Lost Comic Scouting

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

I’ve been more than a little frustrated at times with “Last Comic Standing”, in part because it’s, naturally, a reality show and not a stand-up feature. On their site promoting upcoming auditions, you can see that they’re switching up the judges a bit from last year’s trio of Alonzo Bodden, Kathleen Madigan and Ant. And their choices both give me hope and, at the same time, suggest more of the same.

Today’s auditions in Los Angeles were apparently judged by “Office” regulars Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nuñez. Both of them great performers, adding a real rich texture to that sitcom. They’re consistently funny people. The only bad thing: they’re not stand-ups. They come from an improv background, working with the Los Angeles based Groundlings. Perhaps there’s unmentioned experience in their backgrounds, but it’s an odd choice. I know there’s a strong NBC connection, which makes it a natural business decision. That exactly my problem with it. It’s a good business decision. But again, funny people who are likely to know good stuff when they see it.

Better are the judges for the New York auditions: Richard Belzer and Steven Schirripa. Belzer wrote the book on being a stand-up, even if they book was mostly tongue in cheek. And Schrippa is a stand-up himself and was praised a few years ago for his skills at booking the Riviera Comedy Club. New York comics are on naturally a different level that comics from the rest of the country because of the concentration of industry, clubs and alternative venue in a relatively small area. But with Belzer and Schirripa judging it, the finalist from New York could have an extra boost (or possibly knock them down, as both have enough taste to pick somebody who might be a bit off-kilter and not necessarily audience friendly for those voting at home).

One point to make: both pairs are definitely perfect for reacting to the peculiar talent that tries out for the show, which comes to think of it, is probably why they were selected. Here’s where the improv background for Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez comes in handy. Both will have the quick wit to have some fun with those contestants. And Belzer and Schirripa will likely assume an appropriately gruff demeanor for fameseekers looking to be in lowlight reel

Of course, all of this speculation is probably meaningless. Particularly if you take into account the opinions/experience of Drew Carey. Carey was a judge to pick the 10 finalists for LCS2. After his opinions were ignored at that final, he called the show “crooked and dishonest.” No matter who they bring on board, it’s important to remember that though any of the judges opinions are considered, “the final decision is made by the show’s producers and NBC executives.” And again, the producer’s interest is making a reality show, which are about personality more than talent.

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Posted by JackSzwergold on 02/04  at  01:47 AM

Here’s a fascinating observation about LCS, reality shows and American Idol.  Only NOW are people calling the value of an American Idol win as “questionable”.  But in the case of LCS, people have been a tad dismissive of it’s value right after the first season concluded. What does that say about the potential success of ANY comic related competition? It seems that even if LCS was beyond legit and fair, people would still knock it down a few pegs.

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