Hating the Chicago Bears and loving cheese all come with being a Wisconsinite, and comedian Charlie Berens gets it. Born and raised in Elm Grove, Berens turned Midwesterners’ proclivity to laugh at ourselves into internet gold. The comedian, who releases a new episode of the short web series “Manitowoc Minute” each week, is bringing his digital show to real-life audiences at Menasha’s Waverly Beach event hall on Apr. 6.
What inspired “Manitowoc Minute”?
Before going into comedy I worked as a news reporter and anchor in South Carolina and Dallas. Producers would call out my Wisconsin accent all the time because in news you have to make your accent as neutral as possible. Wisconsinites have a unique dialect – and it gets stronger the farther north you go.
What was it like going viral?
It’s been surreal watching this catch steam. I’ve spent years producing sketches and comedic commentary that got a fraction of the “Manitowoc Minute” views.
How is your sense of humor unique to Wisconsin?
I think Wisconsin loves to laugh with itself. I’ve lived in many other states working in the news business and the love for self-deprecating humor is particularly strong in Wisconsin. There’s just something about this state that says “I am who I am. Love me or leave me … alone to watch da Packers crush da Bears.”
Why do you think your show resonates so much with local audiences?
I think everyone likes being recognized to some extent – if not personally, they want their community or their hometown to be seen. They want to share it with family, friends, co-workers and say, “Yep, this is where I’m from.” [But] it’s not just local audiences that enjoy it. About 40 percent of my views come from other states and countries.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever been told?
That’s not printable. But the second-most [is]: One time a friend tried convincing me the Bears didn’t suck. I think he was being serious, too.
Check out the episode Manitowoc Minute that started it all, now with more than 170,000 views.