Crystal Theatre Talent Show winner and ‘Professional Talker’ Brendon Nelsen (middle) poses with Natalie LeVan (right) and Tyler Ramsbey (left). Ramsbey performed a religious rap while LeVan performed as a vocal solo act. Ramsbey and LeVan finished in second and third respectively.
The historic Crystal Theatre in Flandreau held their fourth annual ‘Crystal’s Got Talent’ amateur talent show last Saturday night in efforts to find one area act that stood out from the rest.
Brendon Nelsen’s stand up comedy was that act. Nelsen is the definition of an amateur, but he has a lot higher aspirations in mind.
“It is a dream to be a headliner in Vegas, to go on tour around America doing stand up. To be able to go all over the country making people laugh is not just a dream for me, but it is a life goal,” said Nelsen, a Dell Rapids, SD native.
Nelsen has a knack for making people laugh, he always has, but it wasn’t until recently that he knew it was something that he wanted to do the rest of his life. His funny anecdotes combined with on point impersonations of many of the worlds best characters makes Nelsen a perfect fit in the comedy world.
“I can do about 25-30 impressions,” said Nelsen who started working on his skills at an early age. “I started with Jim Carrey with the Ace Ventura movies,” which came out when Nelsen was just six-years-old,
“But it stopped for a while until the Blue Collar Comedy Tour came out and that’s when everyone heard about Larry the Cable Guy,” which became popular in 2001, a seven year hiatus for Nelsen.
“He was my favorite comedian and I started walking around the house talking like him with no practice. That is when my friends and family helped me realize how good I was.”
He essentially perfected his Larry the Cable Guy impersonation.
“That was the only voice I would do for a while, friends and family members would call me to have me talk like Larry the Cable Guy just to get a good laugh and show other people my talent.”
But it would take more than one impression for Nelsen to get anywhere in the industry, a goal he had not yet set for himself.
“The turning point for me is when Frank Caliendo became well known and was all over television. I would watch a lot of his videos from his stand up and just him doing voices on FOX NFL Sunday. That is when I learned I could do a whole lot more impressions,” said Nelsen, who considers himself more of a ‘Professional Talker’.
But he was still just a guy sitting on his couch performing for his friends and family. But those people quickly helped him realize his talents.
“The more I did them the better I got and the more people laughed and just were absolutely amazed at what I could do. I think that is when I had myself convinced that just maybe I could do a stand up act or something like that.”
Plenty of time has passed since Nelsen decided that he could do a stand up act, but he never really knew where he could enhance his skill. He had never heard about the Crystal talent show and there was never really anything else that came up. So he continued to just live his life, work at a furniture store in Sioux Falls, as well as part-time at the Dells Bowling Alley, making people laugh when he could. He did have his first run in with a live performance a few years ago while at a restaurant in Fargo, ND.
“My friends kept telling the waitress that I could talk like Larry the Cable Guy, well she didn’t believe it so I proved her wrong and she was in shock.” But that was just the beginning of what turned out to be an eventful night for Nelsen.
“There was a band playing and when they took their break, the waitress asked the manager if I could go on stage for a little bit. Once I got up there and started with Larry the Cable Guy, people started turning their chairs around to make sure it wasn’t the real Larry. I had the whole bar laughing within minutes.” Nelsen ended up on stage until the restaurant closed, meaning the band never got back on stage, something that everyone was okay with, even the band. “They gave me a lot of compliments and some pointers to help me later on down the road.”
He used those pointers last weekend in front of the packed Crystal Theatre. Nelsen made it past the opening round despite being extremely nervous.
“This talent show was my first actual stand up performance where I had been writing material for a month or so. I was nervous and you could tell but once I got that first round over with, I knew more of how I was going to present the stories and the punch lines, so I felt much more confident in myself during the finals.
Even after taking home the grand prize from his first ever show, Nelsen still wanted more. Recently, Nelsen decided to try out for the popular NBC show ‘America’s Got Talent.’ So the small town South Dakotan hoped on his first ever airplane and flew to Chicago for the auditions.
After sitting in waiting room after waiting room for about six hours, Nelsen’s name was finally called in for his audition.
“I had pictured something totally different, which caught me off guard when I was called up to do my audition. There was no microphone, no feedback, other than a few laughs from the producer in the room.”
But even after all that, Nelsen was still confident that it went well. “If they are to look at my impressions alone and not the way I presented them, I guess to me, I don’t know how they wont call.”
The call he is referring to is the call from the producers telling him that he made the show. If he was good enough, they will call him sometime between now and April, if not, he won’t hear a thing.
So until then, Nelsen will continue to practice his acts for his friends, family, and well, anyone who will listen, because he knows that his act still needs work.
“The weak part of my act is the flow of my stand up due to the fact that I haven’t really ever practiced it, but the strong part is my impressions, I practice them everyday.”
So from now until hopefully his career as a professional talker comes to an end at a ripe old age, Nelsen will continue to write material about current events, the things he sees on a day-to-day basis being a single guy living with two couples, or the things he has experienced through out his life.