With NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” (LCS) about to select the last of its 40 semi-finalists for Season 9, viewers are being introduced to dozens of standup performers that they might not otherwise have been exposed to. Over the years, a lot of comics have gone through the reality competition - some went onto achieve great fame, while others have never be seen again.
Over the years, featured players in the comedy world have criticized NBC and the show for turning the art of standup comedy into a competition. Previous incarnations of the show were more than just a series of performances on a live stage. Over the years, the show has experimented with making the contestants live in the same house, roast one another, and compete in challenges. However, the comedians that have appeared on the show mostly agree that the opportunity to perform their material for a national TV audience far outweighed any humiliation that they may have endured during the process.
“Although Last Comic Standing may not provide the best setting for a standup comic, and the funniest comic may not always advance, I think any primetime exposure for comics is a good thing,” comedian and former “LCS” contestant Nikki Glaser told Splitsider in 2013.
Now that the show has eliminated some of the more reality TV elements of the show and boiled it down to just the comedy, 40 new comedians all have a chance to get their big break, thanks to NBC. On the eve of the 2015 semi-finals, it’s time to take a look back at some of the comedians that have graced the stage of “Last Comic Standing” to go on to greater fame.
[Warning: some clips are NSFW.]
Schumer stands at the top of the list because, quite frankly, she’s the most successful example of a comedian that’s come from “Last Comic Standing” and moved on to achieve greater success. Whether it’s writing and starring in “Trainwreck,” or being one of Comedy Central’s best TV personalities, the standup comedian’s star began to shine brightest during Season 5 in which she only placed fourth.
May got his start in the first season of “Last Comic Standing” when he became the runner-up, losing to comedian Dat Phan. However, since that time he’s gone on to make more than seven standup specials. His latest, “Unruly," is featured among Netflix’s recent push for more standup comedy. His loud voice and impossible to ignore persona have captivated his fans across various audiences as he continues to be the outcast comedian with an every man attitude.
Notaro was already a well-established performer before she took the stage at “Last Comic Standing” for Season 4. Since that time, she’s gone on to make a few standup specials, one of which garnered her a Grammy Award nomination. In addition, she recently released a documentary for Netflix in which she outlines her very public decision to announce her cancer diagnosis during a standup set in 2012.
Many may remember this “fluffy” comedian from when he went on an impossibly successful run of standup specials, starting in 2007 with “Hot and Fluffy.” Similar to Notaro, Iglesias was a pretty well-established comic, complete with his own “Comedy Central Presents” special, when he joined the cast of Season 4. He made it to the top eight performers but was disqualified for smuggling in a phone to communicate with friends and family, which was against the rules at the time.
Being in his 40s, Benson is a bit on the older side for a standup comedian. However, since his time on “LCS” in Season 4, he’s built a colossal brand for himself with podcasts and other shows like “Doug Loves Movies,” “Getting Doug With High” and documentaries like “Super High Me.” Meanwhile, he’s still a regular working standup comedian and a main staple in the LA scene. In 2014, he came out with a new special titled “Doug Dynasty.”
Anyone that’s seen her perform on late night or at one of the countless clubs in New York City will attest to the humor of Nikki Glaser. She got her start on “Last Comic Standing” Season 7. Since then, she’s had guest appearances in several popular shows like “@Midnight,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Trainwreck” and “VH1’s Top 20 Countdown.”
Shlesinger was a relatively unknown comedian until she hit it big by winning Season 6 of “Last Comic Standing” in 2008. Since then she’s been working vigorously to promote herself with late-night appearances and countless live performances. In January, she got another big break when Netflix asked her to perform a live special titled “Freezing Hot.”
"Last Comic Standing" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC.