Last Comic Standing

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Last Comic Standing
Last comic standing intro.jpg
Genre Talent show
Presented by
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 76
Production
Executive producer(s)
Camera setup Multiple
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s)
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format
Original run June 1, 2003 – August 9, 2010
May 22, 2014 (2014-05-22) – present

Last Comic Standing is an American reality television talent show on NBC that aired from 2003 to 2010, then again in 2014.[3] The goal of the program is to select a comedian from an initially large group of hopefuls. For the first seven seasons, the winner received a cash prize and a television special; for season 8 in 2014, the winner won a cash prize, a development contract with NBC, and a half-hour scripted project that will be developed by Universal Television.[1]

NBC has picked up Last Comic Standing for a ninth season.[4]

Format[edit]

The show has varied its format season by season. For seasons 1-2 and 4-7, NBC talent scouts Ross Mark and Bob Read held open casting calls in various locations around the United States. At each casting call, Mark and Read identified comics to participate in callback auditions in front of live audiences. Mark and Read then selected a predetermined number of comics from each callback, who were invited to participate in a semifinal qualifying round.

The comics who advanced to the semifinal qualifying round were divided into two groups. In Season Four, 40 comics were divided into two groups of 20; these comics performed and competed against each other at the Alex Theater in Los Angeles. During the semifinal qualifying rounds, a panel of celebrity judges, and the show's producers, selected the comics who would move forward to the final qualifying round. This determined who among the comics would be "in the house." While this was usually a regular house, in season four, the comics were chosen to live aboard RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

Once "in the house," the comics participate in some type of comedic challenge each television week. Challenges have included performing stand-up at a local laundromat, working as a tour guide in Los Angeles, participating in a roast at the Friars Club of Beverly Hills and performing comedy on a specific subject with little preparation time on a radio show. The winner of each challenge is usually rewarded with immunity from being eliminated from the competition for that week, while the remaining comics are vulnerable to elimination through a "head-to-head" standup challenge.

As the conclusion of each television week drew near, each comic selected one other comic whom they believed they could defeat in a head-to-head challenge. The comics were sent off individually to a secluded booth, and named the person selected using the phrase "I know I'm funnier than _____." The comic who received the most nominations participated in that evening's head-to-head competition, and selected their opponent from any of the comics who had challenged them.

The head-to-head competition occurs in front of a live studio audience. For the first seven seasons, the studio audience voted electronically for their preferred performer, while in the eighth season the judges always selected the winner. The winning comic remains "in the house", while the losing comic is eliminated from the competition.

For the first seven seasons, when only five comics remained, the format changed again. All remaining comics performed for a large theatre audience as before, but now the decision-making power shifted from the studio audience to the television audience. Viewers cast their votes for their favorite comic by phoning a specific number, by voting online at the network's website, or both. Unlike some other "audience-vote reality" programs, the producers imposed a maximum number of eligible votes per originating phone number and email address. The comic who received the lowest number of votes each week was eliminated from the competition, until there was only the "Last Comic Standing".

The "in the house" concept was dropped for season 7, and each week consisted of all remaining comics performing in front of a theater audience and being voted on by the television viewers to determine who leaves and who remains. It was essentially identical to the "final five" format used previously.

The 3rd season was also unique in that it pitted the contestants of the first two seasons against one another.

Seasons[edit]

Season 1 (2003)[edit]

Season one aired in the summer of 2003 and was hosted by Jay Mohr. The winner of the audience-participation final vote in season one was Dat Phan, with 35% of the vote. Other finalists included Ralphie May (28%), Rich Vos (18%), Cory Kahaney (12%), and Tess (7%). Contestants "in the house" who did not make the final five were Geoff Brown, Tere Joyce, Sean Kent, Dave Mordal, and Rob Cantrell.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head-to-head Public Elimination
Ep 4 Ep 5 Ep 6 Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 10 Ep 11
Dat Phan IN IN SAFE WIN WIN IN LCS
Ralphie May IN IN WIN IN IN IN OUT
Rich Vos IN IN IN IN IN OUT
Cory Kahaney IN WIN IN SAFE IN OUT
Tess SAFE SAFE IN IN IN OUT
Geoff Brown IN IN IN IN OUT
Dave Mordal WIN IN IN IN OUT
Rob Cantrell IN IN OUT
Tere Joyce IN OUT
Sean Kent OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won the immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     OUT means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown or viewer vote, and was eliminated

Season 2 (2004)[edit]

Season two aired in the summer of 2004, hosted by Jay Mohr. The winner was John Heffron. Alonzo Bodden was the first runner-up, while third place went to Gary Gulman. The other finalists were Ant, Tammy Pescatelli, Bonnie McFarlane, Jay London, Kathleen Madigan, Todd Glass, Chris Voth, and Corey Holcomb.

Buck Star, who became infamous for appearing at every LCS audition, first appeared in season two. After being repeatedly rejected by talent scouts Mark and Read, Mark finally acquiesced and allowed Buck to perform in the callback auditions in Tampa (the final audition site of the season). Buck failed to impress the live audience, however, and did not advance further in the competition.

After five head-to-head eliminations, a wildcard competition was set up among the five eliminated comics the top voter-getting returning to the competition. Jay London won this competition, but was ultimately eliminated again in the next vote.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head-to-head Wild Card Public Elimination
Ep 5 Ep 6 Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 11 Ep 13 Ep 15
John Heffron WIN IN IN IN WIN IN IN LCS
Alonzo Bodden IN IN SAFE IN WIN IN IN OUT
Gary Gulman IN IN WIN WIN IN IN IN OUT
Jay London IN IN IN OUT WIN OUT
Kathleen Madigan IN IN IN SAFE IN IN OUT
Tammy Pescatelli IN WIN IN IN SAFE IN OUT
Corey Holcomb SAFE IN IN IN OUT OUT
Ant IN SAFE OUT OUT
Todd Glass IN OUT OUT
Bonnie McFarlane OUT OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won the immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     WIN means the comic won the wildcard and returned to the show
     OUT means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown or viewer vote, and was eliminated
     OUT means the comic competed for the wildcard and lost

Season 3 (2004)[edit]

While Last Comic Standing Season Two was airing, NBC agreed to produce a third season, which would air during the fall of 2004. Season three, dubbed the "Battle of the Best", consisted of a competition between the final ten comedians from seasons one and two. The grand prize awarded this season was a flat $250,000 (unlike previous seasons' prizes, which included a talent contract and a television special). Alonzo Bodden, the runner-up from Season 2, was the winner and Dave Mordal, the seventh place man from Season 1, was the runner-up. The third placemen were John Heffron, the Season 2 winner and Rich Vos, the third place man from Season 1 and Bonnie McFarlane's husband. Season 2's first-eliminated Bonnie McFarlane chose not to participate in this season for unspecified reasons. She was replaced by a finalists judge competition of four comics who made it to the Hawaii round; the winner of that competition was Jessica Kirson, who was eliminated first from season 2. Celebrities appearing in the season were Jeffrey Ross, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Louie Anderson and Carrot Top. Episodes would be shown as 1 hour and the finale was a half-hour long.

Elimination Chart
Comics Ep 2 Ep 3 Ep 4 Ep 5 Ep 6 Ep 7 Finale
Alonzo Bodden WIN WIN WIN LCS
Dave Mordal IN IN IN OUT
John Heffron WIN WIN WIN OUT
Rich Vos IN IN IN OUT
Gary Gulman WIN WIN OUT
Tess IN IN OUT
Todd Glass WIN WIN OUT
Geoff Brown IN IN OUT
Jay London WIN WIN OUT
Ralphie May IN IN OUT
Kathleen Madigan WIN WIN OUT
Dat Phan IN IN OUT
Ant WIN OUT
Sean Kent IN OUT
Tammy Pescatelli WIN OUT
Rob Cantrell IN OUT
Corey Holcomb OUT
Tere Joyce OUT
Jessica Kirson OUT
Cory Kahaney OUT
     Season 1 comic
     Season 2 comic
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     OUT means the comic was the runner-up
     WIN means the comic's team won the $50,000 viewer vote and the comic moved on in the competition
     IN means the comic's team lost the $50,000 viewer vote and the comic moved on in the competition
     OUT means the comic's team won the $50,000 viewer vote, but the comic was eliminated
     OUT means the comic's team lost the $50,000 viewer vote and the comic was eliminated.

Cancellation[edit]

Due to lackluster ratings in the third season (falling as low as 74th in the primetime Nielsen ratings), NBC canceled the show before the last episode aired; it aired on Comedy Central instead.

Season 4 (2006)[edit]

Main article: Last Comic Standing 4

On May 30, 2006, the show returned to NBC with a two-hour special and a new host, Anthony Clark.

Nielsen ratings from Season 4 averaged a 4.4 share (4,848,800 households).

Josh Blue, a St. Paul, Minnesota, native who has cerebral palsy, was the Last Comic Standing on the August 9, 2006, conclusion of the contest. Ty Barnett was the runner-up, while third place went to Chris Porter. Other finalists were (in order of placement) Michele Balan, Roz, Kristin Key, Rebecca Corry, Gabriel Iglesias, Joey Gay, Bil Dwyer, April Macie, and Stella Stolper. Additionally, Theo Von won the separate online contest to be the Last Comic Downloaded. Iglesias was disqualified for multiple violations of his contract including using a BlackBerry and became the first in the history of the show to be thrown out of the competition.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head-to-head Public elimination
Ep 5 Ep 6 Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 10 Ep 11
Josh Blue IN IN IN IN IN IN LCS
Ty Barnett IN IN WIN IN IN IN OUT
Chris Porter SAFE WIN IN IN LOW OUT
Michele Balan WIN WIN IN LOW OUT
Roz SAFE IN IN OUT
Rebecca Corry IN SAFE OUT
Kristin Key IN IN OUT
Gabriel Iglesias IN IN DQ
Joey Gay IN OUT
Bil Dwyer IN OUT
April Macie OUT
Stella Stolper OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won the immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     LOW means the comic was shown as receiving the second-lowest viewer vote total
     OUT means the comic lost in a head-to-head showdown or viewer vote, and was eliminated
     DQ means the comic was disqualified for breaking the show's rules

Season 5 (2007)[edit]

Main article: Last Comic Standing 5

Last Comic Standing returned for a fifth season in the summer of 2007. Comedian Bill Bellamy hosted the show. The winner got $250,000 along with an NBC Universal contract and a Bravo special. Unlike previous versions, this season featured comics from around the world competing alongside Americans. Auditions were held in London, Montreal, Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Tempe.[5] The fifth season began June 13.[6] This series premiered on British music channel TMF on July 4, 2007.

The final ten comics were Lavell Crawford, Jon Reep, Gerry Dee, Amy Schumer, Ralph Harris, Doug Benson, Matt Kirshen, Debra DiGiovanni, Dante, and Gina Yashere.

The season finale aired on September 19, 2007 in which Jon Reep was revealed as the winner. Lavell Crawford was the season 5 runner-up.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head-to-head Public elimination
Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 10 Ep 11 Ep 12 Ep 13
Jon Reep IN SAFE IN IN IN IN LCS
Lavell Crawford SAFE IN IN IN IN IN OUT
Gerry Dee IN IN IN IN IN OUT
Amy Schumer IN IN SAFE IN OUT
Ralph Harris WIN IN WIN OUT
Doug Benson IN IN OUT
Matt Kirshen IN WIN OUT
Debra DiGiovanni IN OUT
Dante OUT
Gina Yashere OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won the immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     OUT means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown or viewer vote, and was eliminated

Season 6 (2008)[edit]

Main article: Last Comic Standing 6

Bill Bellamy once again hosted. British television host Fearne Cotton joined him as co-host.

Season 6 semi-final rounds were held and filmed in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel & Casino. The season finale also aired from Las Vegas. The season premiered on May 22, 2008, and was being shown in Britain on Paramount Comedy.

The season finale aired on August 7, 2008 during which Iliza Shlesinger was revealed as the winner, the first and only female to win the title. Marcus was the season 6 runner-up.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head-to-head Public Elimination
Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 10 Ep 11 Ep 12
Iliza Shlesinger WIN WIN IN IN LCS
Marcus IN IN SAFE IN OUT
Jeff Dye IN SAFE IN IN OUT
Jim Tavare SAFE IN IN IN OUT
Louis Ramey IN IN IN IN OUT
Sean Cullen IN IN IN OUT
Ron G. IN IN IN OUT
Adam Hunter IN IN IN OUT
Papa CJ IN OUT
Paul Foot IN OUT
Esther Ku OUT
God's Pottery OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won the immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     OUT means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown or viewer vote, and was eliminated

Season 7 (2010)[edit]

The seventh season premiered on June 7, 2010, hosted by Craig Robinson. The show was again reworked following a format similar to the one used for Season 3, without a House or Challenges, with voting beginning right after the Semi-Finals. The judges for season 7 were Greg Giraldo, Natasha Leggero, and Andy Kindler. Comedians that have appeared this season include James Adomian, Jim David, Christina Pazsitzky, Kirk Fox, Jimmy Dore, Guy Torry, Michael J. Herbert, Myq Kaplan, Tiffany Haddish, Cathy Ladman, Jamie Lee, Kurt Metzger, Ryan Hamilton, Brian McKim, Adrienne Iapalucci, Jerry Rocha, Paula Bel, Rachel Feinstein, Jeff Ragsdale, Jesse Joyce, Kyle Grooms, Jonathan Thymius, Felipe Esparza, Shane Mauss, Jason Weems, Amanda Melson, Chip Pope, Claudia Cogan, Nikki Glaser, Taylor Williamson, Alycia Cooper and David Feldman. The winner was Felipe Esparza.

Elimination Chart
Comics Public Elimination
Ep 6 Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 10
Felipe Esparza IN IN IN IN LCS
Tommy Johnagin IN IN IN IN OUT
Roy Wood, Jr. IN IN IN IN OUT
Mike DeStefano IN IN IN IN OUT
Myq Kaplan IN IN IN IN OUT
Jonathan Thymius IN IN IN OUT
Rachel Feinstein IN IN OUT
Maronzio Vance IN OUT
Laurie Kilmartin IN OUT
James Adomian IN OUT
     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     OUT means the comic was eliminated based on viewer votes

Season 8 (2014)[edit]

Season 8 premiered on May 22, 2014, and consisted of 13 episodes.[1] Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters served as the judges with JB Smoove as the host. The winner received $250,000 and an NBC comedy development deal.[1] Eliminated contestants faced off in an online head-to-head competition called the "Comic Comeback", with fans voting via Twitter to bring back a comic to perform on the season finale.

Rather than holding open "live" auditions as in previous seasons, the eighth season started with 100 comedians who were invited by an NBC panel, based on reviews of emailed audition submissions.[7] The first four nights of the season were called "Invitationals" featuring 25 comics, with the winning comics from these rounds advancing to the semifinals.

Night one and night two both aired in a two-hour block on May 22, 2014. The following comics advanced to the semi-finals on night one: Tracey Ashley, Mark Normand, Dave Landau, Aida Rodriguez, Joe Machi, and Rod Man. On night two, comics advancing to the semi-final round included: Dana Eagle, Nick Guerra, Erin Jackson, Mike Vecchione, Jasper Redd, Lachlan Patterson, Tyree Elaine, and Jimmy Shubert. Night three aired on May 29, during which the following comics advanced to the next round of the competition: Chloe Hilliard, Alingon Mitra, Gerald Kelly, Zainab Johnson, DC Benny, Emily Galati, and Rocky LaPorte. Airing on June 5, the fourth night saw the advancement of Karlous Miller, DeAnne Smith, Nikki Carr, Tommy Ryman, Yamaneika Saunders, Mike Gaffney, and Monroe Martin. In all, 28 of the initial 100 comics advanced to the semi-finals.

The semi-finals consisted of two shows of 14 contestants each, with five comics from each episode advancing to the Top Ten. In these rounds, Amy Schumer and executive producer Wanda Sykes appeared in segments where they gave advice to the contestants. Comics advancing through the semi-finals into the Challenge Rounds are shown in the table below.

In the Challenge Rounds, the comics had to participate in a variety of challenges that tested their improvisation, roasting and talk show guest skills. Here, they received advice from comedians Cheryl Hines, Howie Mandel, Jeff Ross, Jay Leno and executive producer Wanda Sykes. Ellen Degeneres hosted the talk show guest challenge on the set of her show, while Gilbert Gottfried was the target for the roast challenge.

After the Challenge Rounds, the remaining comedians competed in the Title Rounds. Here, they would perform a set for the judges, who would then eliminate whoever they felt had the weakest performance. They narrowed down the contestants until they decided on the winner. The finale also included performances by judges Roseanne Barr, Russell Peters, and the winner of the online Comic Comeback poll.

Starting with this season, the public did not vote for the Last Comic Standing at any time. The judges decided every elimination, and the final winner. This was done because Sykes decided that the judges would make a better decision than the potential voting public.[8]

The eighth season winner was Rod Man. He beat out Nikki Carr and Lachlan Patterson in what turned out to be a double-elimination final set. The judges were supposed to narrow the field down to two contestants following the first sets of the two-hour finale, but could not agree on a weakest performance. Therefore, all three finalists performed another set to determine the winner.

Elimination Chart
Comics Head to Head Elimination Title Rounds
Ep 7 Ep 8 Ep 9 Ep 10 Ep 11 Ep 12 Ep 13
Rod Man WIN SAFE IN IN IN IN LCS
Nikki Carr SAFE IN IN SAFE IN IN OUT
Lachlan Patterson SAFE WIN SAFE IN IN IN OUT
Joe Machi SAFE IN WIN WIN IN OUT
Rocky LaPorte IN IN IN IN OUT
Karlous Miller SAFE IN IN OUT
Monroe Martin SAFE IN SD
DC Benny IN OUT
Aida Rodriguez OUT
Jimmy Shubert OUT


(1) Joe Machi opposed Monroe Martin in Week 9's head-to-head elimination. Following their sets, the judges remarked that they were "blown away" by the performance of each comic, and could not agree on a winner. They asked each comic to perform two additional minutes, after which they still could not pick a winner. (Judge Russell Peters was heard shouting, "That solved nothing!") The comics were asked to return to the stage one last time and perform one final joke as a sudden-death showdown, after which Machi was announced as the winner.

Following the semi-finals, viewers were asked to vote for the "Comic Comeback", in which a dismissed comic can earn the chance to return and perform a set in the final episode of Season 8. Alingon Mitra beat out the 5 other dismissed contestants to become the "Comic Comeback" winner. He performed a set in the season finale on August 14th.

Season 9 (2015)[edit]

Season 9 will premiere on May 21, 2015.

     LCS means the comic was the last comic standing
     SAFE means the comic won an immunity challenge
     WIN means the comic participated in and won a head-to-head showdown
     OUT means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown or judges' vote, and was eliminated
     SD means the comic lost a head-to-head showdown in a sudden death round (1)

Controversy[edit]

During season two, a panel of four celebrity judges was used to shrink the field of 40 semifinalists to ten finalists. The celebrity judges rated each of the semifinalists as they performed, and cast votes for the 10 top comedians. When the ten finalists were announced they did not seem to correspond with the judges' votes, which the judges noticed. Two celebrity judges, comedians Drew Carey and Brett Butler, left the judges' table visibly angry after the finalists were announced. The two were shown backstage arguing with producers. Carey and Butler did not understand how the finalists who were announced could have advanced, given the way the judges had voted. It was revealed that a panel of four producers were also casting votes in the process, assuring that unless all four celebrity judges cast exactly the same ten votes, their voting power could be usurped by the four unanimously agreeing producers. If for some reason all four celebrity judges did cast exactly the same votes, the worst the producers would be faced with was a tie.[citation needed]

Upon learning of this, Carey became angry that the producers made it seem he had a deciding vote in the outcome of the show, calling the situation "crooked and dishonest."[9] It was also revealed that some of the finalists who advanced were clients or employees of the producers or directors of the show.[10]

According to a March 2004 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Gene Collier, some of the competitors in opening rounds were plants hired by the producers to give bad performances in order to liven up the auditions on television.[11]

Top local agents are usually given a number of specific call times for their clients. The first round of auditions were for a producer early in the morning, and those that were chosen came back for the celebrity judges in the afternoon. Breslin also confirmed that, while only two were shown advancing in the final broadcast, four comics had been initially chosen to advance to the finals.[12] Brian Lazanik, one of the two finalists who did not end up at the Vegas finals, has said that he was also chosen as a finalist in season 5's Toronto auditions, but was similarly cut. Producers for the show called his agent, urging him to try out again for season 6.[13][14]

Appearances by comics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Bibel, Sara (March 20, 2014). "'Last Comic Standing' Season 8 to Premiere Thursday, May 22 on NBC With Judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans & Russell Peters". TV by the Numbers (Press release). Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Goldberg, Lesley (November 13, 2013). "NBC, Wanda Sykes Revive 'Last Comic Standing' for Summer 2014". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ New York Times
  4. ^ http://splitsider.com/2014/07/nbc-renews-last-comic-standing-for-season-9/
  5. ^ "NBC's "Last Comic Standing" Live Tour". North Shore Music Theatre. Retrieved May 15, 2007. 
  6. ^ Zap2it.com
  7. ^ McCarthy, Sean (May 20, 2014). "Meet the Top 100 comedians competing on Season 8 of Last Comic Standing". thecomicscomic.com. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ McCarthy, Sean L. "Wanda Sykes tells Seth Meyers why Last Comic Standing is invitation only now". http://thecomicscomic.com/2014/06/17/wanda-sykes-tells-seth-meyers-why-last-comic-standing-is-invitation-only-now/. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Rogers, Steve (March 8, 2004). "'Last Comic Standing 2' judges cry foul, call Top 10 selection process "crooked and dishonest"". Reality TV World. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Last Comic Standing 2 – NBC". Reality TV Calendar. June 21, 2004. Retrieved August 7, 2008. 
  11. ^ Collier, Gene (March 14, 2004). "'Last Comic Standing' has some funny business". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  12. ^ Canuck comics ready to take on the Yanks
  13. ^ A funny thing happened on the way to the show
  14. ^ Comedian with class, if not the prize. "...four Toronto-based wits – Deb DiGiovanni, Gerry Dee, Brian Lazanik and Dan Licoppe – were selected for the [season 5] semifinals in Los Angeles."

External links[edit]