Bonding with Berens

Bonding+with+Berens

Jessica Parsons

The Forest Roberts Theatre last Thursday night was flooded with Wisconsinites and fans of Charlie Berens’ show, the Manitowoc Minute. This was his first time performing at NMU and the farthest north he’s taken his show.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., opening act and local comedian Devon Grice set a comedic tone among the audience and atmosphere. Small chuckles and fragments of laughter gave a welcoming feedback to Grice’s new style. She talked of meditation, style and bonded with the crowd on current events. Traditional red curtains aligned the sides of a screen that projected “@icyplunder”, Grice’s social media tag that encouraged audience members to interact with her online.

“It’s hard to be friends with them because they want to talk about their president all the time,” Grice opened up, about six minutes into her performance, talking about her friends. “[They say], ‘He’s just what this country needs. He’s going to fix everything from the climate to the economy. It’s going to be great,’ and I’m like, ‘Really? Because he’s been divorced four times so I don’t know how he’s going to fix it exactly. But him being divorced four times is my favorite thing about him because that means that four of them got away.’”

The stage was set for Berens’ appearance: a brown desk and chair with the Wisconsin flag sat at one corner, and an acoustic guitar was propped up at the other. Before Berens made his appearance, a canoeing video of Berens and his character filled the room with laughter. He then hopped on stage, and enthusiastically greeted the audience with a loud and welcoming applause in return.

“This week’s episode [of the Manitowoc Minute] is brought to you by Northern Michigan University,” Berens exclaimed, “where the more you drink, the funnier I get.”

In his popular segment called “The Craigslist Kicker,” Berens interacted with the audience in a pretend auction bidding for a Wildcat garden gnome. Starting at $13, the bid eventually reached $70.

In another skit, Berens sang a song about the letter “H” and the lyrics consisted of apologizing to the letter because of the way it gets left out in Wisconsin-pronunciation.

“You give me ‘oh my gosh’ and ‘holy cow,’” Berens sang. “Hey der ‘H’ without you, I wouldn’t be Charlie. I’d be Carlie.”

About an hour into the show, the crowd cheered when things got more personal as Berens asked, “Do you guys mind if the other Charlie comes out for a little bit?” He took off his camo jacket and explained it’s how he “transforms” out of character. He continued the rest of the show like this in exception to the very end as a means to wrap things up before leaving for the night.

There were hats, koozies, T-shirts and other items for sale out in the hallway, all with unique patterns or catchy sayings that appear on Berens’ show.

For more information, visit Berens’ website www.manitowocminute.com or to stay entertained and updated on the comedian’s life, check out his YouTube channel under the name Charlie Berens.