Charlie Berens’ performance at The Den theater in Chicago’s Wicker Park found a way to make even the Bears and the Packers fans happy last Saturday night. With over 7 million followers on social media, an Emmy Award in journalism, and creator of the “Manitowoc Minute” (look it up and thank me later), it’s no wonder The Den added a third performance to the booking. Berens’ act lovingly mocks what it means to be a Midwesterner; values we all embrace even if someone from LA or NY can pinpoint our origins within 30 seconds of speaking to us. Attending performance number two for the talented comic revealed that each time he steps foot on stage, it’s different as he hones in on his unique yet homogeneous audience.
Berens’ act, a clean, never off-color commentary about life in the Midwest, didn’t missed a beat as he read his audience’s reactions. His polished narration allowed for detours along the way, and with our show, he heard a small voice yell out his father’s name. This, of course, led to raucous family stories from Berens’ life amidst nearly a dozen siblings. Veering back onto the comic road, Berens found the mixed audience (Bears and Packers fans) to embrace his lack of love for all things Soldier Field then quickly presented his famously newsworthy segment the “Manitowoc Minute.”
The invitingly comfortable and intimate theater setting made it a perfect venue for this interactive comic who created non-stop laughs and even a few gasps as two audience members found themselves in a bidding war for used “merch,” the proceeds going to a worthy cause. His role of auctioneer and narrator depicting his (and our) thoughts of the antics kept us on our toes proving that he was always two steps ahead (or more) of us at all times.
Berens has a relatable quality, dressed in jeans and hiking boots (perhaps from Fleet Farm or as we in Illinois call it Farm & Fleet), he invites us into his life’s not so successful moments as well such as a golfing gig in Central Indiana. This self-deprecating style of humor along with his myriad facial expressions to punctuate the punch line, creates belly laughs while endearing us to him.
If you missed Berens at The Den, his tour continues through Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and more through early 2024. While he won’t be back at the gorgeously comfortable and unique Wicker Park theater, you can find more acts at The Den Theatre