SCOTT HANSEN BIOGRAPHY
"Both of my parents loved to laugh and tell jokes. Laughter is in my genes. Comedy is in my blood. After an extensive search of my ancestors...I probably should have a blood transfusion!" • Scott Hansen
“When did you realize you were funny?”
That is the first question that most comedians get from inquisitive fans and media. For Scott Hansen it was at he age of ten. While in the sixth grade Hansen won third prize in a national jingle contest sponsored by Noxzema acne medicine. Scott entered hoping to win the first prize. He wanted to win a 1918 Stutz Bearcat. He was happy with his third place prize, a megaphone and the congratulatory letter that said that he was “Very funny.”
But Scott showed comedic promise before he was born. If you believe the story that Scott’s mother told him about the night he was born you must assume that Scott Hansen was born to be a comedian. Comedy, is in his blood. Scott was born with a silver microphone in his mouth.
Doris Hansen told Scott that on the night he was born that she was sitting comfortably on a sofa watching the television. A slapstick comedian named the “Banana Man” came on the show.
The “Banana Man” had dozens of spring-loaded props (including giant bunches of bananas) that kept jumping out of boxes, his tattered pockets, and just about every object on the stage. With each appearance of fruit the clown-faced vaudevillian was exponentially shocked and surprised. When a giant watermelon or pumpkin would spring from a matchbox sized object he was stunned and then stared directly into the camera and blurted out a giant, vibrato “WOOOW!”
As Doris purports the comedian made her laugh so hard that she thought that she had wet her pant. She was surprised to find out that her water had broken and that the birth of her son had begun.
Scott Hansen. Enter laughing.
Whip this up, Martha Stewart!
Here are the ingredients to the recipe called Scott Hansen.
Scott’s parents were both raised during the Great Depression. From the tragic. Steinbeckian stories that they told him, it wasn’t all that “great.”
Doris was raised in the welfare projects of Milwaukee. The Ciecielski family (changed to Ceel) was made up of an alcoholic, abusive, Polish father, an even more alcoholic and more abusive Polish grandfather, five children and an absolute saint of a mother. Grandma Ceel made Mother Teresa look like Britney Spears.
When Doris was asked about her heritage she said, “ We’re from the Heinz family. We're 57 varieties.” All we really know is that she was 50% Polish. The rest is...Heinz.
The recipe starts with a big, empty ,bowl of world depression. Next we sprinkle in an unemployed, abusive alcoholic father. for good measure stir in some despair and low self-esteem, Now, set the oven at 400 and stick your head in! (Don’t worry, the story gets funnier. They were Polish! They had a wood stove.)
Scott’s grandmother Catherine Clemens was a direct descendant of Mark Twain. That may be the only actual funny blood in his heritage. Doris, his mother was always proud of this branch on the family tree. When Scott told Doris of his intention to be a comic, Doris was very supportive. She also was certain that this was an opportunity to express her long depressed creativity.
When Scott stated interest in becoming a comedian, Doris began submitting comedy material to him. When Scott would visit her he was greeted with copious pages of hand-written jokes on legal pads. Scott read them all. All of it was funny, bright and witty. It was also tasteless and filthy. Where did this pious Catholic mother hide these ideas for so long? The frogs of Calaveras County would turn red.
Scott’s father, Don, was as constant as Old Faithful in providing practical jokes and stunts at family gatherings. Where his humor came from is a mystery to the family. Don's parents were stoic and serious German and Danish stock that never seemed to enjoy anything. His father often shared the stories of the poverty and hard work that was part of his rural upbringing. Maybe fighting the Nazi's brought out his sense of humor.
Most Hansen family meals were started with a round of “Polak” jokes instead of Grace. It was expected of Don to either discharge a firearm on the front porch or display a farm animal in the living room at a family party.
As a result, at Scott’s first day in Catholic school, he was sent home for singing obscene songs. When Sister Kristella asked the students to sing their favorite song, Scott boldly broke into his own interpretation of “Roll Me Over In The Clover”. The song was the signature overture of the ‘50’s, X-rated comedienne Rusty Warren. Don played the LP almost nightly on a Sears Hi-FI unaware of his son’s attention.
Sister Kristella escorted Scott out of the door before he got to “number four”.
Scott was never asked to sing in class again.
Maybe that’s the reason the family had to move so often.
This is called the back-story.
During his childhood, Scott’s family moved several times. The moves came at pivotal ages and with drastic social changes. The first move came after first grade. Scott was a year younger than all the other students (he skipped kindergarten by taking night classes in coloring) In second grade, he would have to make new friends again.
The move was also a culture change. The family moved from suburban Milwaukee to an abandoned farm in the country. It was almost like “Green Acres”. Scott’s father (Don) maintained his job as an executive in Milwaukee and left the entire farm to Scott and his mother (Doris).
As far as new friends, Scott was a virtual outcast. To the rural kids, Scott was a soft, overweight city kid. He had to prove himself to the farm kids. When Scott got good grades he was teachers pet. If he was called on with the right answer he was called a “brown nose”. Scott was a target. He defended himself the only way he could. He used his sense of humor. He found out that by making the joke on him first, it took the power away from others. It also gave him an excellent opening for his acerbic, grade school barbs.
So why is Scott on stage?
Scott may never admit this, but he may have had a deep seeded notion that this was his chance. Maybe after years of defending himself from the jabs of others with his sense of humor, just maybe, it was his turn to make people laugh.... on HIS terms.
Between the 7th and 9th grades the family moved three more times. The last move put Scott in the suburban Twin Cities and returning to a Catholic school (Grace (now Totino Grace) in Fridley. This time the adjustment was from a farm boy to a city kid. The moves and adjustments were loading the comedy revolver.
In high school Scott was a solitary kid. Luckily teachers let him vent his creative humor through satirical term papers and cracking wise with an informed edge in many classes. Scott had always been able to retort humorously to many of his life situations. But now, with a green light from some very hip superiors, Scott was revving his engine.
When one of Scott’s fellow students protested that the teacher would always let Scott “smart off”, the social studies teacher responded by saying, “the key is I let Scott smart, off. Then added, “ It’s one thing for a student to make a stupid, funny comment. It’s another thing to make a stupid, funny comment that is accurate.”
The same teacher asked Scott to write an editorial for the school paper. It quickly became his early forum for written comedy. Scott was not a class clown but became the class wit. His column became a copious source of ‘70’s ideals: Love, peace, prom dates and botulism. Comedy came easily to him and it seemed to ease the pressures of teenage problems.
At 16, Scott was accepted to the University of Minnesota. He entered the school as a journalism major. Scott also got involved in the theater program at the U of M. A gaggle of acting classes, plays and writing classes became entwined with his acceptance at Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop.
This stirred the comedy duck soup as Scott got his first taste of a live comedy audience. Scott changed his major to Theater (it was Accounting for three weeks) and he took every acting class he could sign up for.
School never provided what Scott really wanted. He soon dropped out to seek an outlet.
There were still no dreams of fame or Hollywood. Scott just had a desire to make people laugh ... at his own ideas.
In the beginning.
On a date that was never marked on any calendar, Scott Hansen nervously stepped onto the stage of a shabby, whole-in-the-wall bar in Minneapolis named Mickey Finns. It was his first time on a comedy stage. His fears outnumbered his expectations. Scott had cast aside his “serious” actor training in the dramatic classics and children’s theatre. He was now standing alone on a makeshift stage of carpeted plywood supported by steel milk crates and empty beer cases. The “club” was thrown together in the back room of a blue-collar bar in “Nordeast” Minneapolis. A stand-up comedy christening deserves no better of a venue.
A comedy virgin, Scott’s main concern was to remember his often rehearsed and rewritten 15-minute comedy routine. Success, on this first attempt, was to simply finish. Evacuate then evaluate. Hit and run. Do a little damage...then get off stage. The light procured from a hardware store barely set the comic apart from the clanking, chattering crowd of a few dozen. The bodies were so close. Their faces ranged from anticipation to apathy. The passing of a waitress challenged their attention span like a shiny lure to a game fish.
The goals of this mission were very simple:
1. Get on stage.
2. Remember the jokes.
3. Get laughs.
Just get on stage!
Scott had failed his high school and college speech classes because of a horrible fear of public speaking. Acting seemed easier. The lines could be memorized. They were someone else’s words and thoughts. That enabled him to hide behind the character he was playing. In a speech, or in his comedy, there seemed vulnerability as open as a black hole. In order to ease his apprehension, Scott micro scribed his jokes on tiny note cards the he tucked into the pockets of his shirt and pants. They were disguised as a prop, a raffle ticket.
“Any Catholics out there? Want to buy some raffle tickets?”
Scott got on that makeshift stage at Mickey Finns. He remembered the jokes. He got a few laughs. He ran off of the stage. And, he got hooked.
Dad, I just quit my day job!
So, when the stand-up comedy industry was an embryo in America, Scott jumped at the opportunity to write, produce, direct, present and develop the ideas that had been making his friends (and enemies) laugh since he was a toddler.
As much as he despised the scrutinizing public eye, Scott knew of no other forum that could allow him to be totally free and enabling to his comic creativity. Scott had to give it a try.
Now, after winning five Minnesota Comedian of the Year Awards and writing and producing for nearly every comedy network and comedian in the country, things still haven’t changed.
For Scott, it isn’t the pie in the sky; it’s the pie in the face.
It’s the laughs. It’s all about the laughs.