MONIKA SMITH ALWAYS GETS THE LAST LAUGH

In the world of Prank TV shows, Monika Smith is one of the shining stars. This actress has numerous film and TV credits in her list of credits but made her mark early on with shows like Disaster Date (as the name implies, a program about horrible dating experiences) and Who Gets The Last Laugh (WGTLL). WGTLL pitted famous comedians against each other to see who can pull the most outrageous prank. Smith was one of the comic actors on the show who acted out the parts dictated by these comedians. Possessing a strong background in improvisation as well as being extremely confident and convincing was a necessity for the actors on WGTLL. Monika saw the show as a chance to challenge herself. She states, “I love pranking. I think it has helped me hone my skills as an actor and I am very fortunate for this experience. As I move forward in my career I am continually trying to challenge myself with the roles I play.” WGTLL, produced by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg for TBS, resulted in Smith working alongside household comedy names like D.L. Hughley, Alan Thicke, Tom Green, and many others. Smith concedes that she particularly enjoyed working with so many comedians whose work she has enjoyed for so long. Monika relates, “. It was so much fun to work with Cherie OTeri. I grew up watching her on SNL. She had made me laugh for so many years with her work so it was particularly fulfilling for me to make her laugh. Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall was the same for me. He was a celebrity guest and Kids in The Hall is a very famous Canadian comedy show that I grew up watching. That show shaped a lot of people’s comedy styles. To make Kevin laugh was thrilling. At one point he was complimenting me about how funny I was and I was thinking to myself, ‘I watched your show over and over at home in my pjs growing up!’ Those are the pinch me moments that a lot of us aspire to achieve.”  WGTLL Producer Nick Kriess adds his comments to Smith’s other admirers noting, “Monika struck me as an actor to keep an eye out for when she came in to audition for Punk’d.  She was incredibly captivating during the auditioning process, showing a clear sense of direction; she knew how to grab your attention and keep you mesmerized.  I brought her along with me on TBS show Who Gets the Last Laugh?, a hidden camera comedy television series that saw some of the industries’ most well-known comedians going up against three guest comedians to see who could pull off the most outrageous practical jokes on the unsuspecting public.  Monika was a series regular on the show.  She was critical to the project because she had to convince ‘normal’ people to do the crazy tasks that the comedians were coming up with.  There aren’t a lot of actors that can stay in character during insane situations and convince people to do absurd things, but Monika is one of those actors who can. Who Gets the Last Laugh? was a hit due in large part to Monika’s extensive improv background.  Monika has managed to make a strong career out of her fantastic comedic sensibilities and her amazing way of always knowing the best direction to take a scene in no matter what is thrown her way.  She went neck and neck with some of the biggest celebrity comedians in the game and stood her ground, sometimes even completely overshadowing them.  Monika’s leading role on the production catapulted her into being the fan favorite, directly resulting in the one million plus viewers Who Gets the Last Laugh? received each episode.  Monika is a very unique actor in that she can convince people of just about anything.  For example, on one of the most hilarious and popular episodes, Monika had to convince an unsuspecting person that her dance partner was cheating on her and was subsequently going after the person’s significant other.  This task would be a very hard one to accomplish for most people, but it was almost too easy for Monika.  She is a class act and has helped the series succeed as both a piece of entertainment and a showcase for what makes Monika such a professional and amazing actor to work with. Monika has accumulated many impressive credits in a number of major film and television productions in the global entertainment industry for several years now.”

Monika Smith has created a unique situation for herself in the entertainment industry. At a young age she had a successful international modeling career with Ford and Elite. Rather than make this her life’s work, she pursued her love of comedy and joined the Second City Touring Company in Toronto. Recognizing the opportunities available to her, she relocated to LA where she began performing on harold, maude and house teams at UCB, as well as Second City and Nerdist. She has taught improv at Second City, UCB, Nerdist, and even internationally in China. The unique combination of her physical presence, comedic instincts, and acting abilities made her the first call for shows like WGTLL. The programs lead performers needed to be eye catching, persuasive, fast thinking, and able to stay in character longer than almost any other actors. Smith explains, “Who Gets the Last Laugh, and the numerous prank shows I’ve done have made me a better actor. I was forced to be in character in front of real people for hours sometimes. With only a mic on my person, and an ear bud letting me know what was happening in the scene, I was able to convince real people that I was a crazy person. It was hard work and it was thrilling. There are no second takes as you have to have your ‘mark’ (the real people) believe you the first time. It’s a skill that I think has made me a better actor.”

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Smith states that the X factor which makes her scenes so demanding but also so highly educational for her is the “marks.” She emphasizes that working with an unknowing participant, although similar to improv sketch comedy, can pull you in directions that are completely unexpected. Monika confirms that she is often relieved when her true motives are revealed to the “mark”, but the experience is well worth the small amount of uneasiness. It is often bewildering to witness what some individuals will allow her to do during the pranks. Recalling some of her favorite moments on WGTLL, she states, “On the show I played various characters and tricked real people into believing that this character and these odd situations were real. I played an intern that accidentally discovered classified government papers. I made people believe that the FBI was after us. On another episode I called a locksmith and had them open a jewelry store that I told them was mine. Once they unlocked the door I proceeded to steal all the jewels and leave them in the store. I had to convince these people not only that I owned a jewelry store, but I also got them to open the safe. You can discover whether or not you are truly convincing in the role you are playing in these situations. That’s the type of immediate feedback that confirms if your acting instincts are correct.”

Monika Smith can be seen in a number of films and television programs, most recently starring alongside Patrick Stewart and Adrian Scarborough in the STARZ series Blunt Talk (Golden Globe nominated). All of these opportunities are the reason she moved to Los Angeles. She feels confident that she has chosen the right environment here in LA stating, “I had thought about moving to NY, as I had worked there when I was modeling and loved the city. But, LA is where TV and movies are cast and I thought it was the smartest option. It’s a wonderful city where art is being created just about everywhere.”

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