M.K. Paulsen: A Comedy Lighthouse

May 24, 2017

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin


One of my highlights of 2017 (so far) was getting to catch the Season 3 taping of Stand Up Empire, where I saw M.K. Paulsen up close and personal for the first time. It was a unique treat, both because I don’t get downtown as often as I’d like, but also since Paulsen splits his time between Austin and Los Angeles, making sightings rare and always special. With that in mind, Valerie Lopez jumped at the chance to sit down with him during the 2017 Moontower Comedy Festival to learn more about what makes him tick.

Unique is also a great way to look at Paulsen’s pre-comedy life, with the honor of being the only person we’ve interviewed to work on the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and I believe also the only one to be in the same room as President Obama and the entire Supreme Court. Born a small town Texas kid, to have such a focused career in the political sphere in DC, and then move into comedy in Austin, was a daring jump that Paulsen took on with his innate curiosity and drive.


Well... technically he came back to Texas to continue his growth in politics in graduate school, even giving the commencement speech for his graduating class, but comedy had its hooks in him and he knew it was time to make the pivot. A self described wanderer, Paulsen has let his natural desire to keep moving and learning lead him into an evolving comedic style, drawing on word play, charisma, and character, to build an energetic and engaging presence on stage.

When he’s not tending his newborn burrito with another native Austinite-to-Los-Angelino Ella Gale, Paulsen runs a show in LA called Compliments to the Chef, and you can catch the next one at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe on May 31st at 8PM. Follow him on Twitter and find more upcoming dates and info at his website.

M.K. Paulsen