NBC's 'Last Comic Standing 4' reveals its twelve finalists
By Reality TV World staff, 06/14/2006
After two episodes covering its open auditions and two more broadcasts that chronicled its Los Angeles semifinals round, last night's Last Comic Standing 4 broadcast ended with the NBC reality show revealing the identities of this season's twelve finalists.
While, unlike Last Comic Standing 2, none of this season's celebrity judges have publicly declared the semifinal competition's results "crooked and dishonest," the fact the finalist selection process appears to have resulted in an unusually diverse group of finalists and once again includes at least one comic who has a link to Last Comic Standing producer Barry Katz has once again sparked viewer allegations that the competition's semifinalist decisions were based on more than just comedic talent.
Back in Season 2 (Last Comic Standing 3, a hastily-assembled competition between the first two seasons, did not feature open casting), The Hollywood Reporter had noted that a clear conflict of interest existed in the decision to cast Gary Gulman and one-name comic Ant, who were both managed by Katz at the time of their Last Comic Standing 2 appearances. Ant, who had also unsuccessfully tried out for Last Comic Standing's initial 2003 edition, had hired Katz as his manager prior to his participation in Last Comic Standing 2.
When coverage of Last Comic Standing 2's semifinals eventually aired, the broadcast included footage of celebrity judge Brett Butler storming off the set after the finalists were announced and fellow judge Drew Carey complaining that he, Butler, and Anthony Clark (another of second season's four celebrity judges and now host of the show's fourth season) didn't vote for several of the announced finalists. In response, Last Comic producer Peter Engels was shown informing Carey that while the judges' votes were taken into account, final casting decisions were made by NBC executives and the show's producers (a disclosure that also appeared in the fine print of the show's first season rules.)
Nonetheless, both Carey and Butler subsequently went public with their complaints. "I thought it was crooked and dishonest," Carey told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was like somebody at NBC cast the show ahead of the event in Vegas. And they had 1,100 in the audience (for the semifinals competition) who saw how blatantly it was cast. If this happened on Survivor or any other reality TV show, it would be a major scandal." "We were both surprised and disappointed at the results... we had NOTHING to do with them," Butler later wrote in a posting on her website.
In addition to being equally split by gender, this season's cast includes a Mexican-American, two African-Americans, a lesbian, a pregnant woman, a preacher's daughter, a U.S. Paralympic soccer player who has cerebral palsy, and an attractive, redheaded, comedic newcomer who just happens to be Gulman's girlfriend.
Now that the season's finalists have been revealed, the finalists will move into their new home on the Queen Mary, a luxury ocean liner docked in Long Beach, CA, and begin competing in Last Comic Standing 4's weekly challenges. After a "Heckle Challenge" that pits the comics against each other, a head-to-head challenge will determine which two comedians will be sent home at the conclusion of next week's episode.
Voted one of the "Top 10 Comics" by Backstage Magazine in 2004, Michele Balan is a brash New York stand-up comedian who has performed on Comedy Central as well as in top comedy clubs, theaters, festivals and on cruises all over the country. She got her start as a "female female impersonator," doing lip sync impressions of Bette Midler, and has been entertaining audiences ever since. Often told she is "like a female George Burns with many one-liners," Balan has performed at top comedy clubs from The Improv in Los Angeles to Caroline's on Broadway in New York, and from the Montreal "Just for Laughs Festival" to the "Dinah Shore Women's Weekend." Balan has shared the stage with Kathy Najimy, Jennifer Holiday, Taylor Dayne, Harvey Fierstein, Bruce Vilanch and Nell Carter. In 1999, she recorded a CD at The Improv in Los Angeles which features Nell Carter singing a song parody that Balan wrote, and she recently recorded the critically-acclaimed DVD "LIVE Just Barely" at the famed Joe's Pub.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Ty Barnett began touring -- and earning rave reviews -- in California, Oregon and Canada before being voted "Up-and-coming Comedian of the Year" in 2002 at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. He first gained the attention of Hollywood after being named "Outstanding Performer" at Montreal's "Just for Laughs Festival." Since then, Barnett has appeared on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" as well as "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and is a regular on the "Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson." Additional television credits include "Comedy Central Presents," "Premium Blend" and numerous television commercials, and he appeared in the feature film "Stand-up." He has been the opening act for Donna Summer, and has also performed with Chris Rock, Al Green and Robert Schimmel. On the comedy club circuit, Barnett has performed at the Improv, Caroline's, The Comic Strip, Caesar's Palace, Zanie's and The Ice House, and is one of the most requested comedians at colleges across the country.
Hometown: Camaroon, West Africa
A gifted stand-up comedian and talented U.S. Paralympic soccer player, Josh Blue refuses to bow to any of the challenges that come from living with cerebral palsy. He jokes, "I realize that people are going to stare so I want to give them something to stare at." He uses his self-deprecating sense of humor to defy stereotypes and encourage others to overcome their pre-conceived notions about disabled people. Blue -- who was born in Camaroon, West Africa, and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota -- has been making audiences laugh in top comedy clubs, theaters, college campuses and corporate events all over the country. At the 2004 Las Vegas Comedy Festival, he won the $10,000 Grand Prize at the Royal Flush Comedy Competition, and he earned rave reviews on the college circuit in 2005. He has also guest-starred on Comedy Central's "Mind of Mencia." In addition to being a stand-up comic, Blue is also a U.S. Paralympic soccer player, and he participated in the 2004 Paralympic Games that took place in Athens, Greece.
Hometown: Kent, Washington
Comedian and actress Rebecca Corry was born and raised in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington…or as she likes to call it, "the El Camino-driving, mullet-wearing, one-toothed pregnant teen capital of the world." She lived in Chicago for eight years, where she studied writing, acting and improvisation at theaters such as The Second City, Annoyance and Center Theater. After an 11-month run in the Chicago production of "Tony & Tina's Wedding" as the pregnant made-of-honor, Corry moved to Los Angeles. Since then, she has appeared at the HBO workspace in her first one-woman show, "Have You Ever Been Called a Dwarf?," was in the feature film "Big Fat Liar" and guest-starred on "Yes, Dear," The King of Queens," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "The Wayne Brady Show. " She recently hosted the second season of "Mix It Up," the interior design show created and executive produced by Courtney Cox Arquette and David Arquette, and can currently be seen on Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" and E!'s "101" series. She has performed stand-up at top comedy clubs and universities all over the country.
Hometown: Evergreen Park, IL
Bil Dwyer is an accomplished standup comic whose resume also includes acting, hosting and writing. His hip and sardonic takes on marriage, kids and family have been showcased in the half-hour comedy special "Comedy Central Presents: Bil Dwyer," as well as on "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," "The Martin Short Show," NBC's "Late Friday," "Evening at the Improv" and "Caroline's Comedy Hour." Dwyer guest-starred on "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Ally McBeal," and currently hosts GSN's "I've Got a Secret." He has hosted "Extreme Dodgeball," "That '70s House," "Battlebots" and "Dirty Rotten Cheaters," and has been a regular comedy commentator on VH1's series "I Love the '70s," "I Love the '80s" and "I Love the '90s." Additional credits include "The Test," VH1's "The List," E's "Rank" and AMC's "Movies at Our House." On the big screen, Dwyer appeared in the films "Ski School 2," "The Bogus Witch Project" and "What Planet Are You From?"
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Stand-up comedian and actor Joey Gay mines his laughs from his infamous surname, his colorful childhood in Brooklyn and his place in the family as the younger brother of five sisters, which gave him a unique perspective on the differences between men and women.
He is a regular at New York comedy hotspots like Caroline's on Broadway, Comedy Village, Laugh Factory and Catch a Rising Star. In addition to performing at top clubs across the country, he has also appeared at casinos such as the Borgata and Resorts in Atlantic City and Foxwoods in Connecticut. As an actor, he has appeared on NBC's "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Deadline." On the big screen, Gay appeared in the films "Close Strangers," "Exit 8A," "Times Modem," "The Vibe" and "The Play." He has also appeared on several cable shows, including MTV's "Damage Control." In his spare time, Gay is working on a documentary about New York City's historic comedy clubs. The documentary features interviews with some of the biggest names in comedy, including Woody Allen, Bret Butler and Richard Lewis.
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Known as the "fluffy" comic in the Hawaiian shirt, comedian Gabriel Iglesias has entertained audiences on numerous televisions shows and in comedy clubs all over the country. Born in San Diego and raised primarily in Long Beach, CA, Iglesias has guest-starred on "My Wife & Kids" and "Resurrection Boulevard," performed stand-up in his own comedy special "Comedy Central Presents: Gabriel Iglesias," and appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Good Morning America," "Showtime at the Apollo" and "ComicView." Additional television credits include "Premium Blend," "Comic Remix," "Make Me Laugh" and the "Latino Laugh Festival." He won a Kid's Choice Award as a regular performer on Nickelodeon's "All That," and won the Comedy Central & Comcast Cable's Comedy Special of the year in 2003. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, he was voted into "Standup Showdown's" top 25 on Comedy Central. He appeared in the feature films "El Matador" and "The Surfer King," has a CD entitled "Picachu…I See You.," and can be seen headlining in clubs across the country.
Hometown: Aurora, Missouri
Twenty-five-year old Kristin Key seems like any other sweet, sexy, well-behaved preacher's daughter…until she opens her mouth. Her fearless style of comedy has earned her the title "Preacher's Kid Gone Wild," and after starting her stand-up career at age 19, she quickly became one of the youngest female headliners in the country. Key was born in Aurora, Missouri, raised in Liberal, Kansas and lived in Amarillo, Texas until moving recently to San Marcos, Texas. She was in college studying to be a paramedic in 2000 when the Amarillo Comedy Club opened and her life took a fateful turn. Key did her first open mic night there and was hooked. She quit college that same week to take a full-time job at the club and pursue her career as a comedian. Since then, Key has performed all over the country in clubs like The Improv, The Funnyfarm, Laff's Comedy Club, Jokers and the Capital City Comedy Club in Austin, where she auditioned for "Last Comic Standing."
Hometown: Easton, PA
Though relatively new to comedy, Easton, Pennsylvania native April Macie has already performed her irreverent brand of "overtly sexual humor" at some of the country's top comedy clubs, including The Improv, Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, Carolines and Punchlines. A difficult childhood and a dysfunctional family gave Macie plenty of material to draw from. "Bad parents are the gift that keeps on giving," she says. Macie decided to give comedy a try after a really bad break-up. Both her therapist and her father gave up on the idea that she could hold down a "real job" and suggested she pursue performing as a way to redirect some energy, and from the moment she set foot on stage she realized comedy was her calling. "There is nothing better than making a room full of people laugh," she says. "Laughter is the best medicine... right next to prozac." She says that her routine gives "a behind-the-scenes look at women's views on sex."
Hometown: Kansas City, KS
Kansas City native Chris Porter has been a comedian for the past eight years, and says the best part of being a comic is "the complete lack of responsibility." He has performed on Comedy Central and in comedy clubs and colleges all over the country, drawing his material from "living life as a 27-year-old comedian who wakes up at noon and does whatever he wants." Porter got his start in comedy when a friend tried it first and suggested he try it too. "I fell in love with it the moment I stepped on stage," says Porter, whose unique observations on life – often told from a Midwest perspective – help define his "rock 'n' roll" style of comedy. He was recently seen on Comedy Central's "Live Tour" and will be appearing in the new season of their series "Live at Gotham," airing this summer. He has performed at The Improv -- including the Hollywood, Miami, Tampa and Orlando locations -- as well as at Funnybones, Zanies, Loony Bins and Stardome.
ROSLANE "ROZ" GHOLSTON
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Stand-up comedian Roz has an impressive resume that includes performances on television, in top comedy clubs and as the opening act to comic stars like Jamie Foxx, Bret Butler and Cedric the Entertainer. The Newark, New Jersey native, who was raised in Orange, New Jersey, has appeared in "Jamie Foxx's Laffapalooza 2006," BET's "Comic View 2005," VH1's "Sixteen Candles Reunion" and "From A to Z," as well as Comedy Central's "Premium Blend." She has performed in top comedy clubs across the country, including Caroline's on Broadway, the Laugh Factory, The Improv and The Comedy Cellar, as well as Harlem's Uptown Comedy Club and Atlanta's Uptown Comedy Corner. Roz won the New York "Comics on Fire" comedy competition, Newark's "Bud Light Comedy Competition" and the "Tom Joyner Comedy Competition," and was a finalist in the "Def Comedy Jam" contest. She has also performed at universities all over the country. In addition to being a comedian, Roz also has ten years of experience traveling the country as a motivational speaker on 12-step programs and women's issues.
Hometown: Lvov, Russia
A boisterous, self-proclaimed "Russian princess," Stella is a wife, mother and domestic diva whose eccentric home life inspires her high-energy comedy performances. Now pregnant with her second child due in June, the Russian native who was raised in Brooklyn pokes fun at her husband and daughter, her "crazy Russian relatives" and even herself – "a desperately-trying-to-stay-hip-housewife stuck in suburbia." Stella was highlighted in the "New Faces" showcase at the prestigious New York Underground Comedy Festival, and recently made her Las Vegas debut with sell-out weeklong performances. She is currently a regular at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, where she hosts her own celebrity-filled comedy night called "Friday Night Live," with all-star guests like Robin Williams, Bob Saget and Dave Chappelle. She is also one of the producers of "Hot Tamales Live," an all-female comedy show that celebrates women and diversity and is held at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.