As NBC sitcom smash "Parks and Recreation" is amid its final season, writer and St. Paul expat Joe Mande comes home for a sold-out stand-up gig at the Turf Club on Saturday. The Central High School alum joined the "Parks and Rec" team in season five and has also written for Comedy Central's "Kroll Show" and Adult Swim series "Delocated."
Last year the Los Angeles-based comic and Twitter jester (who bought most of his 1 million followers as a joke) released "Bitchface," his first comedy mixtape recorded at Acme Comedy Club. On "Bitchface," the self-anointed "Lacroix boy" parodies hip-hop mixtapes with excessive air horns, DJ drops and mock rap skits wedged between live bits skewering foodies and lampooning slices of L.A. life.
We caught up with Mande before the show to talk T-Wolves, "Parks and Rec" and getting blocked on Twitter by James Woods.
Q: Are you touring right now or is the Turf Club a one-off gig?
A: I was supposed to be on more of a tour this month, but I got busy with a job so this is sort of a one-off.
Q: What's the new project?
A: It's a Netflix thing that hasn't been announced yet. Just a sitcom for Netflix.
Q: Are you able to share any other details?
A: I honestly don't think I can. I know that's super gross and obnoxious, but I think I'll offend people if I do. But it sounds very mysterious, right?
Q: Always keep 'em wanting more.
A: Exactly. That's my motto with my comedy [laughs].
Q: So, when did you last live in the Twin Cities?
A: 2001 when I graduated high school.
Q: Did you do any standup here?
A: Yeah, my high school had an improv comedy team, weirdly. I did some standup in high school off and on at Acme and there was a place in the Mall of America called Knuckleheads at the time. I recorded my album a year and a half ago at Acme.
Q: That's right. Was it important for you to come back here to do it?
A: I just remembered Acme being a great comedy club, so I recorded my set there. There are a few places in our country that all us comics talk about being a great room and that's one of them. Weirdly, also the Turf Club has started to become a place. A lot of my friends have been performing there lately and saying it's awesome -- a cool venue for comedy.
Q: Was there any added pressure writing the final season of "Parks and Rec?"
A: I wouldn't call it pressure. It was really fun to write, because the whole season takes place three years in the future, so that was a novel thing for us. The only thing we were nervous about was getting the last couple episodes right. Hopefully we did.
Q: What do you think the reaction will be to the ending?
A: I haven't seen it yet. I saw a lot of it getting filmed and it's pretty nuts in a good way. I have complete faith that Mike Schur and Amy Poehler did it right. They're both fucking great.
Q: What was it like coming into a show that was already wildly successful? Was there an acclimation process?
A: For sure. I had only written for "Kroll Show" and "Delocated" before that, really. This was a sitcom with narrative and stories and characters people cared about and cherished. It took a little bit to learn how to write a show like that because it was new to me. But I knew a lot of the people who worked there already, so it was a good place to fall into.
Q: When you're writing sketch comedy like the "Kroll Show" is it a bigger playground?
A: Oh yeah, you definitely have more freedom to go crazy. You know I love mixtapes, I was able to get a Migos parody on TV this year -- that's amazing. It's great writing for a show like that. Pretty much anything you can think of, if it's written well enough and people are behind it can get on television.
Q: Were there any "Parks and Rec" characters you particularly enjoyed writing for?
A: I've always thought that's the best cast on TV, so I couldn't pick one person out of the group. But there was a side character named Herman Lerpiss because i think he's the funniest side character in the show. He owns the pawn shop in town. He's so funny.
Q: How big is the writing team and do you have to fight for your ideas sometimes?
A: There's no real fighting. Everyone got along. I don't know if I'm ever going to have a job as good as this "Parks" job again. There's about 12 or 13 people. It's super collaborative, everyone comes up with ideas together. With your episode, you go and write the first draft and everyone punches it up and rewrites it as a group. It's kind of silly on an episode when it says "written by Joe Mande." I had just as much or just as little influence on that script as any other, really. That's just how collaborative it is. Although, I was able to get a "Hitch" joke in my episode. So I can hang my hat on that and my Lebron James joke.
Q: I know you're a big Wolves fan. How did you feel about how the Kevin Love saga played out?
A: In retrospect it looks like we did great. … It sucks that my show is literally at the same time as the Wolves/Cavs game. I should move my show up to, like, 2 p.m. so I can go to the game.
Q: I noticed you have a Twitter tradition of posting pictures of everybody you block.
A: That's my new thing. I just want people to know the garbage I'm blocking [laughs].
Q: Sometimes I can't tell if you love Twitter or secretly hate it.
A: Like anything it's complex. I think I hate it more now [laughs]. If you asked me that a few years ago when i was in the middle of buying a million followers, that's when it peaked for me. All the people I hate on Twitter blocked me now, so I can't read James Woods, Jenny McCarthy or Michelle Malkin -- they've all blocked me so it's lost it's allure a little bit.
Q: What'd you do to James Woods?
A: I don't even know! I would retweet his racist, garbage shit. I'd write he's a racist and a dumbass, and his girlfriend is like 40 years younger than him. I would just bring those facts up occasionally, that you're stupid and racist and a borderline sex criminal [laughs]. I'm sure he didn't appreciate me calling him racist and uninformed.
Q: Maybe looking in the mirror hurts when the mirror's held up by a comedian on Twitter.
A: Especially when that guy has a million followers [laughs] and people don't know that 800,000 are fake.