Dallas Comedy House Takes on True Grit

True Grit The book True Grit is about revenge, persistence, and acceptance. There are shoot-outs, snakes, and sneak attacks. It's a great ball of fun to read, and since we like fun, too, at the Dallas Comedy House, we're participating in this year's Big D Reads by putting our own spin on the classic novel through the magic of improvisation. It's happening Friday, April 17, and two of those involved in the show, Maggie Rieth and Lacey Tomanek, were kind enough to answer a few questions about the event.

Please tell us more about what will happen in "Dallas Comedy House Takes on True Grit." Who all is involved? What will the show be like? Will real horses be involved?

Maggie: It's a pretty fantastic cast! Lots of hilarious and smart people who also know how to read. I think that was the baseline requirement. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a real horse who knew how to read, so that really limited our options in the horse department.

The show itself has two acts—a little bit of short-form fun to kick things off and then some more traditional long-form improv inspired by the novel.

Lacey: For me, this is such a cool culmination of many of my passions—comedy, intellect, and community engagement. I've been a fellow with D Academy for the last year and have been planning Big D Reads, our year-long community service project, with all the other fellows. Getting to engage with Big D Reads as an improviser is my ideal!

What about this book lends itself to a fun, comedy show?

Maggie: Basically it's about a young woman who thinks she can fight injustice. Then, men try to put her down and say she can't do it. So, like, that's hilarious because that never happens in real life.

There's also a guy named Rooster, a guy with a last named pronounced beef and a gang led by a man named Pepper. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was a book about a really tasty dinner.

This stuff writes itself.

Lacey: What has been fun thus far was the BS the cast was making up during rehersal when we hadn't yet all read the book. Now that we've all read the book, what will make this a fun comedy show is a set of really strong characters to draw inspiration from and a narrative arch that contains some of the key emotions that make improv fun—determination, passion, revenge, anger, joy, lust, etc.

What are your favorite scenes in the book and why?

Maggie: I like every time Mattie says something strong-willed and sassy. I like to imagine her as a character on Real Housewives of The Wild West, and when she talks about something she said that was brassy or super confident, I imagine the "cut-to" of her sipping on a glass of Pinot Grigio. Then I realize I've gotten really distracted and have to re-read the last three paragraphs.

Lacey: I like all the scenes where Mattie is negotiating with someone much older than her—and typically male—to get what she wants. She is not easily deterred and absolutely outsmarts everyone around her despite being a 14-year-old female in the late 1800s.

Do you prefer the John Wayne or Jeff Bridges version of the movie adaptation? 

Maggie: I've only seen the John Wayne adaptation in preparation for this Friday's show. I'M HORRIBLY UNDER PREPARED.

Lacey: I know this probably makes me uncool, but I hate any and all old movies—including movies with John Wayne.

What other books would you like to base a comedy show around in the future?

Maggie: I would LOVE to go through and do books off the banned books list. So many great pieces of literature have been banned for one reason or another, it seems only natural that an improv troupe read controversial books and then make fun of them.

I'd also love to do some non-fiction books—like Freakonomics.

Lacey: Ohhhh, I like Maggie's suggestion. I'm in. Also, I'd like to take the Old Testament for a spin. That would be a treat.

Why should we read True Grit?

Maggie: Because everyone else is doing it.

No, seriously. The entire city of Dallas is reading it right now as part of Big D Reads. Why haven't you read it already? You should read it before Friday.

Lacey: Because reading makes you a smarter, sexier, and happier human—who doesn't want to be those things?!

Due to construction on DCH's new home (3025 Main Street), the "Dallas Comedy House Takes on True Grit" show will be performed at Club RBC (2617 Commerce Street) on Friday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

(Image: D Home/D Magazine)