Comedy Central seeks standup guy

Cabler to pay $100K or so an episode

NBC has signed a deal to funnel same-week repeats of its eight-hour summer reality series “The Last Comic Standing” to Comedy Central.

For the rerun rights, Comedy Central will pony up $100,000 or so an episode, about one-fifth of the show’s total budget, helping NBC to counter those who gripe that there’s no ancillary market for reality shows.

Subtitled “The Search for the Funniest Person in America,” “The Last Comic Standing” will launch a nationwide talent search for comedians, both professional and non-professional, with the first two hours depicting the auditions of the would-be comics. Actor-comedian Jay Mohr is the host.

The next five hours will cover the semifinals in New York and Los Angeles that filter the wannabes to 10 finalists. The production entities — Peter Engel Prods., NBC Enterprises and Giraffe Prods. — lodge the 10 in a house and follow their interaction with cameras as the tension builds to the final episode, when one will emerge the winner.

Final episode live

That final episode will be live and could run longer than one hour if a mass audience has discovered the first few episodes.

Kathryn Mitchell, senior VP of programming for Comedy Central, said the winner will get not only a talent contract with NBC but a standup special on Comedy Central.

“This show is perfect for Comedy Central because we’ve taken on an enormous commitment to standup comedy,” said Mitchell. “Every Friday, we run standup from 8 p.m. to midnight.”

“The Last Comic Standing” is the second repurposing deal Comedy Central has struck with NBC, following the earlier contract for “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” Comedy Central schedules “Late Night” in the early evening, at 7 p.m., so it won’t cannibalize the NBC premiere at 12:35 a.m.

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