Mary Mack/ Star Tribune photo by Matt Gillmer

Mary Mack was raised in northern Wisconsin, but she is the quintessential Minnesota comic: smart, polite and sneakily bold.

All those qualities were on display Thursday in the first of three nights at Acme Comedy Co., the Minneapolis club that nurtured her talent.

At first glance, Mack can come across like an innocent waif trapped in the spotlight with her prepubescent voice, pixie build and squeaky-clean material. In one joke, she revels in the idea of wiping away tears with tater tots.

But Mack's act, at least at her home base where she feels most comfortable, can be a high-wire act with a daredevil willing to take a fall.

Before her set even began, Mack shoved her three opening acts on set with her and forced them into a very loose improv set in which the foursome poked fun at a spectator's wardrobe and told anecdotes about their mothers. It didn't work, but it was an appropriate reminder that, with Mack, anything goes.

Later, an exchange with a retired metro bus driver inspired a hilarious bit about a recent encounter on a city bus with a drug dealer in which both parties went out of their way to be "Minnesota nice." The routine may not work on the coasts, but here it killed.

If you like your comedy a bit unpredictable, you should check out Mack who performs through Saturday at Acme. And make sure to come early enough to catch featured performer Claudia Cogan, who is making her Twin Cities debut. Her self-deprecating, razor-sharp humor would make her a much welcome regular on the local scene. Of all the smart moves Mack made Thursday, bringing Cogan along may have her smartest.

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