Callings: Connecting Through Comedy

Ole Miss alumnus Mack Hubbell pursues career in New York City

During his time at the university, Mack Hubbell participated in various campus events, including the Great 38 Race. Hubbell, who graduated in 2019, is a monologue writers’ assistant on ‘The Tonight Show,’ and says he learned the skills necessary to follow his passion at Ole Miss. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Backstage at “The Tonight Show,” Mack Hubbell (BS 19) reviews host Jimmy Fallon’s monologue with care, ensuring the jokes are sharp and accurate. The show’s success hinges on many elements, perhaps none as important as the comedic opening segment filled with timely jokes about the day’s news. 

As the monologue writers’ assistant, Hubbell’s primary role is staying current on the news and keeping a keen eye on the script. He verifies facts and dates and proofreads jokes, catching grammar and punctuation mistakes. As the monologue takes shape, Hubbell reviews all details meticulously, from the big political stories to the smaller, offbeat news items that highlight everyday life. 

Hubbell landed the position around the time he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in integrated marketing communications. His ambitions are to one day perform comedy, write sketches or even act – a calling fueled by the passion, enthusiasm and spirit of connection he found as an Ole Miss undergraduate. 

“I really like to write, and I really like to perform,” Hubbell said. “On a very basic level, I’ve always liked making people laugh.

“Humor and comedy bring people together. I think it’s fun when someone who’s 60 and someone who is 15 both find what you do funny. It’s a good balance to strike within comedy.” 

Besides his work as a writers’ assistant, Hubbell began recording and sharing comedy videos during the COVID-19 pandemic, when shutdowns left him stuck in his New York apartment with time to spare. He later began doing sketch comedy videos with a group of friends, which have accrued a sizable following on social media.

Hubbell has also acted in short plays and live sketch comedy, seizing opportunities as they arise.

Mack Hubbell (center) celebrates with friends after a comedy show performance at SoHo Playhouse, an Off-Broadway theater in Manhattan. Submitted photo

One fan is Debbie Woodrick Hall, instructional associate professor of integrated marketing communications at Ole Miss, who taught Hubbell as a student.

“Very quickly after he graduated, I started following Mack on Twitter,” Hall said. “I was so impressed that he had such a great job, and I started realizing from his tweets that, dang, this kid is funny. His videos poke fun at himself and poke fun at New Yorkers. He’s very clever, and I think he landed in a perfect place for him.

“It’s really fun to watch a student take the skills they’ve learned in our courses and apply them to where their passion is. He’s where his passion lies.”

Hubbell is originally from Lake Oswego, Oregon, but his family’s history is in Mississippi. His mother, Polly Hubbell, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graduated from Ole Miss. His great-grandfather and grandfather, both from Mississippi, also attended the university before pursuing medicine. 

“I wanted to go to Ole Miss since I was a kid,” Hubbell said. “My mom grew up listening to baseball games on the radio with her dad in the car. I grew up with Eli Manning as my hero and grew up in love with Ole Miss and Oxford.

Mack Hubbell (center) officiates the wedding of his sister, Field (left), and her husband, Harry Keck, in Oxford in April 2023. Submitted photo

“Oxford is an oasis with so many dimensions: a fun college town with a football team, a home for writers and a picturesque town where the people are amazing.”

Hubbell’s older sister, Field Hubbell Keck (BBA 16), and younger brother, Henry Hubbell (BBA 23), also share the family’s passion for Ole Miss and Oxford. Keck recalls that their father, Ward, made the 2,000-mile drive from Oregon to Mississippi with each child.

When Mack arrived as a freshman, Keck felt protective of her younger brother, only to watch him quickly establish his presence on campus. 

“We’re a tight-knit family, and I felt like I needed to look after him,” Keck said. “But after he had spent two months on campus, I started to have girls in my sorority – some who I didn’t even know – walk up to me and say, ‘I met your brother, and he’s the best person on Earth.’

“That’s just the type of person he is. You can’t get enough of him.” 

Keck, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, is amazed and proud to see her brother pursuing his passion.

“It’s fun to hear people think the same way about him that I do,” she said. “Friends from high school who knew him as the little brother who wouldn’t stop performing and telling jokes are now saying he’s killing it.”

Hubbell has found camaraderie in New York City through his Ole Miss alumni network, such as fellow graduate Kendall Ketchum, a stand-up comedian he met at an alumni event. He frequently finds himself running into other Ole Miss graduates who have also made their way to the city’s arts and entertainment world. Hubbell is grateful for the community.

Provost Noel Wilkin (left) congratulates Mack Hubbell’s induction into the Columns Society, a group of students who serve at university events and who embody the university’s welcoming spirit, in 2017. Submitted photo

“Ole Miss follows you around everywhere you go,” he said. “There’s a lot of successful people from Mississippi and from Ole Miss doing great things up here.”

Hubbell also said his high level of university involvement exposed him to friendships with people from different backgrounds, helping him to understand new people. 

“The warmth you experience from people at Ole Miss helps prepare you to succeed in whatever you do professionally, whether it’s comedy or finance,” he said. “It helps prepare you for the world.

“Knowing how to connect with people is so valuable. It’s a bit of a hidden superpower.”