Chicagoan Sean Monahan braves big balls and muddy water to win on Wipe Out

July 29, 2011

My buddy Sean Monahan has hit the primetime!! Sean is an improviser and comedian, now residing in Los Angeles. Chances are, if you attended an improv show at iO or Second City, you ran across Sean's work. He also is a member of the improv group "Mission Improvable." Sean moved with his wife to Los Angeles a few years back and we've kept in touch over email and Friendster.

Well, imagine my surprise when I got an email from his last week. He was telling his friends that he was going to be on ABC's Wipe Out for the "Bosses & Employees episode." Monahan is one of the owners of M.i.'s Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA.  His teammate was Patrick McIntyre, who Monahan called "one of the guys who helps make that place run as smoothly as it does."

So I sent him a few questions. At the time, I had no idea that Sean actually WON!!!! A guy I know won on Wipe Out. I feel like I won.

Kaufmann: So...did you win?
Monahan: I did indeed. By the seat of my pants, and thanks to a fantastic teammate.

Kaufmann: Did it hurt?
Monahan: The falls actually didn't hurt that much. I definitely ached afterwards, as I would with any strenuous activity, but during the taping the biggest physical challenge was all the constant climbing out of the water wearing waterlogged clothes after awkward swimming just to get to the 10-15 foot ladder.

Kaufmann: How did you get on the show? What was the audition like?
Monahan: Back when I first saw the commercials for the show's premiere season, I applied via their website. I got a mass email requesting that we update our profiles on the site about two years ago, and since I had just moved I did just that. Several months later I got a phone call asking if I had a co-worker or employee that I could come in and audition with, so I grabbed Patrick and in we went.

The audition was pretty simple/fun. They really just interviewed us on camera to make sure that we were high-energy enough for the show, and being that we're both comedy guys, it wasn't too hard for us to come across as the goofy idiots that we are in real life.

Kaufmann: How many releases did you sign?
Monahan: There's a lot of paperwork. A lot. But the folks who work on the show really are fantastic people and very helpful in navigating it all.

Kaufmann: How far in advance do they get to see the challenge? Is it, welcome to the set, and now go jump on this giant slide?
Monahan: You certainly aren't provided schematics or video to review before you arrive on set. And I'm not convinced that extensive planning would even be helpful.

Kaufmann: Is there a strategy? Or just running and prayers?
Monahan: I think it depends. There's definitely a lot of "ah hell, just go for it", but if you're not thinking strategically all that "going for it" will result in a whole lot of swimming and climbing.

Kaufmann: How gross is that water you fall into?
Monahan: The water is actually pretty great. The mud, however, is a different story altogether. The mud is nasty, and takes forever to clean out of your nooks and crannies.