MARSHALL - Minneapolis-based comedian Tim Harmston got his big break this year by appearing on the late night show of a man he emulated while growing up.
Harmston, who made his debut on "The Late Show With David Letterman" this summer, will be the featured comedian in a comedy show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Landmark Mercantile. Also performing will be Mike Brody and Rox Tarrant.
Harmston, who grew up in Menomonie, Wis., said he came from a funny family.
"My dad and uncle were extremely funny people," Harmston said.
Whenever either family member would tell a joke, Harmston said, he'd try to come up with a funnier joke.
"We'd sit around the campfire and tell jokes," he said. "That's what we'd do as a family."
Harmston said he also grew up watching Letterman and Johnny Carson. Then he started making his own videos and sketches.
He went onto college for filmmaking and spent 15 years doing set design.
"That didn't fulfill my need for humor," he said.
In 2002, Harmston started doing comedy at the Mall of America. He was already 30 years old.
"When you do comedy, it takes a long time to make a living at it," he said. He was doing freelance set design work, and no matter where he was working, Harmston would hit an open mic.
Although quite a few tend to start their comedy career while in college, Harmston said he had a whole decade to write about for his material.
"Starting at 30 didn't really hurt me as much," Harmston said.
2011 has been a good year for Harmston as he made his debut on Letterman in July.
"That was a real thrill," he said. From that appearance, he said, he's been able to book a couple of theaters and his name has been put out in front of a lot of club owners. "I've been able to use that experience as a confidence builder."
As for his routine, Harmston said it varies heavily.
"I've never been a comedian who focuses on a singular theme, I'm proud of that," he said. Harmston said his routine can be on anything from sports to politics to growing up in the Midwest to "everyday absurdities."
"I make sure people see something they haven't seen before," Harmston said.
And he appreciates Midwest audiences, whom he calls "passive-aggressive."
"They're kind enough to hear what you're doing," he said, even if they don't like the humor.
Harmston travels all over the country doing comedy from Los Angeles to Miami to New York, but he is mainly based in the Minneapolis area.
"It's a great comedy scene, you can get on stage all the time," he said of Minneapolis.