[The Dougherty family of La Grange are behind an improv comedy team in Chicago.]
LA GRANGE – The Dougherty clan – a mom, dad and daughter from La Grange – are making their personal mark on the comedy stage by letting their life experiences inspire an improv show playing regularly at The iO Theater in Chicago.
They are backed by an ensemble of eight improvisers trained at Second City who create scenes sparked by the stories of marriage, children, relationship and conflict that the Doughertys share at the start of the show and intersperse throughout.
The parents, Mary Carroll and George Dougherty, a preschool teacher with an advertising background and a lawyer, respectively, finally gave in to the acting bug after hearing daughter Tessa rave about the experience ever since she began taking performance classes starting at age 9 and discovered the joys of a "little game" called improv.
Today, the senior studying theater at Sarah Lawrence College in New York (alma mater of Academy Award winner Jordan Peele) is home many weekends to share the stage with her parents, earlier this year at Second City for a dozen shows, and now in a gig at The iO Theater, considered the birthplace of long-form improv.
It was Tessa, one of four daughters, who prompted Mary Carroll and George to take classes at Second City and iO and begin performing with various groups. Supporters from La Grange in their audiences helped keep them going.
They hit the mother lode with the creation of "A Family Affair," which Mary Carroll describes as "heartwarming, often hilarious, and absolutely telling of what it’s like to raise a family."
Mary Carroll remembers one opening monologue in which George told the audience how much the family enjoys Sunday nights when everyone gathers to cook.
"And I said, 'I don't like that,'" Mary Carroll recalled. "Honest revelations … occur during the show. Our part doing the monologue is telling a true story and sometimes being brutally honest about it."
George said the comedy is all about relationships and the audience feels the connection.
"Difficult times and good times – relationship issues [are] told from the perspective of three different people – that makes it really fun for the audience," he said. "Everybody's on the edge of the seat to hear what we'll say next [and] wonder if the whole family will explode."
Mary Carroll recalls someone suggesting their tagline should be: "And we're not getting divorced."