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Still Standing – Last Comic Standing returns for a Fourth Seasonby Dale Sherman -- 05/30/2006
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As most fans of LCS and of reality television in general already know, Last Comic Standing seemed to be gone for good in the fall of 2004 during its third season. All the details of that season can be found in our archives, but in brief, NBC seemed to have no faith in the program and yanked it before the finale of the third season could air, giving away the winner in a voiceover announcement before an episode of Father of the Pride. Combine that with tepid ratings, hard feelings from cast and crew with NBC, and an abundance of conspiracy theories out in the Internet and it seemed as if maybe it would be for the best if LCS was left buried in the sands of television ineptitude and everyone moved on.
Of course, as readers no doubt already know, that was not to be. Thanks to NBC realizing that they had a strong summer series on their hands (Seasons One and Two usually won or came in second in its time-slot, not to mention doing extremely well in the 18-49 age group category), and looking at a schedule that has left them in fourth place, it is no wonder that NBC came to the producers of LCS with hat in hand and asked for another season. The question for fans now is, what can we expect?
For now, it appears to be the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation for the program, with the series to be setup based on a series of try-outs that occurred from late February through early March in six clubs around the country. As in the first two seasons, comics were sent in to audition for Bob Reed and Ross Mark, who then picked who they felt could move on to a showcase at the clubs where the audience would vote for who they wanted to see move on to the finals. If that’s doesn’t sound familiar enough, even old try-out favorite Buck Star reappeared to hassle Bob and Ross again.
Also, as in previous seasons, the first episode will be feature a documentary of the trek across the country, with Bob and Ross snipping at comics they didn’t like. In some cases, that can be amusing; however, at times in the past it felt more like “Bob & Ross Insult Hour” instead of a showcase for the comics. Hopefully the first episode will be more of the former than latter, although rumors floating around from comics who attended seemed to suggest that NBC requested Bob and Ross to “Simon-ize” their remarks in order to juice up the try-outs a bit more. As for me, I’m just happy to see Hans show up again – one of my favorites from Season One. If they don’t pick Hans, I’m really going to be upset.
After the try-outs, we’ll see three judges pick from the finalists to say who will go into house. Again, all this seems just a slight variation of what has occurred in the past. The difference this time around is that the comics will be stationed on the Queen Mary. Why? It had been suggested that perhaps it was picked as there is a comedy club onboard, but most probably because NBC cut a sweet deal to use the ship for advertising dollars. Although the idea of the comics being able to hone their craft while stuck “in-house” is an intriguing idea, as one of the biggest complaints previous contestants had was that they couldn’t keeping in comedic shape for their challenges when stuck in a house for weeks on end. We’ll see if some thoughts went in that direction this year.
The scheduling of LCS4 also appears to be similar to the first two seasons, with the show running through June and July for a finale at the beginning of August. In fact, there appears to be only two major changes – that of the host and of a new feature involving comics who didn’t make the final grade. As to the host, Jay Mohr will not be appearing this year, nor is his production company involved with the show this time around. An old friend and former roommate of Jay’s (as well as a judge during the controversial Paris show that occurred at the beginning of Season Two), Anthony Clark will be taking over the hosting duties. Clark is familiar to some viewers as having been on the CBS series Yes, Dear for six years as well as a stand-up in his own right. While it is sad to see Mohr not involved with the show he created, it will be interesting to see if Clark’s participations will change some aspects of the show’s presentation.
In the biggest change, a secondary competition will begin in the second to third week of the program that will occur online at NBC.com. For six weeks, NBC will post videos of 30 comics – five comics a week – that survived the first round of auditions but didn’t make it to the final judging. Each week, viewers will be able to vote for one of the five comics they see that week. After six weeks, viewers will then look at the six weekly winners and pick two of them to appear on the next to last episode of LCS4, and one will be voted on by television viewing audience as the winner of that competition. It should be mentioned that this competition is completely separate from the main LCS4 competition, so two winners will be announced in the final episode of the series this year instead of just one as in previous years.
Will the show float or sink after a year and a half away and so much controversy? Will the changes – albeit minor for the most part – help or hurt the show? It certainly is going to be an interesting season this summer for Last Comic Standing and its viewers, and RNO will be there to cover everything that occurs.
Until next time, as Cub Koda always said, see you at the record bins.
You can e-mail Dale about this column or his other projects at email@example.com. You can also click here to buy his book, The Urban Legends of Rock and Roll: You Never Can Tell, or any of his other books. Dale also writes weekly recaps for the Ohio Valley Wrestling shows at their official website.
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