Whether you realize it or not, chances are Joe Mande has made you laugh. You might recognize his face if you’re familiar with his stand-up (and if you aren’t, you should be) or acting, but the place where he’s really made a splash is behind the scenes as a writer for some of TV’s biggest comedies.
From “Parks and Recreation” and “Modern Family,” to more recently working on “Master of None,” “The Good Place,” and the Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally comedy special “Summer of 69: No Apostrophe” this past spring, Mande has written jokes for some of the funniest people in the entertainment industry today. And while he’s proven himself to be funny in the writer’s room, he’s also had time to work on his own stand-up material, including his latest Netflix special, “Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special,” that was released back in the summer.
“I eat, breathe, shit, and fuck comedy,” Mande says in the intro to his special. While that may be true today, the 34-year-old comedian got his first taste, smell, and feel of comedy in front of a far smaller audience at the old Knuckleheads Comedy Club inside the Mall of America back when he was a student at St. Paul Central High School.
While Mande spends the majority of his time these days out West, Mande hasn’t lost sight of his Minnesota roots. In late 2016, he did a show at the Turf Club where all proceeds went to the St. Paul Central High School Foundation’s Philando Castile Scholarship Fund, as Mande was a former classmate of Castile’s.
In terms of his influence on the local comedy scene and the landscape of comedy in 2018 is concerned, Mande is the perfect example of how you can be opinionated, smart, and socially conscious while still making it big in the “mainstream” of comedy. This has allowed others to follow in his footsteps, both as writers and performers, and is one of the reasons why L.A. and New York have started eying our state for new voices to make people laugh and think across all mediums.
Trailblazers are the people, ideas, businesses, and organizations doing necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in the realms of food, drink, and culture. See the rest of The Growler’s 2017 Trailblazers here.