Once famous for drinking mustard, Mark Kikel is changing it up
Look out, Estacada: The mustard man has arrived.
After years on the road, standup comedian Mark 'the mustard man' Kikel has decided to make Estacada his home.
Born in Albany, Kikel eventually made his way out to the eastside of Portland, where he graduated from Gresham High School in 1980. Growing up, Kikel always saw himself as the class clown, but he spent his time focusing on what appeared to be a promising baseball career.
At the age of 19, he tried out for a few professional baseball teams, but the tryout was ultimately unsuccessful, leaving Kikel unsure of what was next.
In the meantime, Kikel enrolled in Mt. Hood Community College, where he came across an MTV 'Dan Akroyd act-a-like' competition.
'Dan had the 'Dr. Detroit' movie coming out, so to help promote it, MTV held this competition,' Kikel said, 'and this was back when MTV still played music videos.'
Kikel went on to win the Portland-area competition, which earned him a trip to New York where he competed against 20 other contestants.
'I got to be on MTV and 'Entertainment Tonight,' but I also got to hang out with Akroyd a little bit,' he said.
After failing to win the competition, he returned back to community college where he ultimately majored in theater arts.
Sometime during his community college days, Kikel was approached by a local bar owner with the opportunity to host a standup comedy night that the owner was trying to get started.
'I had never done standup before, but all of a sudden I was being asked to host, book and do standup without any studying or preparing,' he said.
After one year of that, Kikel decided to enroll in the American Academy of Drama in Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, but homesickness eventually lured him back to Oregon.
From 1986-89, Kikel developed a solid act and became one of the original comedians in Portland. But when he got married and had a child, comedy was put on the back burner.
'From 1990-2001 I was a senior project manager for an environmental consulting firm that dealt with stuff like hazardous materials in mills,' he said, 'but I was still getting calls from booking agents, so some days I would work a full day and then drive to Wenatchee for a show that night.'
It was in 1994, however, when Mark got his first break and earned his nickname.
As part of the nationally syndicated radio show 'The Mark and Brian Show,' Kikel agreed to drink 80 ounces of mustard, hence earning him the nickname 'the mustard man.' Over the next few years, Kikel would become a regular caller on the popular show and began to develop a name for himself.
After leaving corporate America in 2001, Kikel decided to hit the road and travel across the Western United States with his comedy act.
Unable to leave behind the mustard, Kikel had two appearances on national television in 2005, when he appeared on both Jay Leno and Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge to show off his talent of drinking mustard.
'There were a lot of 'almosts' for me, but I never got the big break,' he said.
The closest Kikel ever got to a big break was in the Sierra Mist: Next Great Comic competition in which contestants called in for three minutes before listeners would vote on their favorite comic. Once again, Kikel won the Northwest region and traveled back to New York, this time with his oldest daughter.
While there, they decided to see a taping of 'Saturday Night Live.' After the taping Kikel was approached by comedian Keenan Thompson, who recognized him from his days as the mustard man.
Since New York, Kikel has returned home and performed at Harvey's in Portland, where he is a regular, and in casinos across the Northwest.
'Portland isn't a major league town, but the level and comedy and size of the crowds make this place cool,' he said.
One thing that has changed for Kikel is his image. In the beginning, Kikel used the long hair, tie-dye, hippie act as his persona on stage, but he jokes that people don't even recognize him now with khakis and a collared shirt on.
'I've been doing this for over 27 years and this is a metamorphosis time,' he said, 'I have to mix it up and stay fresh.'
As for how he ended up in Estacada, Kikel recalls his fond memories as a child.
'One of the kids I grew up with lived in Estacada, and I remember coming out here and fishing all the time,' he said. 'And now that I've been here almost a year, I love how safe and quiet it is, and how nice the people are.'
Kikel has two daughters, Kelsie, 22, and MacKenzie, 13, and lives with his girlfriend Angie. For information on scheduling Kikel, visit Mustard Man Productions on Facebook.