Jimmy Mak and How an Audition Turned into a Lifelong Career

Jimmy in Hot and Bothered, 2022 (credit Jeffrey ‘Buzz’ Crisafulli)

By Lydia Weyrich, account executive at Irvin Public Relations

Jimmy Mak is a metaperformer and the head writer at Columbus performing arts company, Shadowbox Live. Jimmy began his tenure at Shadowbox just after graduating from college and has been with the company for nearly 27 years since. His latest show, Pillow Talk, opens at Shadowbox Live Jan. 4, 2024.

Lydia: How did you get started in the arts?
Jimmy: I was an English major at OSU with a minor in film. However, Shadowbox Live was my first foray into the arts.

Lydia: What led you to Shadowbox Live?
Jimmy: I was always a fan of comedy and writing. I was out of college working at Barnes & Noble and planning on going to graduate school. I saw in the paper there was this little theater company downtown that did original sketch comedy. I thought if I got one of my comedy sketches produced it would look great on an application or resume. I called them and they convinced me to come down and “audition.” I did so with a one-person sketch I wrote called “Hulk: The Musical.” Somehow, they still decided to hire me, and it turned out I enjoyed performing as much as writing.

Lydia: What is something you wish you knew as a performer just starting out?
Jimmy: The difference between asking for a laugh and getting a laugh because you were true to the character. This took me a long time to figure out.

Lydia: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Jimmy: Movies about breakdancing. My favorite being “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” I miss the simpler days when you could save the neighborhood rec center with cardboard and backspins.

Lydia: What or who inspires you as a creator?
Jimmy: Slapstick comedy films from the 30’s, most notably the Marx Brothers. The writing is always so crisp and clever and there are usually like 200 good jokes packed into 90 minutes. (Old Person Alert!) They just don’t make them like that anymore.

Lydia: If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jimmy: Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”

Jimmy in Body Language, 2023 (credit Jeffrey ‘Buzz’ Crisafulli)

Lydia: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Jimmy: The amount and the quality. You can see the symphony play the Star Wars soundtrack or go listen to MojoFlo at a local bar. You can catch great improv from Affirmative Distraction or go see some hilarious stand-up at the Attic. You can see some amazing classical dance about Dracula at BalletMet or come see a modern dance show based on Bonnie and Clyde at Shadowbox. I love this city.

You can see Jimmy’s latest creation, Pillow Talk, at Shadowbox Live in the Brewery District Jan. 4 through April 13. Tickets can be purchased at www.shadowboxlive.org.

This article is part of a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council as part of the Art Makes Columbus campaign. Explore a calendar of events, public art database and artist stories at columbusmakesart.com. To learn more about GCAC grants visit gcac.org.



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