Twin Cities comedians prepare to be Last Comic Standing

Categories: Comedy
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Beginning this Thursday, 100 of the best comedians from all over the world will compete for a prize package worth $250,000, which includes a talent deal as well as a development deal for a television show. Oh, and they get to be called the Last Comic Standing.

Back for its first new season in four years, Last Comic Standing will premiere tonight on NBC, and will feature five comedians from Minnesota showcasing their skills for celebrity hosts Roseanne Barr, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters. Two of those comics, Pat Susmilch and Tommy Ryman (who will be joined by Nate Abshire, Mary Mack, and Tim Harmston), were relieved to finally let the cat out the bag about being on the show, and chatted with us before hitting the small screen this week.

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Tommy Ryman
"It's fun to finally be able to talk about it," Ryman says about his reaction once the news of his involvement became public. "My wife and my parents knew I was going to be on the show, but that was it."

While this is his first time on the show, it's actually his second brush with LCS.

"I was supposed to audition a few years ago, and they me flew out to New York and everything," he recalls. "Then when I got there they passed on me before I could audition, so I just wandered around the city for a couple of days."

Unlike past seasons, this year the show won't feature open auditions, as all of the comics had to be invited to perform.

One man who almost accidentally sabotaged his invite to the show was Pat Susmilch.

"Back in December I was hosting a show for Wendy Liebman, and she says, 'Would you want to be on that show Last Comic Standing?' and I said 'Nope,'" he recalls. "I thought she was messing with me since that show hadn't been on for years. Then she goes, 'Oh, okay. I figured I'd ask since I know the producers and I was going to give them your name.' At that point I was like, 'Oh shit. You're serious. Yes, I would very much like to be on the show.'"

Both Susmilch and Ryman were flown out to Los Angeles in February, where they auditioned to make it into the top 100.

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Pat Susmilch
"There were probably 20 or so people in the club when I auditioned, so that made it a lot easier," says Ryman. Susmilch, on the other hand, found himself near the tail end of the auditions.

"By the time I auditioned it was just like five people including [executive producer] Wanda Sykes and some executives from NBC, so that was kind of stressful."

Both comics made the cut, and headed back out to L.A. the following month for the tapings, which we'll find out the results of beginning tonight.

In terms of performing for some of the biggest names in comedy, both Ryman and Susmilch say that the famous judges didn't faze them at all.

"They didn't tell us who the judges were until the night before we performed," Susmilch says. "I thought it was pretty cool to be performing in front of Roseanne, but to be honest I'm not well-versed in my Wayans brothers."

While their fate on the show is a closely guarded secret, both comedians are excited about the experience and are looking forward to showing the world their comic chops.

"It was like comedy summer camp," says Ryman. "It was fun because I knew a lot of the other comics, and we're all pretty much at the same level so we never really get to work together, so that was pretty cool."

As for Susmilch, his appearance on the show will make a believer out of his harshest critic:  himself.

"When I first started doing comedy, people would come up to me and be like, 'When are we going to see you on Last Comic Standing?' And I would just be like, 'Fuck you. That's a thing that's never going to happen so just fuck you.' So now it's sort of crazy that I'm actually going to be on it."

Last Comic Standing airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC
- See Pat Susmilch at Comedy Corner Underground this Friday and Saturday, and follow him on Twitter at @PSusmilch.
- See Tommy Ryman at Joke Joint Comedy Club July 17-19 and follow him on Twitter at @TommyRyman.

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