Photography by Jessica Turner.

K.C. Mack is on the fast track to stardom. One of six teacher-comedians on the Bored Teachers Comedy Tour, he’s bringing slightly irreverent side-splitting humor to stressed-out educators in live audiences and online. The special education instructor at Lake Highlands Junior High says no matter how famous he becomes, he’ll never leave the classroom. After all, that’s where he finds his best material. 

Like any worthwhile comedian, Mack’s jokes reflect real issues including a shortage of teachers (“we’re losing a lot of teachers, it’s true, but the ones we want to leave won’t leave”), a lack of nurturing from the “powers that be” (“Analogy time. When you plant seeds in gravel and don’t water them enough, all you grow is weeds, and not the good kind.”) and holding students accountable for misbehavior (“I bribed a chubby kid with a Snickers to tell me everything he knew”). As he puts it, “I keep them laughing so we aren’t crying.”

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He spoke with the Advocate during Teacher Appreciation Week about his performances in and out of the classroom.

Do you feel appreciated? 

(Lengthy sigh.) Yes? Yes, I do. 

How did you wind up being a middle school teacher?

I started in Lake Highlands back in 2018, working in the Richardson ISD XPlore after-school program. I’d been touring, doing stand-up comedy part time, and a good friend in RISD introduced me. I liked teaching, so I became a GED and English as a Second Language instructor there in Lake Highlands while I also pursued my comedy career. One of the things I’d do with the kids was make videos, so we always liked doing that. But my tour was cut short because of the pandemic. By the time in-person school resumed this past school year, I was teaching special education at Lake Highlands Junior High. And I’ve signed a contract to continue next year. 

What were you like as a student? 

Let’s just say, karma is real. Yeah, I was a bad child. When I got to college — finished up at Abilene Christian University after a couple of years in community college — I was always the go-to guy for things like hosting, speaking, emceeing events. It was actually a teacher who said I should do stand up. I was like, really? I know I am regular-person funny, but not professional funny. But she encouraged me, helped me build my first website and really was responsible for getting me in that mindset of going after the stand-up career. 

What comedians inspired you when you were growing up?

I love Jamie Foxx, Bernie Mac and Martin Lawrence. And Richard Pryor and other greats. The teacher-comedian Eddie B, of course. And then Seinfeld and anyone who did observational comedy. 

Who is your target audience?

Teachers and their regular-person friends. Because what happens is teachers force their husbands to come to the show, but they’ll end up coming up to me like, “oh my gosh, I’m not a teacher. But man. Yeah. I love the show.” The material is very relatable to any parent I think.

You have a catchphrase that you say in most of the videos, right?

Yes, so, here’s the thing, I use a lot of satire and I say “I hate it here.” I sometimes have to explain myself. I don’t mean I hate it at the school or in this profession. It’s a turn of phrase that refers to this headspace I’m in, the reflexive response to a momentary frustration. I am in the drive thru and get the wrong order, so I hate it here. My fries are too salty — hate it here. It’s a reaction to this speck of time. And it’s a joke. 

Comics call out real problems and issues — what are the biggest ones you are seeing?

Comedy is tragedy. Things like the teacher and sub shortage, kids fighting, the impact of gas prices on the income of a teacher who has to drive every day — all things we laugh about in order to keep from crying. It’s funny because it’s true, you know? You’re talking about the elephant in the room. 

What’s your process? 

It’s different for the tour than for the videos, but the material comes to me in different ways, but being in the school every day, there is always something, a story to tell or the roots of one. The content comes at you every day. I embellish for comedic effect. But it stems from real incidents that happened. I never liked to force it. So if I don’t drop a video one week, that’s why. They are so much funnier when they come to me organically. I love these videos because they write themselves.

How did the pandemic change your trajectory?

Yeah the cancellation of my personal tour was a hit. But that sent me back to teaching, and the classroom is where I find my best material. I was planning back then to leave teaching and go full-time comedy, but now I know I will never leave teaching. That’s the gold lesson I learned from COVID was not to ever take teaching for granted. Leaving teaching is something no matter how successful this thing gets, I am not leaving the kids. I’m in it for the long run. 

You joke about the kids, but it’s obvious you really love them.

It’s funny because even though the catchphrase is “I hate it here,” sometimes at the end of the videos I want to say I love it here. I love these kids so much. They’re like my little brothers, my adopted sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, like family.  

Can you tell us a little more about the comedy tour and what else is coming?

Bored Teachers is a platform for content creators who are also educators. It’s informative and insightful with a humor component, funny memes and videos. I became a creator with them in 2018. There were talks back then about a tour with the top influencers on the platform. So once things started getting back to normal and things were opening back up, they assembled the team — like The Avengers, you know, the best our nation has to offer in teacher comedy. We started the tour over March spring break. And then we went up to New York City and just had a show at the Palladium in Times Square. It was very exciting. Very fun. And we will be here in Dallas June 17. And then we are going international. We will go to Australia and Canada. I love this because it gives me an opportunity to take it from the classroom to the stage. 

Also in the works, I am writing and producing a movie. We’re in preproduction and we’ve signed Brandon T. Jackson to star in it. He’s in Tropic Thunder and Big Momma’s House. 

See teasers for K.C. Mack’s movie here. The Bored Teacher Comedy Tour hits Dallas June 17 at the the AT&T Performing Arts Center.