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Making a career of making people laugh

Mary Mack

What started as a dare when she was teaching music and band in Nashville turned into a new career path for comedian Mary Mack, who will perform a Valentine Comedy Show at the Old Gem Theater (116 S. Knowles Ave.) in New Richmond at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.

"This was after my polka band broke up and I told my roommate I missed performing. It was a way to perform where you didn't need an entire band or even an instrument," Mack said.

Mack is a favorite on radio shows and podcasts around the country including The Bob and Tom Show, Marc Maron's WTF Podcast, KFAN'S Power Trip and The KQ Morning Show. She's appeared in Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival, HBO's Andy Kaufman Awards, and recently, made her debut on The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Mack's television credits include Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, TBS' Conan, and NBC's Last Comic Standing and Last Call with Carson Daly.

"I first heard of the Old Gem Theater when Scott Novotny, a comic friend who lives near New Richmond, brought me to open for him there about 13 years ago. I loved the DIY-ness of the venue, and since I grew up near Webster, not far north of New Richmond, I could relate to the audience really well," Mack said. "I think the audience appreciated I had a similar sense of humor as they did. I did my Christmas show there, for I think 10 years."

Tickets for the show are $17.50 advance and $20 at the door. Reserve your tickets by calling 1-800-866-8035 or by visiting OldGemTheater.com.

Not only is Mack a comedian, but she is also a voice actress, and played the leading character, Dylan, in season one of Fox's cartoon "Golan the Insatiable." This year, she plays a lead character in the Hulu cartoon "Solar Opposites" — which is scheduled to premiere later this year — by the creators of Rick and Morty.

"Voice acting wasn't something I really ever set out to do. I performed at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival back in 2008 or 2009. A lot of entertainment industry bookers and producers used to go to this festival and actually watch the performers," Mack said. "Strangely, about five years after I did the festival, I got an email from a producer who said he saw my show there and thought if he ever did a cartoon, he should have me audition. Well, luckily, he made a cartoon and remembered me. That was my first cartoon."

Those attending her Valentine Comedy Show can expect to hear some new stories and jokes, as well as some old favorites.

"If I don't do some of the old favorites, people complain! I try to mix in the new though. It's a PG-13 show. I talk quite a bit about my family and about dumb things I've done in the past or currently. Eh-hem," Mack said. "I don't really talk about politics ... It's always safe to make jokes about yourself though, so I do a lot of that. I had a teacher who said daily, 'If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at.'"

According to Mack, you don't need a date to attend her Valentine Comedy Show. The show was only named that because the show date happens to coincide with Valentine's weekend.

"If you do decide to bring a date, I'd prefer you brought at least five dates, because when we fill up the Old Gem, the laughter is infectious! It feels so good to laugh," Mack said.

Mack is excited to perform at the Old Gem because it bring her back to Wisconsin, which is one of her favorite places to perform.

"I'm excited to be in a small hometown theater which has a presence in the community with their kids' shows and arts outreach. Comedy and theater is a type of therapy, and a good venting outlet for all ages whether it's watching or participating," Mack said. "My best show memory from the Old Gem is when I did a crock pot trivia at the end of my holiday show and brought crowd members up on stage. People really get heated up (pun intended) about crock pot trivia in Wisconsin!"

When not touring, Mary spends "way too much time and money" working on her vintage camper in the woods of northern Wisconsin.

To see where Mack will be next or to browse her comedy albums, visit marymackcomedy.com.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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