Parks and Recreation writer Joe Mande comes to Acme
Headlining comedian Joe Mande has a day job, albeit a cool one. As a staff writer on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, he still manages to perform standup around the country, sometimes featuring for Aziz Ansari, one of the show's stars. Some get into standup as a way to get into TV writing, while others start in a writer's room before being seduced by the freedom of the comedy club stage. "I never really had a plan, to be honest," says Mande. "I started doing standup in college, liked it, and started getting writing jobs through that. I really enjoy writing, and love to do it as much as I can."
He enjoyed both sketch and standup while growing up, so his dual career path isn't surprising. "I was obsessed with Monty Python as a kid and as I got into high school, Mr. Show," he recalls. "And I would watch whatever was on Comedy Central. I watched so many of those half-hour standup shows."
Among his friends he always felt he was funny, but getting recognized for his humor was a little difficult. "There's definitely a separation between who is loud and who is funny," he says. "I always had a feeling I was funnier than lot of my friends, but most of the people I grew up with were funny in person, but louder."
Overcoming loud peers isn't one of the challenges of working on Parks and Recreation. Hollywood is full of tough writer's rooms, where the competition is fierce and burnout is common. "It's super cutthroat," he laughs. "Everyone hates each other. No, I'm kidding. Everyone gets along very well. It's a well-oiled machine there. Everyone knows what to do to make it successful, and there's no rancor. It's much more of a family. I know of rooms [that are stressful], but fortunately I've never worked in one."
At one time Mande fancied having a show of his own. "I drive people crazy," he says of his lack of a clear career goal. "I still don't have a plan. I want to continue to be able to do standup and keep writing. I wanted to host a show, when it was novel, like Talk Soup. But now I know fewer people who aren't hosting a clip show."
While he gets to make up situations for almost a dozen characters on Parks and Recreation, Mande's standup is drawn mostly from his own life with little embellishment. "I have friends who like to say they want to hang out with me because I'm a magnet for uncomfortable situations," he says. A good example is a recent mishap with some chili pepper oil that wound up in an uncomfortable place. "Things just happen to me and I relate them as closely as I can. I don't have to fabricate stuff at all."
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 North First St., Minneapolis; 612.338.6393
8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
For more info, visit acmecomedycompany.com
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