After being upstaged in October by the St. Louis Cardinals, "folk humorist" Mary Mack is making a second attempt at performing in our fair city. A former music teacher who now splits her time between LA and Minneapolis, Mack is a veteran comedian who has appeared on the Bob & Tom Show, the Vancouver Comedy Fest, HBO's Andy Kaufman Awards and the Just For Laughs Festival. She also made a very notable appearance on Marc Maron's popular WTF podcast.
Mack is married to comedian Tim Harmston who has appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman. Harmston, along with comedians Jeremy Essig and Andi Smith, will join Mack at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Too Hip (for a Comedy Club) Hilarious ShowcaseSpectacular at Foam, 3359 South Jefferson Avenue.
Kelsey McClure: Your last date in St. Louis fell on the same night as Game 1 of the 2013 World Series. Was its cancellation a direct result of baseball?
Mary Mack: Yes, definitely! If the Twins or Brewers made it to the World Series -- please just let me have this dream -- I would never go to a comedy show that happened simultaneously.
Have you had similar experiences in other cities?
Once when I was working the club in Indianapolis, the Colts were in the Super Bowl. I was very thankful they canceled the Sunday show! No one would have come, plus the crowds were pre-drinking heavily all week, and the crowd-patrol work was exhausting. The comics were worn out by Sunday.
Like in many cities, comedy is an underdog contender in St. Louis' entertainment industry. What do you think it takes to get folks out to shows?
Man, that's a good question. I think most of the people who come to see me just feel bad for me in some way. So I guess that's my niche. They have empathy and sympathy for my generally confused state of being. Other comics probably rely on success and marketing.
Is there a story behind adopting Mary Mack as your stage name?
Yep. I was playing classical music and teaching in Nashville -- even though I'm from Minnesota/Wisconsin area -- when I started, and I didn't think I'd get classical gigs if they knew I was doing comedy. Mary Mack was the name of a song I had been singing with the kids in school the week I started doing open mics. In the end, it turns out the classical-symphony musicians were the most supportive and enjoyed the comedy shows more than anyone, but I kept Mary Mack because it's easier to remember than my real name! [Mikelle Louise "Mickey" Budge --Ed.]
Labels in comedy are not as clearly defined as they are in music. Is "folk humorist" a label you embrace?
Yes, definitely. I do a little bit of everything, and it's all rooted in the backwoods way I grew up, with outhouses, wood tick and moose being some of life's main obstacles. All my viewpoints and comedy stem organically from those life experiences.
Continue to page two for more of our interview.
As a comedian who plays an instrument as part of your act, what do you think of the reputation of comics who play music?
You know, I don't know anymore. There's so many types of music acts that it's unfortunate some people group them all together and say yay or nay. Just like prop acts, I don't care what somebody is using, as long as they're making me laugh or think.
Do you have an opinion on whether or not you should be described as a "comedian" or "comedienne"?
No opinion. I think males and females should all be "comedians" because it's easier to spell.
Do you have a preference of performing in alternative rooms as opposed to traditional comedy clubs?
No. It's all the same to me. I do whatever I want to, usually, and I don't care about the room. If it's funny, it's funny. I'd love to do more things with my silly instrument ideas, but the fees to fly with it all are just more than I'm willing to pay. If everyone would just be willing to come to my garage for all the shows, then I could do whatever I want!
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