This past January, Charlie Settles decided to pack up and move from his home in Traverse City, Michigan, to Minnesota in order to pursue his dreams of standup comedy. Tuesday night, it paid off.
Settles was crowned the winner of Acme’s Funniest Person Contest, and with it he received $1,000 in prize money (weirdly, second place was $500 in CBD... which feels like way too much CBD).
The finalists in this year’s contest, now in its 27th year, were arguably the most evenly matched as any in recent years. All five were funny, creative, and shockingly comfortable onstage. In Settles case, however, he’s anything but new. At just 23-years-old, he has already been pursuing his comedy career for seven years.
“I started when I was 16 at a wine bar in Traverse City that was a music open mic,” Settles says. “There really wasn’t much at all for comedy there, so I’d travel to Grand Rapid and Detroit when I could.”
Ultimately, he decided that the bright lights of Minneapolis were too much to ignore. Or rather, the slightly dimmer lights of St. Peter.
“I had a friend who had a room in St. Peter. So I moved in there, but I was driving an hour every night each way. In February, I moved to Minneapolis.”
Since then, he’s been a regular at open mic nights all over town, including Acme, Sisyphus, Erik the Red, and Galactic Pizza.
“The comedy scene has been very welcoming, very helpful,” he says. “I never feel alone or out of place, and I’ve felt that since the first night I’ve been here.”
After cruising through the first two rounds of the competition in July and August, Settles says he wasn’t confident of his victory before the names were read.
“I didn’t think I was going to win this round. I was surprised,” he says bluntly. “[The other finalists] are all of my friends up there. They were all really good, so I wasn’t sure how to react.”
In between filling out the tax forms for his big cash prize, which is the true mark of comedy stardom, Settles shared his lofty comedy goals for the future: “probably exactly the same thing as what I’ve been doing.”
And as for what he’ll do now that he’s joined the one-comma cash club?
“Save it. Put it in the bank. I’m really cheap.”