Kurt Braunohler is just about everywhere. He lends his voice to characters on the hit show “Bob’s Burgers,” hosts a weekly comedy showcase and performs stand-up on a variety of late night talk shows.
“I have to just be constantly producing,” Braunohler said. “I always have to make something.”
But Braunohler still makes time to stop by one of his favorite places to perform: Minneapolis.
Starting Tuesday, the nationally acclaimed comedian will headline a week of shows at Acme Comedy Company, which Braunohler calls “one of the best clubs in the country.”
Although Braunohler has his hand in a lot of different projects — script writing, voice acting and hosting shows among them — he is a pure comic at heart.
“I am a stand-up first and everything else after that. I love stand-up,” Braunohler said.
However, according to Braunohler, he arrived at this conclusion fairly late in life. The comedian got his start making sketch and performing improv, and didn’t get into stand-up until age 29.
This transition ended up fitting Braunohler’s penchant for constant creation.
“I think stand-up is a working-man’s theater. The stuff I was doing before was very niche. With improv and sketch and stuff like that, you need to have an audience that is very comedy-savvy in order for it to work,” Braunohler said. “Whereas with stand-up, it works for anybody. Everybody understands it, and you can go anywhere.”
Braunohler’s style reflects his everyday-guy charm and on-stage charisma. With enthusiastic energy and a likeable demeanor, Braunohler slyly places himself on the same level as the audience so that they arrive at the punchline seemingly in unison.
In one bit, Braunohler jokes about putting his laundry in a trash compactor, with the audience aware from the start of his grave mistake.
For Braunohler, much of his material relies on his compelling way of telling a story. The comedian’s high-pitched voice elevates as he delves further into personal experiences, and he accentuates ridiculous concepts with over-the-top movements.
In one of his sets, Braunohler recounts proposing in a hot air balloon, his voice raising when the trip induces an anxiety attack in his wife and his body acting out the tight space of the small wicker box.
“I think that is just the way I tell stories,” Braunohler said. “I try and use my body a little bit. I had not thought about [body movements] in the past, but then my wife mentioned it to me recently, and I started giving it some thought.”
Braunohler approaches his performance as a constant evolution.
“When you go back and look at material generated over time, you can definitely see a big difference in it,” Braunohler said. “[Right now,] it’s predominately story-based. And I think that is a phase that I might move out of. … I want to address more concepts in the future.”
Braunohler takes intentional steps toward progress, often in his weekly “Hot Tub” stand-up show, co-hosted with fellow comedian Kristen Schaal for more than 10 years.
“Every week we are trying new material out,” Braunohler said. “With stand-up it often feels like you are standing in a void, stabbing at things and seeing what works. ... Sometimes you get lucky and you write 10 minutes, and six minutes is good and you keep it. But a lot of it is rewriting, where none of it works right away.”
For Braunohler, this is what makes stand-up appealing.
“I feel the happiest when I am making things,” Braunohler said. “If everything goes to hell with my career and I never book another part of sell another TV show, I can at least go out and tell jokes.”