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Last Comic Standing to Return for Fifth Seasonby Dale Sherman -- 02/09/2006
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With the rating success of Season Four, it should come as no surprise to readers that NBC has picked up Last Comic Standing with an announcement in Burbank, California on February 1. As stated in the press release by NBC, the show ranked #4 overall in the ratings for summer series in the 18-49 demographics, averaging a 3.6 and a 10 share for that same age-group.
The announcement made then also gave some clues as to what changes are afoot for the new season as well. Ironically, no date was set as to when the series would air, but there certainly were some details that are worth noting:
Anthony Clark, who faced rather dismal critiques of his hosting last year, will not be returning this time around. This is really a good thing, for although Clark had his beginning in stand-up, he seemed very ill-at-ease (and sometime looked just flat-out ill) when hosting the fourth season. In fact, he faded so much into the scenery last season that I had to look up his name to remind myself who hosted last year.
Instead, the new host will be Bill Bellamy, who some viewers may know from hosting Def Comedy Jam as well as MTV Jams, and appearing in movies (Any Given Sunday and How To Be A Player, amongst others), television shows as well as his stand-up appearances. Bellamy has also done a lot of voice-work in animated programs and for video-games. Wikipedia also has him listed as the originator of the term “booty call,” but we’ll let that one pass. With his background as a host and his consistent work in television, Bellamy will probably make an excellent host for this season.
2) It has been reported that LCS3 winner and featured performer on LCS2 & LCS4, Alonzo Bodden will be one of three judges for the show this season, along with LCS2/LCS3 comic Kathleen Madigan and LCS1-LCS3 (as well as host/guest of every other program on television these days) ANT. The press-release for the program did not specifically state what they would be judging, but a Variety article from February 1st claims that they would be replacing Ross Mark and Bob Read. If so, this would really be a good thing to do, as Bob and Ross seemed both irritated and bored in the last go-around. To be fair, rumors went around that NBC requested they act more like American Idol’s Simon when dealing with contestants in the audition phase – a situation that didn’t make them look good nor helped to make for good material on the program in Season Four.
One would have to assume from these statements that Bodden, Madigan and ANT will only be there to judge during the audition phase of the program and not further on when the comics trying to make it to the house and/or in later head-to-head competition. Of course, it is always possible that the producers may be trying another route with the judging this year – certainly as the head-to-heads were the weakest element on the program last season – but it appears these three comics will only be there for the short-term.
Another big twist this time around is that the competition is going to be global in scope. Okay, actually, it’s going to be semi-global. Okay, just Sydney, London, Montreal and the regular haunts in the U.S. kinda-global. Still, it’s a step in a direction that some fans have requested for years – the addition of comics outside of the US. Keep in mind there were some international comics in earlier seasons, with Canadian Nikki Payne being the main stand-out of at least a continental flavor for the program; yet, this will be the first time the program has actively looked outside of the US for competitors.
The downside, as some fans and especially the conspiracy-theorists will cry, is that it would suggest that the well has run dry in the U.S. for comics and they need to move outside of it for more talent. One could also suggest that some comics have felt so burnt or burnt-out by the auditioning process in earlier seasons that the chances of many trying out again may not be in the cards. Then again, once those same comics find out that they will have fellow comics judging them this time around instead of the Simon-ized Read & Mark, they may still give it another chance.
It will be interesting to see if the producers and judges feel they have to take at least a certain number of comics from the other countries. In fact, it would be interesting to see if this might be their way of throwing out the entire “semi-finals” deal that may rack up ratings, but went down so horribly with the viewers last season after their favorites from the heavily-condensed try-out episodes didn’t make it to the house. If so, I would actually prefer that. Yet, to get back to the original line of thought here, it will be interesting to see how Australian comics work with those from London, America, and vice-versa. Although the old wives’ tale that Australians are just a rung above Germans when it comes to humor is not true, I would lay money down as to someone bringing that up in the program at some point. (And, hey, if they had a German contest, it would just mean that Klaus would finally make it to the house and they certainly wouldn’t want that to happen.) Of course, there’s also the antagonism that Quebec can sometimes bring up with the whole French-vs.-English dynamics there, so this may be their way of trying to drum up some excitement in the house – something that even some odd choices of contestants making the house last time couldn’t even do.
No mention was made in the press-release or online about doing another “send in your tapes” competition. As obvious from last year’s show, that went down so well that it was never mention in the program itself and must have been deemed just a bad idea that didn’t need another chance at bat. We still have the same executive producers with the show, but one can hope that they’ll be a little calmer when it comes to their blogs this year (which was just a sad story in itself).1 2 Next-->
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