Wyatt Cenac has an acute and poignant way of telling the truth, served with a side of humor.
He has spent years making a name for himself in the comedy world through standup, movies and television shows.
And Cenac will bring his act to Minneapolis Oct. 15-17, performing three shows at Acme Comedy Company.
Murphy News Service recently caught up with Cenac over the phone to discuss his upcoming visit to the Twin Cities.
Cenac on the Twin Cities
The comedian performed at the Turf Club in St. Paul last October. He said he loves trying new restaurants in his tour cities, and St. Paul led him straight to a Juicy Lucy cheeseburger.
“[Last time] I burned my tongue on a Juicy Lucy,” Cenac said. “I didn’t really know what it was—I just knew it was a cheeseburger… I learned my lesson.”
Cenac said he plans to visit a few Minneapolis restaurants and museums this weekend, so fans might see him around town.
Cenac on stand-up
His comedic roots lie in stand-up. Cenac said his first performance was at a comedy club while he was a student at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The club had an open-mike night that allowed each participant three minutes to speak.
“I sped through my whole set in one minute and ran offstage,” he said. “[It was] the most exhilarating and terrifying minute in my life.”
He said he promises fans he can stay on the stage a little longer now.
Some of his favorite topics are moments derived from his life and topical things he sees in the world, he said. He hosts a weekly standup show in Brooklyn where he gets to experiment with different jokes.
“It’s this weird little creative space for me,” Cenac said. “Even just on the walk to the show I’ll think of things to add.”
Immediacy is key to Cenac’s standup routine. He said he loves that he gets to share ideas with audiences and get a clear and immediate response on their opinions.
“If [a joke] works, I’ll keep it. If not, I’ll leave it,” he said.
Cenac on Jon Stewart
Cenac said he learned most of what he knows about creating material from the ground up from his time at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
He was a writer and correspondent for “The Daily Show” from 2008 to 2012.
Stewart and Cenac have had a famously rocky relationship. Cenac, an African-American, once said he did not like the racial implications of Stewart’s impression of Herman Cain, the black Republican presidential hopeful who ran in the 2012 primaries. The argument escalated and Stewart reportedly told Cenac to “f–k off.”
Cenac and Stewart showed fans they had reconciled their differences when Cenac was invited to appear on Stewart’s last episode of “The Daily Show” in August..
“We’re as fine as we ever were. I’m sure if we see each other it will be the same,” Cenac said.
He added that stand-up gives fans an opportunity to see him in a different way.
Onstage, he is no longer Wyatt Cenac of “The Daily Show” or a writer for the Fox network’s “King of the Hill” animated comedy or anything else. He said he is “Wyatt Cenac, stand-up comedian,” which is how he started and how he said he wants to be seen on tour. Cenac said he will perform all new material for his Minneapolis shows.
“Whatever I do, let it speak for itself. Those things speak independently,” he said.
Reporter Madison Bloomquist is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.
WANT TO GO? Wyatt Cenac’s shows will start at 8 p.m. Oct. 15-17 at Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis. Tickets are $15 on Thursday night and $18 on Friday and Saturday nights. Call the club at 612-338-6393 to learn about other ticket options or go to www.acmecomedycompany.com.