Meanwhile, producers already have begun scouting potential stand-up contestants for Last Comic Standing 9 in 2015 — they looked at dozens of comedians last week in Los Angeles, last night in Boston (Laugh Boston) and Nashville (Zanies Nashville), and tonight they’re doing the same in New York City (Gotham Comedy Club) and Chicago (Zanies Chicago).
Last Comic remains invitation-only — no open calls at any of these cities — but the show’s producers literally are casting a much wider net this time around. And much earlier.
Which begs speculation that NBC might want Last Comic to be ready for midseason in case any of its planned primetime programming craters; if not, it’ll return in summer 2015. Either way, they’re seeing several hundred comedians over the next two weeks, with stops planned in Minneapolis (Sept. 24, Acme Comedy Company), Washington D.C., (Sept. 27, DC Improv), Atlanta (Sept. 28, The Punchline), Seattle (Sept. 28, Parlor Live Seattle), Denver (Sept. 30, ComedyWorks), Ft. Lauderdale (Oct. 1, Ft. Lauderdale Improv), Omaha (Oct. 1, Omaha Funny Bone) and Austin (Oct. 5, Cap City Comedy Club).
If you haven’t been pre-selected for an audition in any of these cities, then you still can submit your own name along with a short video clip of your stand-up and your contact information — as NBC’s own casting site suggests — to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Comic’s Comic caught up last month with two of this season’s Last Comic judges — Russell Peters and Keenen Ivory Wayans — to size up the season just passed and offer up advice to potential contestants for 2015.
First off, Peters and Wayans put themselves in the contestants’ shoes.
“I think I would’ve failed miserably,” Peters said, imagining himself as a contestant. “In all honesty, I mean, maybe in the early stages of my career, I might’ve had that zeal that you need to move forward but I’ve often been a wordy guy who may take a little bit more time then I need to get to the punchline, as you can tell by the answer I’m giving you right now.”
Wayans wasn’t so sure of his success, either, but knew he’d fight for his spot in the contest. “Yes, I think I would’ve been a warrior. I don’t know how I would’ve done but I would’ve been a warrior,” he said.
When you make it to the Top 100 and perform in front of Wayans, Peters and Roseanne (presuming all three return as judges in 2015), Wayans said he doesn’t even feel like a judge, per se.
“I feel like – when I’m watching them, I’m not really putting their thinking this person is good or bad,” he said. “I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Oh man, this guy needs to hold the mic closer to his face, or that joke would’ve worked better if he had done this, that, or the other.’ So, the way comics work, you know, in the club is if Russell where to go on and I were at the back of the room, I’d be watching Russell not from the standpoint of judging him but, oh I got to give him this note. Oh, he forgot to do this. I’m vicariously performing, you know. And, you get a lot great tips from fellow comedians because when you come off stage, they will give you those notes. And so, that’s kind of the mindset that I have when I’m watching the show. I’m not really judging them, I’m performing vicariously.”
We could see throughout the series, little snippets of your deliberations from week to week and I’m curious to know how, as we got to the finale, how much you balanced how a comedian can fit into the mold of a sitcom star because of the network development deal versus just plain who’s the flat-out funniest each night?
Russell Peters: “Well the thing is we had to consider that, but it wasn’t just that they were getting a sitcom deal, they were getting a development deal too. It might have been a sketch comedy show. You know, it could have been Roseanne, or it could have been In Living Color. Who knows what they wanted to do? So, we couldn’t look at it just from that aspect of will they make a good sitcom. We have to look at it as are they be presentable? Will they be consistent? Do they have enough point of view to create a vehicle for themselves. I think Keenan can answer this better because he’s more in that world.”
Keenan Ivory Wayans: “Yes, but I think Russell’s right. We consider their point of view but it always came down to who was funny. You know, funny came first and then it was, if it was a tie between two people we would say well who do you think really has another five minutes. Who do we think really, you know, if they won this competition could have a show built around them. So, then we’d have those discussions but it always was funny first.”
So what advice do you have for comedians auditioning now for next season?
Wayans: “I mean, now that the show is on the air, I think there’s – next crop will kind of get that you have to put your best foot forward. Don’t try to save it. The key is to win. So, you know, you go out there with guns blazing and if you make it, now you start to get strategic. You know what I mean? All right guys, a lot of guys who should have moved forward didn’t because they held back.”
Would you agree with that Russell?
Peters: “Oh, absolutely. I mean, and I understood their plan of attack but, you know, a lot of the veteran guys that came into the very first episode but never moves forward, the problem is — things like boxing to me. If you can’t teach at 12-round fighter, you can’t tell a 12-round fighter to fight one round. We don’t know how to do that. We only know how to extend it out. So, it’s easier for the younger guys with the little, maybe a few years less on them to make those changes. But, when you’re a full-fledged headliner and you travel around the country or the world and you’ve got a certain set way of doing your stuff, it’s a tough edit for you.”
Wayans: “Right. You don’t know how to do five minutes.”
Peters: “Yes, you genuinely don’t know how to do five minutes.”
Wayans: “You know how to do five minutes when you first start, because that’s all you got. So, it’s true. It’s hard once you have an hour, it’s hard to do five minutes.”
So, comedians. Get your best five minutes together to audition. And then have plenty of other five-minute chunks ready and available to go if you go forward.
And good luck!