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Tia Hannes Wins Acme’s Funniest Person Contest but Still Needs a Haircut

She's the third woman to win the contest in the last four years. Hell yeah.

Patrick Strait|

“I’m a software engineer, which is surprising,” Hannes’s set began, “…if you’re sexist.”

Tia Hannes managed to cram guns, sexism, and blowjob jokes into her three minute-set at Acme last night, which was enough to earn her the title of the Funniest Person in the Twin Cities.

The show was the culmination of a summer-long competition pitting the best up-and-coming amateur comics, curious newbies, and cringey first-timers against one another in hopes of joining a prestigious list of Acme favorites who cut their teeth in the contest. The initial collection of several hundred hopefuls was whittled down to the five finalists, who competed Wednesday night before a packed audience and a gaggle of judges (including a few of your buds over here at Racket).

“This is such a respected club, and it can be tough to get open mic time, so I really wanted to do well,” says Hannes, who's only been performing comedy for about a year.

While the field of finalists was arguably one of the best the Acme contest has seen in recent years, it was Hannes’s delicate balance of intelligence and vulnerability—with juuust the right amount of raunchiness thrown in—that made her stand out above the rest.

“When I first started doing comedy, for the first six months I was just raunchy,” Hannes says. “I learned how to write jokes doing raunchy, because sometimes it’s easier to get laughs that way. I knew that once I was ready to open up and do more personal stuff, I wanted to do it well.”

From left: Acme's Funniest Person in the Twin Cities finalists Richard Z and Tia Hannes, host Bryan Miller, and finalists Luke Pauling and Dave Gus. (Not pictured: finalist Foz Huze.)Patrick Strait

While last night was her first time getting paid thanks to her jokes—the winner receives $1,000 in prize money—Hannes has been a regular in the local standup scene ever since she got up for her first open mic at Comedy Corner Underground. Ironically, it was the night when SNL’s Michael Che popped in
unannounced and played the role of club emcee for the evening.

“The first time I ever got onstage I got introduced by Michael Che,” she laughs. “After I was done, he called me a gangsta and I was like, ‘I’ve made it.’ It was just insane.”

Che’s endorsement aside, Hannes has been steadily building material and polishing her stage presence, both of which helped her earn the title of runner-up in both the Sisyphus and Comedy Corner Underground contests earlier this summer. But her misdirects, sensitivity, and creativity finally pushed her up into the one spot last night.

“Between having a job and trying to do comedy and a lot of other things in my life, I’ve had moments where I thought maybe this might all be too much,” Hannes admits. “But winning this contest kind of reinforces, like, hey, I’m not embarrassing myself. I can do this.”

Last night’s show also served as a showcase of past contest winners and contestants including Bryan Miller, Nate Abshire, Elise Cole, and Greg Coleman, all of whom have become Acme mainstays. All four comics spent the majority of their time trying out new bits and riffing about the most important current events. (A special shoutout to Greg Coleman, who recently bravely took a shit at the State Fair.)

But the biggest spotlight of the night was reserved for Hannes, who is the third woman to win the contest in the past four years. Gender aside, Hannes is one of the many younger voices that are actively evolving the local comedy scene today.

“There are a lot of people in my age group doing comedy right now,” she says. “It’s really inspiring for me because I’d always watch standup specials growing up with older comics who would talk about having kids and things like that. But when I saw people my age talking about the life experiences that we’re having, it made me feel like I could do it too.”

As for what’s next, Hannes says she wants her big win to be a motivator to write more material that is personal, substantive, and, most importantly, funny to her.

"I want to write more stuff that makes me laugh,” she says. And as for the fat stacks she took home last night? Hannes has some truly decadent plans.

“The first thing on the list is that I need to get a haircut desperately,” she laughs. “We’ll see after that.”

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