WKU alumni comedy duo base show on similar experiences

Zirconia Alleyne

Megan Venzin and Emily Althaus learned early in life to find the humor in hardships, but neither imagined that their tough upbringings would fuel their budding comedy careers.

Now, the pair is traveling the country as the Venzin-Althaus Explosion performing their two-woman comedy show “A Night of Well-Adjusted Ladies.”

Venzin, an alumna from Franklin, found refuge in comedy and theatre as she watched her mother battle alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

“When you come from a home where you’re dealing with issues like that, you have to find a way to laugh, or you’re screwed and miserable,” she said.

While attending WKU, she met Althaus, a Frankfort native, who was also heavily involved in the theatre department.

It wasn’t until the two graduated that they realized they had similar childhood stories.

Althaus had started a one-woman show called “Stop Possuming, Mommy,” about the first time she learned her mother was narcoleptic.

She moved to New York to continue her comedic pursuit.

Venzin took a position as a marketing director for a theatre in Cincinnati but wasn’t satisfied.

“I always knew I wanted to move to the city where I could be active in theatre,” she said.

While catching up with Althaus in the city, she learned Althaus had a show about her mother.

Ironically, Venzin kept a Word document about all the things her mother did under the influence.

“She does things like buy a thousand air fresheners from QVC,” Venzin said.

They realized their crazy stories could be a hit.

Their first performance was for a group of friends at the New York Theatre Workshop where Althaus worked.

With a sketchpad as their only prop, the duo acted out their mothers and the crowd loved it.

At the end of their show, they encouraged the audience to share some of their own maternal stories.

With the confidence boost they needed, the ladies took the show to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival where they received more rave reviews.

Now, the Venzin-Althaus Explosion is headed back to their roots at WKU.

“I’m pumped to perform there and show people that we’re actually doing what they taught us,” Venzin said. “These people knew me when I was dealing with the issues I talk about in the show.”

Althaus said she’s sure her mother will be in attendance.

“She’s begged me several times to come,” Althaus said. “She’ll be in the back cheering on her babies.”

David Young, department head of theatre and dance, said it feels great to know that he taught both of them.

“Both were very bright and inventive,” he said. “It certainly seems right up their alley.”

Young said he looks forward to seeing the show in April.

“I would imagine there’s a mixture of some humor and some serious topics to shock people, but those guys are always entertaining,” he said.

Venzin said the show is meant to be empowering and funny.

“We didn’t want to come off as these pitiful people that wanted a venue to complain about our moms,” she said. “I think it’s a relief for a lot of people to see that we come from these dysfunctional situations and can get up and laugh about it. I think they’ll reflect on their lives and laugh, too.”

Showtimes are at 8 p.m. on April 27 at Spencer’s Coffee and 10 p.m. on April 28 at Gordon Wilson Hall’s lab theatre. Both shows are $5 at the door, and some of the proceeds go to scholarships for the Department of Theatre and Dance.