As I was live-blogging last night’s final installment of “The Invitational” rounds for the Top 100 on season 8 of Last Comic Standing, the math kept nagging at me. I mean, I knew after the two-hour premiere a couple of weeks ago, when they showed 31 comedians, that it’d take so many more weeks to even show partial stand-up sets from each and every one of the Top 100.
Which they didn’t do.
I tried to make sense of it all, including the peculiar production packages that are being shown online and not on TV, and how that might give you an impression that this season could have — and probably even should have — gone in different directions. You can read my late-morning quarterbacking and handicapping analysis of Last Comic Standing on Previously.TV with today’s installment, “The Semi-Final Countdown.”
One of my friends who made the Top 100 this season, and yet only for a frame or two a couple of times if you hit pause on your DVRs and TiVos to catch it, was Erin Judge.
Judge offers her own take on experiencing Last Comic Standing for the first time, in her own words.
This essay is republished with her permission.
last comic not pictured
I’m now at liberty to say that, while I was one of the Top 100 comedians selected to compete in the 2014 Last Comic Standing invitational round, I did not move onto the semifinals. Ultimately, we found out last night that I also didn’t appear on the show. That’s what I had expected, but I didn’t know for sure, and I was not free to speak about it until the invitationals finished airing.My friend Andrea found a promo video on the LCS YouTube page in April. It’s since been removed from their active list, presumably after the show was edited. Below is a screenshot.I have to say, LCS 8 was a fantastic experience for me. I got to travel to California twice, escaping this particularly ruthless upstate New York winter. I enjoyed working with every single person on the production team, from the talent and travel coordinators to the wardrobe people to hair and make-up to the directors to the PAs. Page Hurwitz knew all 100 of us by name. The producers gave us pep talks and expressed gratitude. I met comics from around the country, and we spent five extremely wacky hours chilling together with a bunch of cameras in the green room.And I had a great set out there. Every joke hit, I got an unexpected applause break in the middle, and the judges had really nice things to say to me. Roseanne laughed at our banter and told me to move to Los Angeles. After my set, JB Smoove yelled “Give it up for Brooklyn! Brooklyn!” and pointed at me, so I finally got to feel like a hip hop star. (How come nobody says “Give it up for Brooklyn!” when they introduce Barbara Streisand? That’s a missed opportunity.)
It’s tough to say why I didn’t appear on the show. After over a decade in stand-up, I of course have tight 5 minute sets filled with personal details and tight 5 minute sets filled with silly observations. For LCS, I chose to go with the real deep shit, and maybe it was just too hard to find 20 seconds of quick-punch jokes that the editors could pull out of the context of the rest of the set. I’ll never know.Yes, I got to stand next to my name in big lights. No, I couldn’t hear the judges laughing (they didn’t amplify their mics until they started talking to us). Yes, I chanted “Kronberg!” in the Green Room (#gofuckyourselfben). And yes, I would do it again, at least with these producers at the helm. It was fun.
And now that I’ve seen the episodes, it’s clear to me that the show is doing an unprecedented job of showcasing stand-up. There’s a greater diversity, not just racially or of gender or sexual orientation, but of comedic styles, ages, and geography. I’m totally thrilled to see women who’ve been doing stand-up for more than 10 or 15 years getting serious air time on network TV. Too often, competition shows feature very young women who have a lot of potential but are essentially comedy fetuses alongside men who have been doing stand-up five times as long. That’s not happening here.
It would’ve been nice to be on the show. Unlike a whole lot of comics, I’ve never auditioned or put my name forward for Last Comic Standing before this. I’m an odd blend of very bold and way too timid when it comes to putting myself out there for certain opportunities.
But I’m not disappointed. I’ve heard so many rough stories, of people getting bumped from Letterman and never rescheduled, or comics booking their first TV appearance only to have the show “phase out” stand-up right before their taping. It’s showbiz. Shit like that happens all the time, and you learn not to pour too much anticipation into any one thing.
I’m most proud of the fact that I got this far without a manager or agent advocating for me behind the scenes. The producer who reached out said she found me on a Keith and the Girl network podcast. (Thanks Chemda and/orMyq!) And this fall, I’m moving to Los Angeles. My husband and I are packing up, driving across the northern US, and landing in LA after Labor Day. Because, love her or hate her, when Roseanne gives you a specific instruction, you feel pretty compelled to follow through.
I’m sure Kronberg has fucked himself at least once since she told him to.
Post-script: Erin Judge did appear on your TVs again last night, if even for just another couple of frames amid the dozens of comedians who flashed before our eyes to preview that night’s action.