Charlie Settles decided nine months ago to move from Michigan to Minnesota to further his comedy ambitions.

The trip is already paying off. Settles, a 23-year-old social worker in Mendota Heights, was named Acme's Funniest Person in the Twin Cities, an annual contest for locally based amateurs and a launching pad for professional careers.

Settles nosed out four other finalists with a deadpan delivery in which he poked fun of his non-athletic stature. He explained that he had dropped out of his high-school football team to join the marching band because the band incorporated his two favorite things: "synchronized walking and not playing football."

Veteran comics in the audience marveled at his cool-as-a-cucumber stage presence and willingness to gamble on long pauses in a three-minute routine.

After the performance, Settles said that Minneapolis was the perfect "middle city" to spend time in before heading to LA, Chicago or New York.

"I had heard a lot of good things about the comedy scene here," he said after collecting his $1,000 check for winning. "I've already learned a lot."