Courtney McLean: 100 Creatives


Number 52: Courtney McLean

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: Four years this coming November

Courtney McLean is a lady who juggles many projects at once. This is not to say that she is scatterbrained--though she may humbly describe herself this way--but rather that she can multitask adeptly. Over the past year or so she has fronted the naughty-billy band Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls, which have played gigs at Bryant-Lake Bowl and, appropriately, Sex World. Though the group is currently on hiatus, she is looking revive the randy musical goodness in the near future. McLean is also a fixture on the spoken-word circuit, helping to manage the Rockstar Storytellers, a loose group of comedians, actors, storytellers, and other entertainers who come together each month to perform. As an actress, she has developed her skills through training at the Upright Citizens' Brigade in New York City and at Minneapolis's Brave New Institute, and she is a regular on the Minnesota Fringe circuit. You can also find her hosting Scholasticus Intoxicus, a bi-monthly drunken trivia night at the 331 Club. Whew! 

[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:


  1. My amazing, visionary, artful friends.

2.  The sweltering summer heat and humidity (it's like having sex all the time, without those pesky cramps and orgasms... I assume).

  1. The annoying voice in my head that nags the crap out of me to Just. Keep. Going.

    Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. That making people laugh seemed to come easy for me and I enjoyed doing it (and still do). 

  2. When I played the Ghost of Christmas Past in the sixth-grade play, I remember I completely blanked on my lines for a minute. But I stood onstage in silence, not scared, but so in love with the fact that I was onstage and those people out there were not. 


  1. My father, who could do bang-on impressions of the greats: Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman, the Monty Python guys. 

What was your last big project?

My last big project is still currently a big project: Rockstar Storytellers. Since being named one of two managing directors, I've taken most of the helm on curating the monthly show for the past few months, which includes promotions, creative directing, and press relations. 

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

I am currently amassing a new incarnation of Courtney McClean & The Dirty Curls (my dirty comedy country band) and rehearsing with women whose voices uplift my soul. And a cello.  It's weird, a cello in country, but we're actually making it work. And I'm auditioning new band members in September. 

Also, I have a solo show of new stories and songs coming up in late September at the Bryant-Lake Bowl called Courtney McLean is (not as) OBSESSED WITH SEX (as one might think).

And then there's Fringe. I'm very excited to be in Ferrari McSpeedy's latest offering, Once Upon A Time In the Suburbs, a hilarious tale about an all-woman town in the suburbs of Chicago in the late 19th-century who try to protect themselves from encroaching marauders. 

Creative/career high point (so far)?

It actually just happened the other night, I think. I am now a part of the Minneapolis cast of Celebrity Autobiography, a fun, raucous show that's on national tour wherein the performers literally just read portions of big-time celebrity autobiographies. It's my kind of show--little preparation, lots of personality. I got to perform alongside Illeana Douglas, of whom I've been a fan for a while, and Michael Urie and Tim Bagley, plus the creators of the show. It was exciting, a ton of fun, and I think I held my own pretty well, if I do say so myself. (The next one's at the end of August!)

What has been your biggest challenge as a creative type?

Making the time to actually create instead of just focusing on the administrative/promotional side of things, which I am wont to do. Also, I am a wicked multi-tasker, i.e., I cannot stay focused on any one thing for a long time. Which means I have a few projects that sit incomplete. 

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?


Storytelling seems to have taken off, not just here, but all over the place.  And I feel like the definition of comedy is expanding too, especially with improvisational comedy on the rise here in the Twin Cities. I personally try to integrate scenes when I can. For instance, the Rockstars had "walking art scene" Andy Sturdevant on one of our shows this past season. I love living and performing in the overlap.


Name another local creative type that you're currently excited about:

Butch Roy, Jill Bernard, and Nels Lennes:  the people running Huge Theater. Accessible, amazing improvisational theater featuring up to three shows a night, all for a very low price.  And they're all masters of their craft, sharing their gift for everyone. I just adore them and I want to see more people come through their doors. 

If you could choose any movie in the world to have a sequel (and it's  guaranteed to be a good sequel), which movie would you choose and why?

Zorro, The Gay Blade. Because if it's guaranteed to be a good sequel, it'll be better than the first one. (Um... did you know George Hamilton was nominated for a Golden Globe for that one? Yeah, me neither till just now). 


If you could sing a duet or perform a scene with any musician/actor/performer in the world, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

Tori Amos, hands down. She's been a huge inspiration to me throughout the latter half of my life, not just creatively, but spiritually. She's the reason I spent about half my life as a redhead. Man, that sounds dippy, but I would just love to lend my voice for harmonies in any number of her songs. And then we would do mushrooms in a forest.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis

99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice

95. Kara Hendershot

70. Tim Sievert

67. Dessa

66. Heidi Arneson

65. Erin Currie

64. Jayme Halbritter

63. Amy Buchanan

62. Kimberly Jurek

61. Kenna-Camara Cottman

60. Joan Vorderbruggen

59. Amber Preston

58. Jenny Carle

57. Mad King Thomas

56. George Moskal

55. Gregory Euclide