Long before Joe Mande became a nationally touring comedian, he was just an ordinary kid attending Central High School in St. Paul. Well, an ordinary kid with a not-so-ordinary case of irritable bowel syndrome.
“You weren’t capable of taking a shit at my school. If anyone saw there were legs at a stall, people would kick the door open, throw things at you,” Mande said. “I had a friend on the swim team who stole a key for me that allowed me to use a secret bathroom in the basement.”
Mande has come a long way from his years of mortifying lavatory experiences. At 30, he’s established a respectable career as one of the sharpest and original standups in the country. Just last year, he signed on as a writer for NBC’s popular series “Parks and Recreation.” Beginning Wednesday, he’ll return to the Twin Cities for a week of shows at Acme Comedy Club — his first local appearances as a professional comic.
“I did the Acme open mic a few times during high school, and this club at the Mall of America called Knuckleheads,” Mande said. “[Knuckleheads] was empty except for a few Japanese tourists and a couple old ladies that wanted to rest their feet. And little 17-year-old me was doing abortion jokes.”
Mande briefly attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but transferred to Emerson College in Boston, where he majored in political science.
“I realized the moment I got to [Madison] that I wanted to go to a tiny school in the big city instead of a giant school in a little town,” he said.
But the idea of running congressional elections wasn’t a career path that sounded all that fulfilling. In 2007, Mande relocated to New York City, where he began pursuing standup full time.
Onstage Mande is relatively mild-mannered and affable. But on Twitter he’s garnered a reputation for being a hysterical agitator of celebrities. He’s drawn the ire of Hollywood firebrand Jeremy Piven; Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana blocked Mande after receiving a series of insults alluding to Vitter’s prostitution scandal. Also an avid sports fan, Mande got in a heated back-and-forth with former NBA player Gilbert Arenas after publishing a biting blog post about Arena’s misogynistic Twitter account.
“An hour later he quit Twitter. And that’s what’s interesting about getting into fights on the Internet, is that there’s never really a winner,” Mande explained in a standup bit. “Except in that exact moment, I clearly won. Because I’m the best. I’m the best at being the worst. I’m the worst.”
When: 8 p.m. Wed.-next Thu.; 8 & 10:30 p.m. next Fri.-Sat.
Where: Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. 1st St., Mpls.
Tickets: 612-338-6393 or www.acmecomedycompany.com.