Wednesday, June 20, 2012

KCKCC’s ambassador of laughs Mike Maslak retiring July 1


Kansas City Kansas Community College is losing its Ambassador of Laughs.

One of the College’s most popular and well-known employees, Mike Maslak is retiring July 1 from a 29½-year career in the College Bookstore.

However, the Tonganoxie resident will not be giving up his lifelong career of making people laugh and smile. One of Kansas City’s finest improvisational actors, Maslak will continue to perform at ComedyCity where he’s been a regular for 25 years.

A talented vocalist, he’ll also continue singing with Madrigalia Bar Nonne, Madrigal singers who perform annually at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival; a Christmas singing group, “Carolers of Note;” and his church choir at the Cathedral of St. Peter at 14th and Orville.

At KCKCC, however, Maslak is best known for his uproarious humor in calling Bingo games at Christmas and end of the year staff functions.

“Once I heard the laughter and the applause, I got hooked,” says Maslak, who got the acting bug performing in “Pride and Prejudice” during his junior year at Bishop Ward. “I just like to make people laugh and smile, sometimes too much in the Bookstore much to the chagrin of the rest of the staff. I don’t get applause but some people do laugh.”

A 1973 graduate of Bishop Ward, Maslak began his collegiate career at KCKCC, earning an Associate degree before finishing at Fort Hays State where he performed in summer theater while earning a BA in Speech and Theatre with a minor in English.

His acting career gained a full head of steam when he enrolled in the theater program at the University of Colorado.

“I was a member of the Colorado Caravan,” says Maslak. “The fall semester was spent on written work and the Spring semester we’d go out and tour all over Colorado. We had four one-hour shows we’d perform – one for children, one for teenagers and a couple for adults such as Shakespeare. It was excellent training for being an improvisational actor as I am now.”

Back to KCK in the summer of 1978, Maslak joined the Wyandotte Players whose plays were  performed at KCKCC. He also became a member of Madrigal groups performing at the Renaissance Festival almost from its beginning and performed with various and as sundry community theatres.

At the same time, he was employed at the National Art Supply company in the underground caves at 31st and Mercer, a job he held for three years before literally ‘seeing the light.’ “I had quit the job because I was tired of working in the dark; there was just not much light in those caves,” says Maslak.

His unemployment was short lived.

“I saw an ad for the Bookstore at the college, applied and got hired by Bill Ethridge,” says Maslak, who for the last several years has held the title of Supervisor of Bookstore Operations. “It’s a fancy title for jack of all trades.” His main responsibilities include on-line book orders, shipping and receiving of textbooks and helping out on the floor when needed.

For those in professional acting, Maslak is known as the Dough Boy as in Pillsbury Dough Boy, a nickname tagged on him when he joined ComedyCity in 1989. An improvisational acting troop, ComedyCity is now located at the Westport Flea Market where Maslak performs every Friday and Saturday night (  

He’s also done commercials for TV for the Kansas Missouri Lottery and various radio stations and local grocery stores in St. Louis and Omaha as well as Kansas City.

“It’s been a blast, I’ve had the time of my life, a great experience working at the college and a  29½ years but it’s gone by so fast,” says Maslak, who recently purchased a home in Tonganoxie with the help of his realtor sister, Mary Ann Atwell; her husband, a niece, nephew-in-law and friends.

With more than 50 years of accumulation, one of Maslak’s first undertakings in retirement will be a really big garage sale.

“There are also various nieces and nephews I enjoy entertaining. It really is a wonderful life and I just enjoy making people happy. I’d rather make them laugh rather than any awards. As I’ve always said, ‘A little song, a little dance, a little Seltzer in your pants.’


PHOTO: Well-known for TV commercials and as “Doughboy” in his role as an improvisational actor with ComedyCity, Mike Maslak will end a 29½-year career in the College Bookstore at Kansas City Kansas Community College July 1. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)