HI, I’M MICHAEL.
Our time together is limited and the older we get, the faster it goes. This means the projects I commit to speak to the heart. If through the use of talents and skills I can help others understand, learn, and grow, then I’d feel rather content when my time is up.
I want to make a difference in the world sharing my passions with others.
Like telling a couple’s story as their wedding officiant. Each couple shares their soul and bestows their unique love story into my gentle care. I’m am merely the vessel responsible for holding and communicating the most meaningful message to the world’s most important people: family.
And the message is love.
Loving yourself and those who can’t, and the courage it takes to ask for help also resonates. Which is why it means the world to me to be the voice behind the Iowa Department of Public Health’s campaign to help those struggling with alcohol, drugs, gambling, mental health or suicidal thoughts.
After five years of touring and talkbacks with audiences young and old alike, I’m certain my work with The (Alzheimer’s) Remember Project has benefited members of the sleepy communities we’ve visited. The same goes for the 60,000 elementary school students who participated in the two environmental comedy shows I toured across America.
And while the work of teaching de-escalation tactics to hundreds of law enforcement officers is trying, draining, and bone shattering (one time), it’s profoundly beneficial to the officers who believe in serving the community and the members of that community who may one day find themselves in a mental health crisises.
The things we do matter. I want to keep doing things that matter.
The work I create as a writer/performer strives to be thought-provoking and engaging. (Art, right.) There are recurring themes surrounding relationships, cultures, and societal issues smacked with bright pops of comedic energy and overtones. I’m dedicated to producing new work that creates a dialogue delving into the underlying nature of the human experience with a focus on the balance between humor and sincerity. Because no one else can do it like me.
I entered the solo theatre world in 2012 with Thumbs Up, a coming of age story about a father, son, and bonsai tree. The show premiered in Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Fringe Festival where the DC Theatre Scene said, “…the improv-trained Venske is at his best, unafraid to bust a move or pull out a silly dialect. His intensity is impressive, and each short scene ends on a poignant or fun note.”
My most recent work, Home, is based on the three years I taught English to primary and middle school students in Zibo, Shandong, China. The show examines the juxtaposition of what home looks like, feels like, and means from Minnesota to China and back again. It premiered in the summer of 2018 at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Pieces of my experience living abroad are also published in a coffee table book, A Different Perspective: Expat Life, which explores the unique viewpoints expats have and how their adventures shape their perceptions of home.
I was trained at, and am a former company member of, America’s oldest satirical comedy theater, Brave New Workshop.
I make my home in Saint Paul with a handful of plants. In my spare time I can be found listening to my grandparent’s vintage record collection and sipping scotch crafting the next story.
- Best Actor; The Murder Mystery Co.; Minneapolis, MN; 2018
- The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2018; Liz Rae Weddings; Minneapolis, MN; 2017
- Overall Best Performance, Most Creative, & Best Actor; Something Something Juliet; ZBCT, Zibo, China; 2012
- Hot Mic; North Suburban Beat; Host; CTV, Roseville, MN; 2011
- Best Dark Comedy; Someone, Something; New York International Independent Film & Video Festival; NYC; 2010
- Voted Audience’s Favorite Show; The Chinchillas in Master Works series; Actor; Minneapolis, MN; 2009
- Grand Champion & Purple Ribbon Winner; Public Speaking; Minnesota State Fair; 2001