Now, as great as that VFW hall may be, if you’re truly seeking to experience the crown jewel of Minnesota comedy, head over to the Acme Comedy Company. For more than 20 years, owner Louis Lee has not only attracted some of the greatest comedians of all time, but has also managed to launch multiple generations of new talent, and even helped to expose comedy fans to the “right” way to see a comedy show: no heckling, talking, or general dickery (though the latter sadly still rears its ugly head in other comedy clubs).
Last April, Louis CK name-dropped Acme on The Tonight Show when he shared a story about how Lee gave him his first big payday in comedy. This past spring, Hannibal Buress popped in for two nights of shows at the very last minute -- based solely on his past experiences at Acme. Furthermore, the club's weekly open mic night has been the launchpad for big names like Nick Swardson, and it’s not uncommon for headliners to arrive in town early and hop onstage without warning, knowing that the opportunity to work out new material in front of a comedy-savvy audience is a rarity for any standup.
“Acme is always going to be Acme,” says Brody. “It’s always going to be steady and it’s always going to be great.”
Paul, a regular performer at Acme, fully agrees with Brody’s assessment, claiming the Minneapolis scene is met with nothing but praise when she tours. "[Comedians] all want to talk about how great this market is for comedy. It’s really a shining jewel.”
More recently, network television has noticed the strength of the Twin Cities’ comedy scene, as well, sending producers from late-night talk shows and reality TV to scout new potential breakout stars. Ken Reed, co-owner of the Joke Joint Comedy Club in St. Paul, credits NBC’s Last Comic Standing contestant (and local finalist) Andy Erikson as part of the reason for the increased demand for comedy in the area.
“Andy Erickson’s appearance on Last Comic Standing gave a jolt of energy to the scene,” says Reed. “Watching her success has inspired other comedians to keep at it and to keep getting better.”