Hans-Joachim Heist became a household name through the satirical "heute-show" on ZDF, in which he plays Gernot Hassknecht, a hot-tempered, politically incorrect TV news anchor. The character quickly became so successful that Heist embarked on a stage tour entitled "Das Hassknecht Prinzip - in zwölf Schritten zum Choleriker" from September 2013 to June 2016, playing no fewer than 290 shows to a total audience of over 90,000 people.
Heist was born and raised in Hesse and initially trained as a heating installer, before later studying acting at the Genzmer Drama School in Wiesbaden. Important theatre engagements took him to Marburg, Darmstadt, Frankfurt am Main, Krefeld- Mönchengladbach, Zurich, Mannheim, the open-air theater Schwäbisch Hall and the castle festival in Bad Vilbel. In addition, Heist worked as a director at the Oststadt-Theater in Mannheim. His touring repertoire includes plays such as Patrick Süskind's one-man play "Der Kontrabass,"Die Sternstunde des Josef Bieder" by Eberhard Streul and Otto Schenk, and the solo performance piece "Allein in der Sauna". He has celebrated further successes with his comedy programme "Noch'n Highlight" as well as with the legendary Freddy Frinton sketch "Dinner For One", for which he was awarded the 1999 Trade Media Prize in the comedy category. As a team member of the "heute show", he has received the Adolf Grimme Award, two German Television Awards, six German Comedy Awards, the Bambi, the Golden Henne and the Goldene Kamera, amongst others. Heist has been an ambassador for the Germany Kidney Foundation since 2012 and has also been one of its board members since August 2017. In 2015, he received the honorary "Ehrenbrief" from the State of Hesse for his voluntary work.
During the 2022/23 season, he graces the Wiesbaden stage as Chancellor Njegus in the new production of "Die lustige Witwe".