M.K. Paulsen: A Comedy Lighthouse

May 24, 2017


Valerie Lopez


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 & Café on May 31st at 8PM. Fol­low him on Twit­ter and find more upcom­ing dates and info at his web­site.

M.K. Paulsen