5 Minnesota comedians to watch in 2016

Greg Coleman

Greg Coleman performs at Acme Comedy Company in 2015

If you feel like you’ve heard Greg Coleman’s voice before, you probably have. As a former personality on the Tony Fly Morning Show on the old B96 radio, Coleman was known for writing bits and firing off jokes all morning long. It was Tiffany Norton and Shannan Paul, his fellow radio team members and accomplished stand-up comedians, who encouraged him to get on stage. “I knew I wanted to do stand-up comedy, but I didn’t know how,” Coleman recalls. “I did a lot of sketch writing and TV shows in college, so I had done everything around except stand-up.”

greg coleman

Greg Coleman

While others in his position may have used their radio fame to gain stage time at more established clubs, Coleman cut his teeth on smaller stages just like countless other new comedians. “I got up for the first time at Galactic Pizza,” he laughs. “I did some stupid jokes and did OK, so I decided to stop talking about it and start doing it for real.”

Coleman’s ability as a performer translated seamlessly into the stand-up comedy world, and he soon found himself making tremendous strides in his career. He was selected as a finalist for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) comedy contest, where he was invited to perform at the world-famous Comedy Store in California.

“I was only two years in and I got to do the main room at the Comedy Store,” Coleman says. “This is the place where Richard Pryor and those kinds of guys performed, so it was huge to be included. Unfortunately, the people who went before me just ate it for seven minutes, so I had to go into performer mode and get the crowd back into it.”

Coleman finished fifth overall in the contest, but the experience helped him continue to expand his comedy resume locally. “I consider it an accomplishment that I was asked to work at House of Comedy after just a year into doing stand-up, and at Acme after two-and-a-half years,” he says.

Unfortunately, what could have been the crowning achievement in his comedy career thus far ended up being thwarted—by technology. “I was considered to open for Chappelle when he came to town, but my phone was dead,” Coleman says. “When I finally got it charged up, I had a bunch of missed calls and they had already found someone else.”

Still, Coleman hasn’t let one near-miss with fame slow down his momentum. “My goal is just to keep getting better,” he says. “I’d like to get into some festivals and keep expanding my network, and maybe getting on Last Comic Standing. That would be a goal, too.”

In addition to his specific goals for the New Year, Coleman’s long-term plan includes finding success while representing his hometown. “It might sound kind of corny, but I really want to make it from Minnesota,” he says. “People are always telling me I should go out to Los Angeles or New York, but I want to be able to say I made it big while I was still in Minneapolis.”

Where you can see him next: Acme Comedy Company from February 9–14, and House of Comedy at the Mall of America from March 1–6.

On Twitter: @SayGCole

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