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The Spotlight: Carlie and Doni do a benefit for Santa Monica Playhouse

April 6, 2011 | 12:00 pm


Any good comedy duo is a study in contrasts — and Carlie and Doni, a rising musical comedy act in Los Angeles, is no exception. “She’s the lesbo and I’m the straight girl,” Carlie says.

A few years ago Carlie Mantilla and Doni Carley were rolling their eyes through theater classes at community college. Now they’re playing all over Los Angeles, including a benefit performance this weekend at — and for — the Santa Monica Playhouse, presented by Lily Tomlin, whom Carlie and Doni met in Las Vegas last year (a “horrifying and amazing” experience, Doni says) and her longtime partner Jane Wagner.

Your bio says you two met in a community college theater program and dropped out together. You must have formed some kind of bond.

Carlie: Her last name’s Carley, and my first name’s Carlie. They called roll and we were like, “What the …?” And then we became friends really quickly.

Doni: We were both like, “This is such a joke.” People took it very seriously … the teachers would get really teary-eyed talking about it.

How did you get into comedy?

D: We knew we wanted to act and perform — so we just started writing. I got a bikini wax for the first time — the most horrible experience of my life — and we wrote a song about it, just for fun.

How would you characterize your dynamic?

C: I'm the mellower one. . . . Doni can be more intense.

D: What she's trying to say is that I can be an angry lesbian sometimes.

C: That is exactly what I'm trying to say.

Are you inspired by anyone?

D: We’re inspired by people who start at the bottom and work their way up — that’s what we’re doing. For us, we don’t have a backup plan.

C: Hobo is our backup plan.

Was comedy always the dream?

D: For me, this was something my whole life I always wanted to do. All of my teachers, was always like, “You’re going to be on ‘SNL.’ You’re the female Robin Williams.” My mom was like, “I knew from the time you were 2 that this is what you were going to do.”

C: My mom put me in acting class when I was really little but I think the reason we came together was because we both couldn’t take it seriously.

So what’s next?

C: Fame, fortune. . . .

D: We have a whole television show idea. We’d really like to go on tour with our show and get a really awesome hour show together that’s solid and out of control and crazy.

— Jason Kehe

Carlie and Doni perform Friday at the Santa Monica Playhouse.

Photo: Carlie Mantilla, top, and Doni Carley. Credit: Mel Malcon/Los Angeles Times