Tom Mabe Talks Comedy Career, Family & Calling Jeffersontown Home
Photographer: Terrance Mason
Tom Mabe may not be a native-born Jeffersontown citizen but he’s been here more than long enough to call it his rightful home. Originally from Bullitt County, Mabe moved here 25 years ago, bringing along with him a particular sense of comedy and hard work that has led him on a very fascinating life journey and made Jeffersontown a better place for it.
Mabe is mostly known for humor but it didn’t start out that way for him. Music was his first calling.
“I come from a family full of musicians and songwriters,” Mabe says. “Which is what I was doing up until the late 90s.”
Out of the blue, Mabe received a call from Virgin Records Nashville, though not for his music, which is what he initially hoped for.
“They wanted me to come meet with Scott Hendricks, who is Nashville royalty, behind every other major country star,” Mabe says. “I thought he must have heard one of my songs or something but it turns out someone sent him a cassette tape of me messing with telemarketers.”
Mabe still finds it hard to believe sometimes.
“I got a six-album deal on Virgin Records from a recording I made with a $37 answering machine messing with telemarketers,” he says.
From there, as they say, the sky was the limit, and Mabe’s star continued to rise.
“I went into TV,” he says. “I had a show on CMT called “Mabe In America.” I did a movie with Lions Gate called “Natural Born Pranksters.” Now I create viral videos for myself and clients like DreamWorks, Subaru, Walmart, Boost Mobile, to name a few. I have over a billion views and four million followers on social media. One of my biggest accomplishments is when I had the number one video in the world and beat out Disney’s “Frozen” on Adweek’s top 10 viral videos.”
For those wondering what might have prompted such a momentous feat, Mabe happily elaborates the scenario.
“My best friend and writing partner, Jim Clark, took a guy who was passed out from drinking too much and placed him in a fake hospital room and when he woke we were dressed like doctors and we told him he had been in a coma for 10 years,” he says.
Beyond the entertainment aspect Mabe, not one to rest on his laurels, found himself wearing other hats of show business, such as his trying his hand at being a talent agent.
“About 12 years ago I started leveraging my fanbase and contacts to develop other acts,” he says. “I discovered a young girl by the name of Kelsea Ballerini and followed her through her journey trying to navigate the Nashville scene. She now has a handful of number one hits and is the next Taylor Swift.”
Of course, Mabe still loves a good prank. One of his more recent comedic ideas took place right here in Louisville in 2015.
“I had a concept for a video showing you can’t judge a book by its cover,” he says. “The idea would be that we would get four or five guys dressed like thugs, put them in nice subdivisions in Eastern Jefferson County, have them go up to houses and knock on strangers’ doors. When the homeowner finally opens the door they discover the guys aren’t there to rob them, they are there to sing Christmas carols.”
Outside of being in the limelight, Mabe also shares a passion for helping others in need, donating both his time and his talents to help in ways that are unique to him.
“I have a real passion for dogs and underdogs,” Mabe says. “I have done several videos featuring the Humane Society and other nonprofits that benefit the welfare of animals. I’m also currently managing and developing a former homeless man named “Homeless Herbie.” Our videos for him have gotten more than 150 million views and we’re taking our message to the masses with a tour starting late summer.”
Beyond his work, Mabe enjoys spending time with his family, his church, his five dogs that he calls his “fur babies.”
He and wife of 25 years, Melanie, have two children, Josh and Mack and all are members of the Jeffersontown Christian Church. His devotion to his faith even factors into his newest endeavor.
“Currently, I am working on a reality show called Campbellsville University the real CU, a faith-based college in the middle of Kentucky,” he says. “It’s featured on Facebook watch and our second season comes out mid-spring.”
As a man of many ventures, Mabe has also recently delved into the hemp business as well.
“Like myself, my son has Tourette syndrome, though more of a verbal tic, and right before we were going to do deep brain stimulation my wife suggested we try CBD oil,” he says. “I was extremely hesitant at first but after some research, we gave it a shot and now my son tics a few times a day, as opposed to once every eight to 12 seconds. So I took one of my commercial properties and turned it into the Hemp Wellness Farm off Benson Parkway. My dream is for my son to run the shop one day.”
Obviously, Mabe is and will always be a busy, sought after man and traveling still plays a large part in his work. But no matter what’s going on in his life, Mabe always makes time to hang out and enjoy his long adopted hometown of Jeffersontown and all the things it has to offer.
“I drive to Nashville or fly to Los Angeles a couple of times a month but always make it back home,” he says. “I don’t have to travel as much nowadays. My kids used to think I lived at the airport. But now on any given night, you’ll see me in J-Town at Louisville Pizza or the Recbar. I have canceled shows to not miss the Gaslight Festival.”
Mabe shrugs, because the reason is obvious. “This is home.”