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"Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 06/11/2003

How can you not love Jay Mohr?  He starred in one of the funniest shows ever on the FOX network, the Hollywood agent comedy “Action,” and if I were a sports fan, I’m sure I’d love ESPN’s “Mohr Sports.”  Now he has brought us the “American Idol” of comedians to NBC, called “Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America,” and on this show you can be older than 25-years-old (in fact, several are.)  Finally…we don’t have to see another performance of a song from Chicago!


The show is hosted Mohr, who also serves as its executive producer.  For eight episodes, it features a nationwide talent search for professional and non-professional comedians (both male and female.)  Rob Read and Ross Mark led the initial search for the semi-finalists.  They showed brief glimpses of the many comedians who tried out for the show.  It is apparent that they weren’t looking for impressionists or novelty acts.  The first two episodes showed the Los Angeles and New York semi-finals.  In L.A., the 25 semi-finalists perform before a panel of celebrity judges, or “celebrity talent scouts,” as they call them.  The talent scouts for the west coast semi-finals were “Fear Factor” host/comic Joe Rogan, actress/comic Mo’Nique, and the legendary comedian Buddy Hackett.  After each comic performed their three-minute acts, Mohr came out to present ten comics with plane tickets to Las Vegas for the national semi-finals.  In New York, the process was the same, with 25 comics doing their three-minute acts for ten more slots in the national semi-finals.  The celebrity talent scouts for the east coast semi-finals were actor/comic/“Saturday Night Live” alum Colin Quinn, co-host of “The View”/comic Joy Behar, and actress/comedian Caroline Rhea.  In Las Vegas, the comics will be narrowed down to ten finalists, then the show will follow the comedians as they live together in a house and compete for the title of “Last Comic Standing.”  Okay…they get other stuff too.  The winner will get an exclusive talent contract with NBC and his or her own stand-up special on Comedy Central.  It appears that the talent scouts for the national finals will be actor/comedian/dad from the Friday movies John Witherspoon, legendary comedienne Phyllis Diller, former “Talk Soup” host/recurring “Friends” guest star Aisha Tyler, and “Saturday Night Live” alum Victoria Jackson.  The ten finalists will then compete against each other, and the home viewers will decide the winner.


I loved this show!  I got the same reaction to it that I got from watching “Nashville Star,” that it’s going to be a tough competition.  Almost all of the comics were great, with my personal favorite being Ralphie May, an extremely overweight comedian who did more than the obvious fat jokes.  You can tell the good comedians when they are thrown a curveball by the talent scouts and Mohr, and they come back with great responses.  May had a great comeback when Mohr asked him if he had ever been a contestant on “Fear Factor.”  He said no, but he could be one of the events (suggesting that the contestants would rather eat the bugs than find items in the creases of his skin.)


I just have one minor suggestion.  When you are doing a show that depends on the tension of who wins…DON’T SPOTLIGHT THE EVENTUAL WINNERS!  It took all the suspense out of the competition for the home viewers.  I knew who almost all the winners of the west and east coast semi-finals were going to be because they did long segments about their lives at home and the process of how they got to where they are now before they did their acts.  The losers were only on for their act, and they didn’t even show all of the act in many cases.  This criticism doesn’t mark the show down any, but I just thought it was funny that they did that.

Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America” is certainly going to be a favorite of mine in the 2003 “Summer of Reality.”  It will be a tough competition, since many of the comedians stand out.  I think that more than just the winner will end up being a star, and most of them deserve it.  I laughed several times during their acts, and I agreed with most of the choices of the talent scouts (yes, Ralphie May made the cut and is going to the national semi-finals.)  It will be interesting to see life in the “Comic House,” as they call it, because the comedians will naturally begin to make fun of each other, and I’m sure it will make for some hilarious television.  If you are tired of all the singing and dating reality shows, the genius Jay Mohr has brought a bit of comic relief for you at last.

Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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