November 27, 2002
Leading a double life is never easy, but it’s rewarding for Michael Hornbuckle. A technology specialist at SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies, Hornbuckle doubles in what he calls his “second full-time job,” writing and performing in an up-and-coming comedy troupe.
He got his start in both fields at SFSU. While he was getting his bachelor’s in computer science, Hornbuckle studied acting and theatre on the side. After graduating, he spent another three years taking advanced classes in theatre arts, although he never formalized it into a master’s program because, he quips, “If you’re going to be a performer nobody cares if you’ve got a degree.”
Hornbuckle’s comedic flair was recognized in the Nov. 15 issue of Asian Week, where the national news weekly dubbed him a "favorite local actor" in its Best of the Asian Pacific American Bay Area edition. Describing him as “eccentric and wildly creative,” Asian Week honored Hornbuckle, a Taiwanese American, along with other Bay Area talents like Emil Guillermo, a long-time writer and broadcaster, and Vic Lee, an SFSU alumnus and veteran reporter for KRON-TV.
In 1994 Hornbuckle and a group of like-minded performers founded the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, which has been Hornbuckle’s sole vehicle for writing and performing ever since.
One of the Warriors’ jokes is that there were never 18 members in the group. The 10 performers style themselves as an “Asian Saturday Night Live,” doing zany comedy skits that poke fun at Asian America and U.S. culture in general.
The irreverent set, which labels itself “the world's most psychotic Asian American comedy group,” has performed all over the Bay Area, as well as in several major cities, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The troupe has also done engagements in Hong Kong, and Hornbuckle hopes they can arrange more international tours in the near future. He jokes they will perform “anyplace we won’t get killed.”
Working for the University that also trained him as a performer has been a positive experience for Hornbuckle. “I love my day job. It’s fantastic working at San Francisco State University,” he says. He adds that the staff and administration have supported his theatre career and have given him flexibility for scheduling shows and tours. Hornbuckle also notes that SFSU has a tradition of turning out great performers such as actors Dennis Dun and Danny Glover.
For the future, Hornbuckle wants to continue honing his comedy. He is inspired by contemporary actors like Dun, but also by classic comedy acts like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the Marx brothers and Laurel and Hardy. He hopes the group’s work bucks stereotypes about Asians and Asian Americans and will allow greater freedom for performers of Asian descent to work in whatever genre they choose.
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