There hasn’t been much of an outcry really about NBC’s decision to eliminate ‘off the street’ auditions from new comedians for the revival of the show ‘Last Comic Standing‘. You could say it is because comedians could care less about the show. Many stories have been passed from one comic to the next about how the show was rigged including some higher up the chain with the franchise. Even more so, Last Comic Standing no longer draws big crowds for the promoters booking comics with it as a credit. I mean, it’s been years. To read more about the announcement that LCS will not have general public auditions check out this article on Laughspin.com
One of my first ‘attempts’ to move forward in stand-up was in March 2008 at the Nashville Zanies auditions of Last Comic Standing. Myself, Nick Shaheen, Zach Boylston, John McQueen, Marc Rice and Mike Schiele completed our three date ‘Crackers of Comedy Tour‘ by driving from Asheville to Nashville to sleep on the sidewalk and await our chance for ‘fame’. We didn’t arrive until the middle of the night and there was already a line stretching down the block. We met up with Timmy Sherrill (Now my partner in the Cape Fear Comedy Festival) who had driven in for the event and I also met Michael Malone for the first time on this night. After all the waiting and freezing and sleeping on the sidewalk we finally got our chance to perform 30 seconds to a production assistant in an EZ-Up tent shoulder to shoulder with 9 other comics. Then, it was over. We could wait around all day to see if we got a ‘call back’, but most of you know how this story ends. None of us even watched the season to see if we were in it as they ran the camera down the line for b-roll footage. We had been ‘had’. We were young, dumb and full of delusions, so in the end, it was probably a good thing.
How Last Comic Standing returning could be good for comedy
It is safe to say live comedy got a bump from Last Comic Standing the last time it’s ratings were high. Clubs were able to book comedians that were drawing crowds because they had recently been featured on network television. Comedy coming back into relevance means stand-up as an entertainment option is becoming more desirable to the general public. Executives have determined that stand-up is once again viable and marketable or they wouldn’t have endorsed the idea of reviving the show.
Some may argue that the return of Last Comic Standing is bad because more people will just sit at home and watch stand-up comedy for free instead of going out to see live comedy. These are likely the same folks that believe Comedy Central and YouTube have had negative impacts on their comedy business (as amazing as this sounds, I have heard it over and over again from people in the business). It is true that a certain amount of people will never come see a stand-up comedy show but may watch every episode of the new season. These folks are probably never going to come out to see live comedy. They will, however, download comedy specials and maybe even pay for them. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of people who see the show will likely never directly contribute a single penny to stand-up comedy as a whole. They will, however, talk about it with others when the subject of live comedy comes up. They may even share with friends that a favorite comic is coming to their city to perform. This fandom results in dollars in the end for that comic. These passive comedy fans are part of the engine that drives word of mouth. Others will be turned on to stand-up from the show being on tv. More and more people are dropping cable and going with services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant video to replace traditional cable. They are able to tune-in network channels for free with a digital receiver, so if they DO want to watch NBC, CBS or ABC, they can, and do. These folks are out seeking quality entertainment, and when they find it, they are loyal to it. You know this because of how many times you have heard about how great ‘Modern Family‘ or ‘Parks and Recreation‘ are from your friends/co-workers. So in the end while most won’t ever come see live comedy as a result of the revival, it’s still overwhelmingly a good thing for stand-up.
There are plenty of us that are not going to get the chance to be on the new season of Last Comic Standing, but you can be certain that some of our good friends will be featured on the show which ultimately will help the draw at comedy shows wherever they perform.