Artwork by Luther Himes IV
Mac Blake is one of the most talented and celebrated performers to rise out of the Austin comedy scene. He’s performed at the prestigious New Faces of Comedy Showcase at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, Funny or Die’s Oddball Festival, SXSW Comedy, and more. In 2013, he won the Funniest Person in Austin contest. In addition to stand-up, Blake is part of the acclaimed sketch group STAG Comedy, a regular performer at ColdTowne Theater, and co-host of The Mascot Wedding Show podcast. And he’s just released his first comedy album.
Recorded live at Cap City Comedy Club in December 2014, Bird Drugs is his debut full-length album, and the second release by Austin-based independent comedy label SURE THING RECORDS. And it’s hilarious.
I spoke with Mac about comedy influences, his all time favorite standup albums, and a drifter named Patches.
Photo by Lauren Logan
Who inspires you comedically now?
I just did a weekend with Dave Attell at Cap City. Name drop! He’s in the hall of fame of face-melting. Watching him was inspiring in that if I ever want to be half as good I have a lot of work to do and better get to it. Also Tom Scharpling, host of The Best Show, is an inspiration for a lot of reasons.
What about when you were growing up?
Growing up there was an old drifter in our neighborhood. Patches was his name. He would entertain us kids with stories about airplane food and the differences between black and white people, men and women, cats and dogs, you name it. I feel like those stories laid a lot of the groundwork for who I am today. It’s a real shame Patches was shot to death by cops who thought he stole a Diet Coke.
Also. The Simpsons, Hartman/Foley era Saturday Night Live, and my family.
What’s the most recent joke you wrote and how did you come up with it?
Probably something dumb I thought of in the car on the way to a show. I talk through jokes a lot when I’m driving. For some reason being focused on something else, the road, kind of frees up the rest of my brain.
What makes a good comedy album?
I honestly just want a comedy album to be funny. On Joe Mande’s album slash mixtape he mixed his live recording in with hype sounds & skits. It certainly wasn’t a traditional stand-up album, but it was great.
What are your top five all time favorite comedy albums?
Look, I don’t claim to be an expert on comedy albums. Tae Kwon Do? Yes, I am an expert in that. Come at me and I will crack your skull open. But here are some of my favorites.
Feelin’ Kinda Patton by Patton Oswalt. I think his second album, Werewolves in Lollipops is probably better. But Feelin’ Kinda Patton was the album that made me want to do stand-up. I can’t understate its importance to me.
Bigger and Blacker by Chris Rock. This was the first comedy album I ever bought. It hit so huge. Everyone I knew, regardless of what they were into, loved this album. So damn good.
Chewed Up by Louis CK. You could probably switch out a couple Louis albums for this one, but Chewed Up is my favorite. Cinnabon. Hating deer. Great.
The Art of the Slap by Scharpling and Wurster. “Whoa, a non stand-up comedy album? This guy Mac Blake is an edgy motherfucker.” Calm down, guys. The Art of the Slap is a collection of calls from former radio show, now podcast, The Best Show. The host, the aforementioned Tom Scharpling, takes calls from a variety of characters all voiced by Jon Wurster––who is also the drummer for Superchunk and the Mountain Goats. Everything they do is solid gold. The first call is from a computer repair technician named Horse who works for Jock Squad, a bizarro roided-out version of Best Buy’s Geek Squad. I could not love these guys more. There’s an homage to them on my album if you listen to the end.
The Top Part by John Mulaney. The title of this album, like Chewed Up, is a great reveal when you find out the context. Mulaney is just a perfect writer. His story about selecting Tom Jones’s “What’s New Pussycat”, twenty one straight times, on the jukebox of a diner––I think the first time I heard that I laughed so hard I ripped a whole in the space time continuum. Sorry universe!
What’s next for Mac Blake?
For the rest of the month, I’ll be co-hosting All’s Well with Mac & Joe, with the very funny Joe Hafkey. That’s every Tuesday at 8pm, at Cap City Comedy Club, until the Funniest Person in Austin Contest starts.
I’ll also be going on a Sure Thing Records mini-tour with Brendan K. O’Grady and Duncan Carson, the comics who run the record label. Those dates are all on my website. Then some festivals in the summer.
Oh and I’ll be at a certain thing April 22nd to April 25th, but I don’t think I’m supposed to say anything yet so I won’t. You certainly couldn’t find out more information about that thing on this very blog. Again, I wish I could tell you more about super fun mega festival, but I can’t.
Then later this year I’m getting married to my favorite human on the planet, so that’s pretty cool.