If you thought NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” already was filled with more comedians than you can possibly absorb in one evening, consider it inevitable that cable would take on the subject. It seems that basic cable is always creating parallel reality shows that mirror a better-known one on a commercial network or on a better cable network. TBS isn’t exactly known for delving much into reality shows, though they may be on that road now to try and up the ante after being in the background to other cable channels for years.
It’s always better to air a talent contest first when dipping your toe into the reality show foray. Yet, did they have to create such an obvious “Last Man Standing” knockoff? TBS’ “Funniest Wins” may be one of the most obvious talent competition knockoffs out there, with an even more obvious knockoff title. Nevertheless, it gives proof that standup comedians are starting to oversaturate the talent pool as much as singers have.
“Funniest Wins” at least provides a little bit of a twist in host Marlon Wayans (and his comedian friends) giving comedic advice to the comedians behind the scenes in the style of “American Idol” and “The Voice.” In that regard, “Funniest Wins” might be more interesting in seeing how a comedian can actually be formed into a true professional, especially neophytes who don’t have much performing experience. Then again, you have to give wonder whether some comedians should really be taught when improvisation is always better over being molded.
Just how many naturally gifted comedians do we have out there as they wait in audition lines next to all the talented singers? We’ve seen “American Idol” and “The Voice” manage to capture so many great singers that it’s almost impossible all of them can possibly dominate in their field. The same could be said of some truly hilarious comedians as we’re seeing on “Last Comic Standing.”
Will we eventually see so many comedians that they begin to cancel one another out? It’s already happening with singers in a very crowded singer universe. But natural talent in comedy might ultimately win over the mentorship, which is quite different from the untrained talents of a singer.
How Many Natural Comedic Talents Are Out There?
When it comes to singers, we consistently see how training improves them tenfold when working with the mentors on “Idol” and “The Voice.” Comedians, though, are ones who can go on riffs naturally without needing to worry about voice control and other technical factors. Fortunately, an astute comedic mind can nearly operate under its own control and turn into uproarious monologues, especially when improvised.
Comedy improvisation is already being proven to help everyone, including real life. And some comedians have a special knack for it without needing to be taught. Will some of the best comedians found on “Last Comic Standing” and “Funniest Wins” come from natural improv ability, or will they be taken down a few notches by being told to do things that otherwise might not work as well?
Hopefully comedians on “Funniest Wins” will be given a choice whether they want the behind the scenes training or not. Of course, all advice from mentors doesn’t necessarily have to be adhered to. We see singers defy what mentors say on “Idol” and “The Voice” once in a while.
It’s clear, though, that the comedians who can think the fastest on their feet will be the ones who will have the best careers. Those who always have to work off a script will have more limited opportunities, particularly because there’s no guarantee being a comedian will mean a scripted sitcom deal.
With that in mind, the comedian talent pool may be narrowed considerably more. Finding those who can improvise effectively and those who work off the crutch of written material may ultimately give us a better definition of how healthy the American comedian talent pool really is.