MONNA: The Cat's Meow

January 30, 2022

Photo Credit

Mark Mayer @Studio_Trash


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


Here at CW, we’re very proud of our Events Cal­en­dar (and cats).

The for­mer is a cre­ation that start­ed as a hob­by for Austin com­e­dy events, and has grown to sup­port Hous­ton and Dallas/​Fort Worth as well. The latter…well, it’s cats. Come on. 

This week’s guest couldn’t be a bet­ter proxy for these pas­sions. MON­NA has been a huge sup­port­er of our expan­sion of com­e­dy events into DFW, and that’s cer­tain­ly the least inter­est­ing thing about her. She also loves cats, to the point that her com­e­dy show, booking,and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny proud­ly bears the name Claws Out Com­e­dy. (Even the cof­fee mug she brought to the inter­view tout­ed her as a Men­tal Health Advo-cat. Have we made the point clear yet?)

Claws Out sup­ports safe spaces for per­form­ers in the DFW and Austin area, among a vari­ety of oth­er ser­vices, and part­ners with the amaz­ing Vul­gar­i­ty for Char­i­ty, advo­cat­ing for avail­abil­i­ty of men­tal health and nor­mal­iz­ing the fact that — to loose­ly quote MON­NA —“a bitch can be bad, but also sad”. But, whence came the feline fanaticism? 

MON­NA shares that it orig­i­nat­ed from hear­ing a com­par­i­son of women to cats; unfor­tu­nate­ly there are many such say­ings, and rarely com­ple­men­tary. So, she took it and per­formed the clas­sic switcheroo, turn­ing it into an empow­er­ing con­cept, woven through threads pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, and count­less more. 

I’ve met and exceeded every goal I’ve ever set, and I'm incredibly proud of it

The proud and fierce advo­ca­cy MON­NA projects today seem a world away from her begin­nings as the fun­ny-but-shy kid in class whose stel­lar sot­to voce zingers would get picked up and used by oth­ers to grab the spot­light. (Oh, how we feel you there, MON­NA.) A Fort Wayne, Indi­ana, trans­plant, she had more sur­pris­es in store when land­ing in Texas than just an unfor­tu­nate mis­con­cep­tion that we are a land of sun­ny skies and win­ter coats are optional.

Pri­or to MONNA’s Texas res­i­den­cy, she had had per­for­mance train­ing lat­er in high school, and some home­town com­e­dy stage expe­ri­ence thanks to a road trip to Indi­anapo­lis. The rapid deci­sion to move to DFW land­ed her in a scene of a much big­ger scope than any­thing she’d expe­ri­enced before. Nights would see her dash­ing from her hos­pi­tal job to any stage time she could find. The dogged pur­suit would result in — a mere one year since the move — debut­ing her first open­ing week­end dates at Hyena’s com­e­dy club. For those not in the busi­ness, that is fast. Like a chee­tah, if you will. 

I’m incred­i­bly spite dri­ven,” MON­NA jokes, after relat­ing an encounter with an old friend who asked if she was still doing com­e­dy”. It’s far from the only thing, as she relates to Valerie Lopez a ver­i­ta­ble hier­ar­chy of goals and achieve­ments she set out to accom­plish: becom­ing an MC, set­ting an income tar­get (and then dou­bling it), con­tin­u­al­ly revis­ing (and adding more). I’ve met and exceed­ed every goal I’ve ever set,” she states, and I’m incred­i­bly proud of it.” 

Enter Claws Out, with an ori­gin sto­ry that man­ages to mesh that spite” and MONNA’s advo­ca­cy in one serendip­i­tous pack­age. When the orig­i­nal show was set be can­celed noe week­end, due to a rift” between the club and MON­NA her­self, her thoughts were sole­ly on the 6 oth­er women who had been sched­uled to per­form. (And again, just a pinch of spite; I’ve done a lot spite pro­duc­tions,” she admits.) So, instead of one can­celed show, MON­NA — on a dime — man­aged to get the show three dates that very weekend. 

Claws Out and MON­NA — fit­ting­ly — evolved in par­al­lel. The show focus became less cat­ty”, piv­ot­ing to men­tal health and safe space advo­ca­cy, and MON­NA record­ed her first album Unsta­ble”. (Giv­en that she was fired from her then-mar­ket­ing job the day after it was record­ed, the name couldn’t be more fit­ting, in addi­tion to its ori­gins around men­tal health.) Claws Out expand­ed from DFW, adding dates in Austin, and the ser­vices pro­vid­ed grew as it became a full pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny. Far from the incep­tion as a female-only show, it was now wel­come to all, as long as they too would be advo-cats” for men­tal health. Boys are allowed!” MON­NA says, laugh­ing, to clear up any confusion. 

I feel very aligned…like I’m doing what I was meant to be doing

(Of course, with more shows, the need to pro­mote them grows, and this is where we — for the last time, today any­way — shout out our Events Cal­en­dar. Check it out!)

It’s been a big jour­ney for me,” MON­NA mus­es, and the evo­lu­tion and trans­for­ma­ton she’s accom­plished since 2013 show that’s no under­state­ment. She’s more in touch with her­self, and has aban­doned the idea of hav­ing a day job” beyond com­e­dy. I feel very aligned…like I’m doing what I was meant to be doing.” What she’s doing is a lot. There’s a Claws Out com­e­dy work­shop on Feb 6th, a show with Salem Moon, and will be putting out albums from four come­di­ans this year, along­side the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and oth­er ser­vices that the com­pa­ny provides. 

So, we might, if we were inclined, say that you’ll have plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to cat-ch” Mon­na, or her work, in the com­ing year. And if we’ve learned any­thing from our talk with her, next year’s goals will be even bigger. 

Fol­low MONNA

Fol­low Claws Out Comedy

MON­NA can be seen and heard:

  • Claws Out Com­e­dy & Drag Show fea­tur­ing Salem Moon — Feb­ru­ary 3, 7:30pm at Arling­ton Improv
  • Pod­casts Host­ed — Claws Out Com­e­dy Podcast
  • Com­e­dy Albums — Unsta­ble” (2021); Unprece­dent­ed” (expect­ed 2022)
  • Host­ed Shows — Claws Out Com­e­dy shows all over Dallas/​Fort Worth
  • Film/​TV — Binge TV’s LMAO
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