Mary Mack
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Mary Mack

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"City Pages-Rambler"

Itinerant storyteller, standup, musician, and actor Mary Mack stumbles into comedy and staves off insanity


Image by Sean Smuda
(For photos and story, go to

by Molly Priesmeyer
August 24, 2005

Mary Mack seems to attract odd coincidences, and eccentric raconteurs, and car trouble, though this last fate is perhaps not uncommon among owners of 1991 Ford Escorts. Mack has in fact owned three '91 Escorts, and is looking for another, or at least another cheap old car; she recently responded to an ad for just such a vehicle. As we're chatting in Minneapolis's Anodyne coffee shop a couple of weeks before her Fringe Festival debut, Mack hears back from the seller. It turns out to be the artistic director of the Red Eye Theater, where Mack will be starring in the festival's Everyone's a Winner.

"How weird is that," she says, her eyes widening as she hangs up her cell phone. "I'm a magnet for weird events like that. I don't know why." Her Midwestern accent is thick, and her wide eyes mirror the "ohs" she forms with her lips.

The traveling comedian, actor, writer, and musician taps her fingernails on the Formica tabletop as she details a story about a recent trip up north to perform her comic storytelling act. After the show, she met a chain-smoking elderly woman, a former fur trapper, in a bar; the woman had a pig's heart sewed onto her own barely functioning ticker. "Not only did she have a pig's heart," Mack explains, pausing for suspense, "but she had a weasel in her trailer. Yeah, and she said, 'One night I woke up and the dang thing was latched onto my elbow.' So now she has to go through rabies shots while dealing with a pig heart. Can you believe that? I learned all that from going out after a comedy show. I learned about a pig heart, about trappers, and about weasels. Gosh, I have to write that into a story." - City Pages, Mpls, MN

"Mpls-St. Paul Magazine--Best of the Twin Cities"

(For photos and story go to

Best of the Twin Cities 2005

Token Female Standup

In the decidedly seventh-grade-boy's-locker-room world of standup comedy, oftentimes all it takes for a girl to achieve novelty-act status is a cute face and a willingness to say something dirty. Local comedian Mary Mack has the rosy cheeks and teeny voice of a true Midwestern innocent, but as a former elementary school band teacher, she refuses to trade on the shock value of a cursed punch line. Instead, she rings laughs (at Acme, Grumpy's, elsewhere, and on the road) out of a squeaky-clean shtick that includes Frances McDormandized vowels, sweet covers of hair metal tunes plinked out on her mandolin, and the worst Darth Vader impression you'll ever witness.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine

"Nashville Scene--A Face in The Crowd"

Mikelle Budge (people call her Mik, as in Jagger, without the “c”) is a living testament to the opportunities an MTSU master’s degree in conducting can offer. She’s, uh, segueing the storytelling she does between sets of her polka band gigs into a stand-up comedy career. “Yeah, I guess that degree’s really helping me a lot, huh?” the 28-year-old says. “That Nashville Symphony, I can’t get them off my back.” That’s why she came to Nashville—to get the degree. But the Minnesota-born Mik apparently wasn’t destined to wear black and look serious all the time. So the funny-talking musician (Fargo didn’t lie) launched a comedy career off the back of the polka band she started with her friend Jennie Donaldson (The Shaggy Green Band), and she’s taken to charming audiences with tales about how she came here to be the house clarinetist for NASCAR. (This one seems to go over well, though Southerners, she says, don’t get jokes about kitty litter in the snow.) “If Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley and Garrison Keillor raised a child together, educating it with mostly Brady Bunch reruns, and feeding it only the best boxed wine and pickled herring,” Mik would be the result, her bio on says. It’s only been about a year since she started doing her comedy act—her stage name is Mary Mack, after the popular children’s song—but she’s already won numerous amateur comedy awards in both Nashville and her more native Twin Cities. It all started because she’d have to stall for time between her band’s songs, “and people liked the stories I told,” she says. “I don’t call it stand-up. I call it storytelling.” As Mik notes, “Nashville’s not the polka capital of the world,” so to see her on stage, the best bet is to catch her next comedy routine 10 p.m. Sept. 25, at Christopher Pizza Co. (or check Bring your own pierogies.

—By Liz Murray Garrigan

. - Nashville Scene


"Either You Wake Up or You Don't" 2007, itunes, cdbaby, 57 min., recorded live at Acme Comedy Co., Mpls, MN



Folk humorist Mary Mack spends half her time convincing her Minnesotan mother it’s okay for her daughter to be a comedian and the other half
touring the country in her sweet, 400 dollar Dodge Neon--affectionately referred to as “Street Heat.” Mack and her mandolin sing-alongs, have been featured on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Radio Show, XM's National Lampoon's Comedy Network, and Minnesota's Polka Spotlight. After winning the 2005 California's Funniest Female Contest, she went on to appear in the Vancouver Comedy Fest (2007) and HBO's Andy Kaufman Awards (2007), and will have her national TV debut this
summer on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham (July 25th) and NBC's Last Comic Standing (Thursdays starting May 22nd). Mack started her career in
Nashville, and now splits her time between Los Angeles and Minneapolis, where she recorded her live album "Either You Wake Up or you Don't" at
her home club Acme Comedy Company. Her endearing stage presence and off-kilter, musical surprises, stemming from her background as former music teacher and polka bandleader, make her popular in up to three non-adjacent counties in Wisconsin. So far, Wisconsin has purchased a total of twelve Mary Mack CD's, which bought enough coffee for Mary to create Clips and more info are available also at!