The comedian talks about her mother’s obsessive compulsive disorder, her own depression and marrying her husband for his family

I was born and raised in Evanston, outside Chicago. My dad, Edward Wachs, and my mum, Bertha, fled Austria in 1938. My family were Jewish but they never practised, so it’s not something I really identify with. My dad ran a catering company so we ate a lot of different kinds of hot dogs. We lived on a lake and if you saw it you’d think, “Oh my God, it’s so beautiful!” It was this American Pie happiness but something wasn’t right.

My mother had obsessive compulsive disorder, although I didn’t know it was called that then. Everything had to be incredibly clean and she went around with sponges in both hands, constantly wiping up. I had girlfriends whose mothers would fill their refrigerators full of food but ours only had mayonnaise and my dad’s cigars. My mother would often get hysterical and there was lots of screaming, but rather than deal with it, my father would just turn the opera up on the radio.

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