Do you know the Mustard Man? If you count yourself a member of the Portland comedy community, you probably do. For the last 30 years, Mark Kikel has hosted open mics and booked shows for Portland comedians, even at times when the going was slow and comics couldn’t find places to practice and perform their craft.
“It sounds like I’m waxing philosophical,” says Portland comic Kristine Levine, “saying that those were the glory days, but they really were. Musty’s open mics were really special. We needed them, we needed him. And we love him for it.”
Why “Musty”? In a 1994 contest on nationally syndicated radio program The Mark & Brian Show the anchors challenged their listeners: “What is the most outrageous thing you would do to get on our show?” While the hosts were visiting Portland, Kikel joined them in the studio at AM Northwest and drank a 35-ounce bottle of mustard on air. That same night, at Harvey’s Comedy Club, he drank 16 more ounces. “Boy, you sure are a mustard man,” Brian said. The name stuck. (The emergency room doctor also told him never to consume that much mustard again.)
Kikel’s 15 minutes of fame continued when he was on The Tonight Show in 2005—but just to drink another bottle of mustard, not to perform standup. He is now known as the only Portland comic to have been on The Tonight Show, albeit with an asterisk by his name.
And tonight, June 5, he’s getting roasted.
This, Levine says, is testament to the comedy community’s love for Kikel. “All of the comedians are going to be there,” she says. “There are several generations of comedians that are being represented as he’s been in the business in Portland for 30 years. There’s old-school comedians like Ron Osborne and Art Krug who started out with him and then a little bit later came Lonnie Bruhn and then me and Whitney Streed, who’s now our comedy mom.” Newer arrivals Christian Ricketts and Amanda Arnold round out the set.
There should be plenty of material from Kikel’s comedy career to riff on. There was the time his then-girlfriend gave another comedian a blow job in the parking lot while Kikel was performing, or the time he almost got Levine fired (she ended up quitting the position instead). There was also point in Kikel and Levine’s relationship when they openly hated each other. Kikel once threatened Levine with a lawsuit for slander after she alleged, on her radio show, that he was a drug dealer. Levine was able to ignore the lawsuit because she could prove her accusation: Kikel had indeed sold her marijuana.
They've since smoothed things over. “There’s only one person I would trust to host this roast,” says Kikel, “and that’s Kristine.”
GO: The Mustard Man Roost is at the Copper Rooster, 5827 E Burnside, 234-4190. 9 pm Thursday, June 5. Free.