Maribeth Monroe is one busy lady. She's starring in a new dark comedy for HBO called The Brink about a geopolitical whirlwind that could bring about World War III. She's gearing up to shoot the new season of Workaholics where she plays the perpetually stressed and enraged boss, Alice. Plus, she has to drive to and from the set everyday in the hellish, Mad Max-ian landscape that is LA's daily commute.
"Honestly, it's exhausting," Monroe says just after walking through the door of her home in LA from a long day on the set.
A schedule like that might call for endless massages in her downtime. Monroe, however, doesn't stop acting when the director yells "Cut!" She also spends some of her evenings and weekends at Second City Hollywood or flying around the country with her comedy improv troupe called Lady Town starring Monroe, Jaime Moyer and Kate Duffy. The group will perform a local show at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2nd at the Dallas Comedy House.
The group met at Second City's main hub in Chicago about a year ago while she and Jaime were doing some two-person shows and they decided to invite Duffy to form an all-female troupe, Monroe says.
"We'd been on shows with all men," she says with a laugh. "So we wanted to form an all-female improv group just so we could be around all women. Improv is such a boys' club anyway. It's the white boy brigade pretty much so there were a lot of boy heavy scenes. So I just wanted to form a funny improv group with two funny ladies and have it be very female centric."
Monroe says she feels the choices she can make on stage are wider because she's in an all-girl group.
"Jaime always jokes that we tend to play very non-gender specific," she says. "We play all across the board but I think when you're a team with men, I've definitely played men in teams with men and many mend tend to play women but it's not as easy and common because you play the gender you are. It's liberating to be on a team with one gender because you get to explore roles you wouldn't make as a first choice on a mixed team...It almost broadens the range of choices you can make."
Of course, the ultimate factor in any choice is whether or not it makes them or the audience laugh, she says.
"The thing we enjoy most is trying to make each other laugh," she says. "The goal is to try and enjoy each other as much as possible."
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Shortly after Lady Town joined forces, they quickly started getting invitations to perform at other comedy clubs and festivals and the wave of invitations hasn't let up yet. She and Monroe also perform with the LA improv group The 313 featuring a cast of performers who hail from Detroit.
"The next two weeks, I'm going out of town," she says. "It's not about the money. It's more about the experience and more about the testament and really for the joy of it. At least for me when I'm on sets all day, it's more of a high pressure situation as far as the sets are because you're still dealing with producers and the money to shoot that show and there's a lot of pressure to do a good job and the thing about having [improv] shows to look forward to is it's really fun. You just go out and play and explore your senses of humor together."
Being on a popular TV show like Workaholics has brought some people out to the shows that wouldn't normally watch improv but being on television doesn't change who you are on stage because the goal is always to make the other performers laugh, no matter who's watching, she said.
"I think I feel more guilty about is playing such a bitch on the show and I'm not really like that," Monroe says. "I'm generally pretty nice and the thing I get most is 'You're so nice unlike your character.' I wonder if I should come out in a rage and they can say, 'She's really a bitch in person.'"