At long last, the cavalcade of never-before-seen comedians gracing the stage of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” is over as the show moved into the semifinal rounds of Season 9. The next two weeks will see the remaining 40 take the stage again to prove that they have more than one good set in their repertoire. 

Coaches Roseanne Barr, Norm Macdonald and Keenen Ivory Wayans had their faith from the invitational rounds tested as 20 of the remaining 40 semifinalists took the stage with their second set of jokes of the competition. The first half of the semifinalists competed for one of the five spots being offered in the show’s top 10 finalist round, meaning the stakes have never been higher. This is something that even the nicest judges in the competition up to this point made sure to remind each comedian of when they took the stage. Luckily, arming them against the armada of the judges’ ridicule was celebrity guest coach, and “Last Comic Standing” executive producer, Wanda Sykes. The show opened with many of the comedians performing their set for the 51-year-old funnywoman, who wasn’t afraid to dish out some tough advice to contestants that needed the push. She told comedian Clayton English, who had one of the best sets of the night during his invitational performance, that he needed to completely change the delivery of one of his jokes. She instructed Sammy Obeid on one of his punchlines and he fought back arguing that the jokes were an extension of his personality. It was refreshing to hear some tough love for the contestants after the judges, with the exception of Norm Macdonald, had nothing but kind words during the first rounds of Season 9. For the first time, it looked like everyone behind the show was flexing their experience in comedy muscles for the good of the performers.  

Unfortunately, all the coaching in the world couldn’t rescue some underprepared comedians from the harsh axe of Roseanne, who came alive in episode 5 more than anyone else. Not only was she willing to tell off the comedians who she felt didn’t put enough work in, she brought comedian DC Ervin to task for his set being 45 seconds short of his allotted time. Ervin did not move on to the next round.

The comedians that did survive the onslaught of the newly awakened judges were: Clayton English, Taylor Tomlinson, Francisco Ramos Andy Erikson and Sheng Wang. Together, they’ll join the five comedians that are crowned finalists during next week’s episode in the final rounds. The remaining ten comedians will go head-to-head in a live standup show before one of them is eventually crowned the last comic standing.