Viral midwest comedian comes to Stephens Auditorium

The phrases “Keep ‘er movin’” and “Tell your folks I say hi,” paired with an authentic Wisconsin accent, are what made Charlie Berens known throughout TikTok. The comedian will be performing stand-up at Stephens Auditorium Saturday night.

“I was in news before, but I wasn’t always good at news. I kind of realized I had an accent,” Berens said. “I started doing stand-up after I left a couple news jobs, and I kind of developed this character who instead of taking all the things people said he was doing wrong in news and changing them, this character doubled down on them.”

Manitowoc Minute, Berens’ brand and Midwest news segment, was created based on this character. His “midwest voice translator,” “midwest siri” and “husbands of target” videos made him a YouTube sensation, each reaching over two million views.

“I did one episode not expecting to do a second episode, like my stand-up was a bit of having this Midwest news guy,” Berens said. “It was doing really well on stage, so I decided to make a video of that, and there was a guy in the audience from Manitowoc. So, I named a bit after him not expecting to do another one, and then that was one of the first things I did that really took off.”

Fans of his content are not always able to make it to where he is at, so he uses multiple social media platforms in order to “be at the places they already are.” His popularity grew substantially when he started posting clips of his videos on TikTok.

“Of course with TikTok, you can have a lot of fun with trends and that kind of stuff. It’s almost like a creative playground in a sense,” Berens said. “If you don’t have a creative idea, you can say, ‘Okay, what is sort of the trending idea?’ and then kind of find a way to meet the trends but also change it. It’s kind of like an invite to tweak it for the video. There’s some surprise in what you create.”

Berens compares this strategy to the “yes and” rule of improv — which he used to do in Los Angeles — where something can always be added to a scene.

Creating a video typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours and some days can last 10 to 12 hours. This includes set-up, filming and editing. Berens has noticed the amount of time spent on a video does not directly affect the success of the post, as some of his best videos have taken the least amount of time.

Starting out, Berens was doing this all on his own, but now he has a team of producers and filmers.

“I cannot do it without my team now,” Berens said. “We’re doing videos on these various platforms, I’m on the road touring, and also we’re doing a couple podcasts. That seems like a lot of work, because it is, but I’m most certainly not doing it by myself anymore, which I’m very thankful for. I’ve got a very talented team.”

Berens is also a New York Times bestselling author with his book, “Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat… Everything With Ranch.”

This all-ages show starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening 45 minutes prior. Tickets are limited but available online.