A Last Comic Standing Audition Is a Fake Audition

A lot of people have tried to talk to me about the NBC Reality Show, “Last Comic Standing.” I’m not a very good sport about it. I don’t even try. The show is fake as hell and abusive to the up-and-coming comedians it purports to be showcasing. I know this because I endured their “open auditions” in Los Angeles earlier this year.

I’ll first say that I have endured the American Idol audition process as well, and though I found it to be mostly futile, it is a satisfying process that allows each desperate wannabe to come away with the experience of being rejected by a teenage production assistant posing as a “judge.” Last Comic Standing shows no such decency.

I arrived at the Hollywood Improv on Melrose at 8 pm on the evening before auditions. By nightfall, there were easily 300 comics in line, and they all slept on the street. I didn’t get to sleep until 4am because as “witty” as comedians are, I guess not enough of them are smart enough to shut up before 4am. The production crews woke us up at 5 am.

They compressed the line, collected some release forms and then took their crowd shots and B-roll. Around 9am it started to rain. The Gods of Comedy were crying.  A comedian with foresight provided a small awning that protected about twenty people from the rain. The production crews shooed comedians out from under the awning so that they could shoot interviews with contestants in wacky costumes.

By noon, the line had ceased to move. About 40 comics had been seen, and we were told that the judges were taking a lunch break. At this point, the two outhouses provided by the production had overflowed. One of the outhouses was fixed briefly, but soon overflowed a second time. I’d found a coffee shop the previous night and never went near the foul things, but the lack of foresight was appalling. Craig Robinson, the host of the show, assured the comedians that everyone would be seen. At this point, the production staff began frantically trying to collect release forms. Many comics, sensing a double-cross, refused.

The line never moved again, and the rain worsened. At the front of the line, the comics who had camped out were huddled against a wall so that “booked auditions” could move to the front. These “booked” comedians were all of the “wacky” variety: prop-comics and costume wearing attention-seekers. Last Comics Standing had intentionally “booked” acts that were easy for the judges to ridicule. The producers have that little faith in the wit of their judges.

The judges saw forty or less “open auditions” in eight hours’ time, an absolutely feeble effort. To disperse the angry mob of no-longer-feeling-very-funny people, cameras were brought out and the comedians were told that they could perform for the cameras for one minute. Unstated, but clearly intended, was the follow-up, “…and then please leave.” I composed a song about my experience and then left without performing it. I played it at home after I’d dried off:

It is clear that Last Comic Standing did not intend to cast a single one of the 300+ comedians that responded to their “open call.” The “open audition” is a hoax put on to collect B-roll footage and create the illusion of open competition. I have since had it confirmed by a former employee that as early as the 2nd season, the show was being cast before the open auditions were held. The show is apparently run by a talent management company that uses the show to promote its own roster. I wish they would utilize their roster for their exterior crowd shots and mockery, or at least post a truthful casting call. It would read, “Wanted: Unpaid extras to camp out overnight at the Hollywood Improv. No pay, credit, food, bathrooms or shelter.”

That they would knowingly make unpaid extras of their comedic brethren is disgusting. That they have so little faith in the wit of their judges that they provide easy fodder is underhanded. They fact that they maintained the façade through pouring rain and unsanitary conditions is criminal.

I’m posting this with the hope that if this vile show is ever produced again, comedians will know to not audition and rob these shysters of the footage they need to sell their lie. Anyone who believes the show has any interest in presenting a fair competition should be slapped anyway, so I have no illusions about rehabilitating the shows ethics. Lets just make them pay for extras next time.

Most Excellent Colorado Adventure

My trip home to Colorado was awesome. I saw lots of friends and family, and Emily and I did all kinds of things that you can’t do in Los Angeles, such as:

We breathed clean air, drank tap water without fear, drove 85 mph, merged at an appropriate speed, drove to Golden in the rain, beheld a skyline with fog instead of smog, watched Ubaldo Jimenez beat the Blue Jays 5-3 in a rain-shortened 6-inning game, and I stole an abandoned beer in the Sandlot Brewery.

We napped hard, saw a white guy mowing his own lawn, saw grass in the first place, had some sushi that wasn’t as good as the sushi in L.A., saw some buffalo and then remorselessly ate a Buffalo Burger at Turley’s in Boulder.

Drove on a highway for 40+ miles without stopping, toured the Anheuser Busch production facility in Fort Collins, saw some Clydesdale horses, drank some brews, ate a Buffalo Burger with Artichoke Dip on it, drank a flight of beers at Coopersmith’s Brewery, went through my childhood belongings and scored a Denver Broncos Super Bowl Champions T-shirt, and swerved to avoid some yahoo driving on the wrong side of the road.

We ate dinner at Casa Bonita, saw “pirates” and “gunfighters” fall into a pool, braved Black Bart’s Cave (just me), toured the Asgard Entertainment facility in Denver, sat through some painful stand-up comedy (just kidding, plenty of that in L.A.), and I got to be a special touring guest at the Lion’s Lair.

We walked around the haunted Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining and shooting locale for Dumb and Dumber, drove through Rocky Mountain National Park, took mountain pictures two miles above sea level, saw elk, big horned sheep and prairie dogs, saw the scary blazing-eye Bronco statue at Denver International Airport, and I ate frozen custard from Good Times.

Emily is an awesome picture taker, so here are the photo highlights:

The skyline from Coors Field

The Rockies won 5-3 and everyone got soaked

Shileikis' impression of South Park's Kenny

This is where the beer comes from

Casa Bonita, Casa Bonita! Just like I remember

This is where horror comes from

Prairie Dog Commando is hungry for grass

This is what Earth looks like if you don't fuck it up.

I like it up there. It's easier to think.

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