another time, in Madison, I took a phone call from a high school basketball coach out East who wanted to ask some questions about my swing offense.
I’m pleased to say that the basketball Doug Moe was regarded as a colorful character during his time coaching in the NBA. He didn’t sink to an interest in expensive suits. A magazine described him as “looking like a taxicab with its doors open.” He also had a Yogi Berra-streak. When an inept team he was coaching played a rotten game even by their standards, Moe said, “Even we could have beaten us.”
The New York Doug Moe told me he’s going to be in Los Angeles next week for a few events promoting his new book. How could I not wish him well? Maybe someday we’ll write a book together, and for the first time in history coauthors won’t have to fight over whose name is listed first on the cover.
Meanwhile, there’s “Man vs. Child.”
“As Father’s Day approaches,” Doug Moe—you know which one—said, “I think it would be an excellent gift for dads who already have a tie and grill set.”
Our Doug Moe is a Madison writer. Read his monthly column, Person of Interest, in Madison Magazine.
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