You may recognize Andrée Vermeulen as a house performer at UCB or as one of the many hilarious characters she played in CollegeHumor videos, but hopefully you now know her best as Dr. Monica Scholls in Steve and Nancy Carell’s hilarious hit series Angie Tribeca. If you haven’t yet seen the new slapstick comedy on TBS, you’re missing out. Vermeulen plays an all-business deputy medical examiner, analyzing forensic evidence for LAPD detective Angie Tribeca (Rashida Jones) and drawing absurd conclusions. We got the scoop on Vermeulen’s big break on Angie Tribeca, her self-loathing macaroni, and her dream role in the musical Hamilton.
How did you get started in comedy?
Well, I’ve always been funny and I’m also a former fat kid, so I think that’s part of it.
Yeah, I was almost 200lbs by the time I was fifteen and I’m only like 5’4”. So I think part of dealing with that was being funny, so that people would like me instead of tease me. I mean I’ve always been funny and I wasn’t fat my whole life, I just started to get a little chubby around age 10 or so.
And then – I actually went to college for dramatic theater performance and didn’t do any comedy. But at the end of my senior year we did a showcase and I finally got to do comedy. I was in a comedic scene and my theater teacher was like oh, you need to go do comedy. At the time I was mad about it, because I’d just spent, you know, over $70,000 on college. So I went to UCB in New York and started taking classes and that’s where everything really solidified for me. My comedy career really took off from there. It was like, oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
When you got the call for Angie Tribeca what did you do right afterward? Was that pretty exciting?
Yeah! I had been in the middle of kind of a self-loathing meal. And I was like for sure I didn’t get it and oh, but I got so close. And that’s what happens most regularly so I had prepared to be sad about it – I had made macaroni and cheese – but then I got the phone call and had to kind of stop and reverse my thinking. I was like Oh! Okay! Well, I think I’m still going to eat this macaroni and cheese – but now it’s like celebratory macaroni and cheese? It was kind of surreal. I’ve never been a series regular and it was my first TV show. I was kind of like, I can’t believe it.
Yeah! So when you learned you were going to be playing deputy medical examiner Dr. Scholls, did you do any interesting background research for the role?
I wish the answer was yes. [Laughs] But it’s not. I would sound so much more professional if the answer was yes. I approached it more like a sketch character. I initially thought I was really wrong for the role even when I went in for the audition because I read her as so straight and kind of like a human robot – kind of socially challenged and cold and monotone. That’s not how I am in real life and I’m not used to playing characters like that. So I approached her as if I was playing her in a sketch on stage. I went in to the audition wearing glasses and put my hair up and I dressed the way I thought she should be dressed. And it’s funny because that’s how we dress her now. Like if she’s in regular clothes she’s always in black and white. I kind of created that look. It’s funny because normally you create a character for a sketch show and do it for a month and then never really do it again unless your team keeps bringing it back. So that was interesting.
Did you receive some fun direction from Steve Carrell when he was on set?
Yeah. Because he knows that I come from an improv background, he would let me play more. Which was nice. If there were lines where we could throw out some alternates – it’s really cool because he’d kind of lob some tennis balls that I could just sort of – you know I was going for a tennis metaphor there, but I don’t play tennis so… [Laughs]
You play basketball though, right?
I do! I have a game tonight, lord help us. We’re not very good. I’m on the Lucille Ballers and it’s game three of the season. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll win or lose, I don’t want to be super negative, but I’m prepared to lose.
Just like the macaroni. This seems to be a ritual of yours.
Yeah, I just really prepare for the worst and then get happily surprised.
On that note, can you describe your most mortifying moment thus far as a performer?
I fortunately haven’t had too many instances where I fell on my face. But there was – it wasn’t mortifying, but if you feel like you bomb, that’s pretty bad. I recently hosted a standup show and it had a pretty high profile bill and I have always done this bit where I do Chris Rock doing a set about Harry Potter.
That sounds hilarious.
It’s very funny. I’ve done it since forever. I think I started doing that in maybe 2009 or 2010 in New York. I started doing it in my one-person show and I went to do that bit, and it just for some reason really did not land. I don’t know if it’s because everyone is more racially sensitive and aware right now which is like, thank god. But I don’t know if it’s just a sensitive time or I didn’t deliver it the same, but it just didn’t hit, and its something that has always killed. And that was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had, ever. Up until that point I’d never bombed on stage. I was like, oh, this is what that feels like. I mean I know its kind of good to have that happen and learn from it, but I’d prefer that never happens again.
Oh yeah. That sounds awful. On the other side of that coin, since you got your big break on the series, do you have any humble brags you’d like to share? Did you buy a new car or go on a trip?
I did go on my first vacation ever. I have never gone on vacation, ever. I have gone on some family trips, but my therapist told me that family trips don’t count. So I’ve never just gone somewhere with nothing to do and no one to please. Just to relax. That’s never ever happened. I think that’s because when you’re trying to get your first thing, you’re afraid to leave town just in case you miss something. Which now looking back, that’s no way to live your life. But long story short, after shooting season two, I went to Bali. So I really went far and saw a really cool part of the world so different from where we live and I’m really glad that I did that.
I mean this isn’t a financial brag – the ticket was actually really affordable. [Laughs] It was less than flying to the east coast during the holidays. But it is a sign of where I am that I actually felt comfortable enough to go on a vacation without being in fear of missing a job. So that was pretty cool.
Do you have a dream role that you would either want to play or create?
I was just recently really wishing I could play one of the male roles in Hamilton. Not one of the female roles. I’d love to play Hamilton or Burr as a woman dressed as a man. I would love to do that, I was daydreaming about that the other day. Even in my sketch comedy days I’d play a lot of men. I really liked that, I was very good at it. They used to do that in Shakespearean times, men used to play women. I just feel like it’s a really cool theatrical thing to do and I really just like the male roles in that musical better than the female roles. I feel like they are just meatier and more fun.
Where can we see you next?
Well, season two of Angie Tribeca comes out on TBS in June. Season one is on Hulu in May. In the meantime, I’m also the voice of Ruffnut on How to Train Your Dragon the TV series on Netflix. We have a bunch of new seasons coming out so people can watch that too!
Photo by Robyn Von Swank.