Behind the Scenes: Charlie Berens at the Riverside Theater

Behind the Scenes: Charlie Berens at the Riverside Theater

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Charlie Berens is a very busy man. Right now, Mr. Manitowoc Minute is on the tail-end of a nationwide comedy tour. So far, 89 shows in 46 cities and counting. And for a guy who grew up in southeast Wisconsin, no stop is more special than the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. 

To him, it's everything - it's your hometown crowd and it's a beautiful theater.

Dante Williams, Charlie's producer, is first to show up at the theater. It's his job to get everything ready. 

"Everything behind the scenes, to where it makes his life easy. He can focus on, 'alright, this is the set I'm going to do tonight.' He can show up, walk out on stage, and not have to worry about anything else."

This is the first of four sold out shows for the "Good Old-Fashioned Tour" at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. 

"There are people coming in that have emailed us from hours and hours away because they haven't been able to get into other ones, and they just say we have to see our hometown, home state boy, Charlie Berens."

Charlie arrives a couple hours before the show for sound check. 

On the eighth floor of the Riverside is Charlie's private bar and restaurant, with plenty of his Berens brandy and his custom menu.

As Charlie eats dinner and makes a few final tweaks to his bit, the crowd is pouring in downstairs. The line outside stretches to the river. 

When the opening acts take the stage, Charlie's watching, stage left. 

"You're trying to get a sense of the crowd. Where is this crowd at? Is it a Thursday night? A Saturday night? Do they have to work tomorrow? Are they drinking? Is it a late show? And that determines kind of the speed you're going to go at the beginning."

"I try to look in the eyes of the people that I can see and make sure they're having a good time. If there's someone that looks like they're not having a good time, there is part of me that is going make them have a good time."

Not having a good time was not a problem at this show. Charlie was on stage for over an hour, his Midwest sense of humor drawing countless laughs and even a surprise proposal. 

"And that's another instance of being in the moment... you never know what the audience is going to give you. They give you a 'yes,' you say 'and' and you see where it goes. And sometimes it leads to a proposal!"

Charlie sang songs from his bluegrass albums, and of course, did a Manitowoc Minute. 

"I try never to take it for granted. Because I know a year from now, two years from now, this could not be the case. Just enjoy it when it's here and just have fun."

"Thank you, Milwaukee, goodnight!"

Share this article: