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Published on December 31st, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Last Comic Standing: NBC knows it’s funnier than…

NBC, known for making spectacular primetime comedy decisions this season, is rumored to be bringing back the standup comedy reality competition show Last Comic Standing.

Entertainment Weekly’s Hollywood Insider blog says NBC “is looking to re-launch the franchise with a new host (so long, Bill Bellamy!) and some format changes so it can air as part of the network’s summer lineup”.

I have a bit of a love-hate with Last Comic Standing. The good: it gives great exposure to good, hard-working standups who deserve the credit in their bio. The bad: it’s cast with heavy hand, and gives exposure to actors and open micers who don’t deserve the credit and serve only to create a circus sideshow.

I adored much of the first and second seasons, and the third gets a pass (I still think Dave Mordal and Rich Vos in the bathtub together is the finest moment of primetime programming we’ve seen on NBC in the past decade). But it’s still hard to forgive them for some of their editing choices, particularly in the early audition rounds. And how did they manage to make Kathleen Madigan look like a soccer mom for a whole season? It progressed into something more and more cringe-inducing as the seasons went by.

I will pass along this tip to the young comics out there: do not stand in line for this thinking you have a chance at being a star. Seriously. Almost all of the comics in the top 30 got their initial audition spots through their representation (aka a “scheduled audition”). If you stand in line, you’ll be an unpaid extra for NBC’s high-speed shot of the lineup outside the Chuckle Hut in Anytown, USA. If you can think of putting yourself in a high-pressure audition situation as a valuable learning experience, then do it. Otherwise, just grab some tickets to the evening semifinals and do a mental compare/contrast between what you see with your eyes, and how it turns out on tv.

Overall, the show is a little gross, but some good comes of it. Personally? At this point, I can only bear to watch if I have someone to cheer for. Buck Star will suffice.

About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com