Comedian Charlie Berens will be doing his first Menomonie show at the great hall tonight. The Wisconsin native is known for his web series “The Manitowoc Minute” where he wears a camouflage jacket, sports an over-the-top Wisconsin accent and takes a comedic look at the happenings of the region.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Check out an interview with Berens below.
How has the tour been?
The tour has been awesome. I feel insanely lucky to go around my home state and do these shows. I’ve done a lot of stand up in LA or around the country, but nothing is as good as these shows. Part of what’s cool is The Manitowoc Minute began as a digital show and now has this live element. Many people are used to connecting online but when you can bring those people together in one room, the energy is tough to match.
Have you been to Menomonie before?
This will be my first time in Menomonie, but I just played a show in Eau Claire and it was a ton of fun. I love the region. Beyond that, my first year of college was in the Twin Cities and we spent a lot of time going to cabins in this area. We’d also engage in the bi-weekly Spotted Cow runs.
How do you create your Manitowoc Minute persona? Has anyone influenced your style?
I come from a stand up and improv background, both of which tell you to rely on what you know. I think I’ve been subconsciously creating the persona most of my life. My family spent a lot of time up North, I spent a lot of time watching fishing shows and my grandparents are from Fond du Lac, so I get influence from all over. The persona is just channeling all of what I grew up with and exaggerating it for the sake of comedy.
How do you keep your comedy style relatable?
I think with this character it’s important to avoid clichés. Obviously when someone says Wisconsin, people will think of cheese, beer and Packers. And I definitely include all of those in The Manitowoc Minute. But there’s so much more that’s interesting about the state and the Midwest in general.
Are there any bits or jokes you relate to the most?
I have a lot of favorite bits, it’s tough to pick. I will say I’m especially proud of our wall to wall coverage on Joey da Kangaroo escaping from Jerry Smith’s pumpkin farm. Senior Kangaroo correspondent Joel Boyd joined me for that report and I think we have a real shot at a local Emmy.
Beyond that, any day I can turn a Craigslist missed connection into a country love ballad and/or blues standard is a good day in my book.
Do any regions respond better to certain jokes?
Well I get a lot of people in this part of the state that want me to change the sign off from F da Bears to F da Vikings. There’s also a divide over what you call a bubbler. Some people think you should call it a “water fountain”? The show seems to get a lot of positive response throughout the Midwest, but it also has been gaining a lot of steam outside the region too. I’d say 40 percent of my views come from other parts of the country.
Are there any Wisconsin stereotypes you’ve heard that seem the most far-fetched? Are there any that you’ve found are often true?
I think the far-fetched stereotype is that all we do is drink beer and eat cheese. I just says come on der guy! We also eat da brats.
In all seriousness, I’m sure some of the stereotypes are rooted in truth, but they’re so much more complex and interesting. My character starts with the stereotype but then quickly branches out to hopefully change that tired perception.
Any other comments you want to share with the UW-Stout community?
Come see da show real quick once and keep ‘er movin!