Photo by Athena Pelton. January 2017.

Hi, I’m Michael Venske.

Collector and teller of stories.

Writer and performer of words.

Tales about growth, wood & hard/holy stuff.

Here’s a little about me:

— successful mistake-making misadventure-er
— three years in China
— married abroad, divorced at home
— American road-trip veteran
— bad uke player
— still marries professionally
— hard-stuff humor / mental health advocate
speaker / storyteller / actor for hire


In 2008 when I appeared at the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater I felt like I “made it!” I was getting paid to play pretend and I was officially a professional actor. (Joe Dowling and I were BFFs!)


This instilled the confidence necessary to self-produce sketch shows, which in turn honed my comedy chops and eventually led to a gig with the Actors Theater of Minnesota where I originated a role in the Twin Cities’ premiere of the long-running Bye Bye Liver.


Professionally things were awesome. Spiritually I needed more.


Thankfully I discovered the joy of performing for young audiences! Multiple gigs with Stages Theater Company and eventually two tours across the United States with America’s oldest touring children’s theatre, the National Theater Children, filled my heart with love and joy.


When I returned from tour I made my first foray into the solo theatre world as a writer/performer in Thumbs Up! which premiered in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival and later in Minneapolis during the Minnesota Fringe that same year. (More reviews here.)


“Venske’s acting anchors the piece solidly….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.”DC Theatre Scene


However, in late summer 2012 I left the Twin Cities to teach English in Zibo, Shandong, China.


Vacationing in the mountains outside Boshan, Shandong, China, during National Week.

Crazy, right?


After three years in China I’m back in Minneapolis teaching, writing, and performing. When I’m not freelancing I’m making noise on a Chinese ukulele, sipping scotch, or crafting the next story.


My next solo show surrounds the many (mis)adventures and discoveries in China.


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While you’re visiting michaelvenske.com please explore my resumes, videos, and voiceovers. Also, feel free to browse my posts for a look into my writing and my life.


  • 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


  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Crisis Intervention Team International