Homegrown humor

University alumnus Cy Amundson headlines at Acme Comedy Company through Saturday night.

University of Minnesota alumnus and stand-up comedian Cy Amundson will be performing new material at the Acme Comedy Company this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Cy Amundson

University of Minnesota alumnus and stand-up comedian Cy Amundson will be performing new material at the Acme Comedy Company this weekend.

Danylo Loutchko

The worst Cy Amundson ever bombed doing stand-up comedy was at a gig for a University of Minnesota fraternity formal.
 
 
“I had to do it at Santorini restaurant. They showed up an hour and a half late — there wasn’t a stage,” Amundson said. “They just made me stand in the center of the room, and all these rich kids and their awful dates sat around a table — I have to tell jokes without a microphone. Then they start heckling me.”
 
 
While the heckle-the-comedian-to- impress-your-date tactic might have panned out for his audience that night, Amundson said, it sure didn’t for the performer.
 
 
Stories like these aren’t strange for Cy Amundson — they’re just some of the situations that come with the job title of comedian. He brings the culmination of his work this week as a headliner at Acme Comedy Company.
 
 
Amundson said he has headlined at Acme about once a year for the past few years but will be performing new material at this week’s shows.
 
 
“I’m always writing new stuff. I think that’s the lifeblood of a comic,” Amundson said. “I’ve always taken a lot of pride in the fact that each year I have a fairly large chunk of new material. … There’s going to be a lot of stuff that somebody who came last year didn’t see.”
 
 
Each comedian has an original process for creating new content, Amundson said. For him, writing involves jotting down his daily experiences and thoughts and sifting through them later with an eye for joke material.
 
 
“Just like stand-up is unique to the individual, I think the writing process is unique to the individual,” said Amundson. “I think my stand-up now is more long-form, story-based and thought-out as opposed to when I first started, [when I just hoped I] could write a minute or two-minute joke.”
 
 
Amundson, a born-and-raised Minnesotan, said his childhood was founded on television.
 
 
“As a little kid I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV, so I watched a ton of Nick at Nite,” he said. “I was always kind of obsessed with old sitcoms and having my own TV show. Then I got older and Adam Sandler started to exist on SNL, and it got drilled in a little bit more that I wanted to do something comedy related.”
 
 
Amundson started doing comedy while enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with degrees in Kinesiology and Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies. 
 
 
“I didn’t go acting school or anything like that, so I thought stand-up might be an avenue. I tried it and fell in love with stand-up almost immediately,” he said. “That’s been the path ever since.”
 
 
When Amundson debuted as a comic, Acme Comedy Company was a formative stomping ground. Even though he now lives in Los Angeles, he still returns to Acme to perform. 
 
 
As a rising comic, he has appeared on “Conan,” “American Dad” and the Comedy Central show, “This is Not Happening.” He also released a comedy album in 2014 entitled “Lovesick in Toledo.” But the grind is not the only thing that makes comedy a difficult career track, 
according to Amundson.
 
 
“I think stand-up is so closely tied to who you are as a person that if your job goes poorly, it feels like your life is going poorly,” Amundson said.
 
 
He said despite his success, he hasn’t forgotten how difficult it is to make a living being funny. 
 
 
“You have to treat it as a profession,” Amundson said. “You can’t slack your way through it. Nobody’s that skilled. You have to go out and put the work in and refine it.”
 
Cy Amundson
Where: Acme Comedy Company, 708 First St. N., Minneapolis
When: various times through Saturday
Cost: $15-33