Comedy has ‘Last Laugh’

Roasts will toast Howard Stern, Paris Hilton, others

It’s not just for one person anymore: Comedy Central is gearing up to roast and toast Howard Stern, Paris Hilton, George Bush, Tara Reid, Martha Stewart and the rest of the most memorable faces and moments of 2004.

Laffer net has unveiled “Last Laugh ’04,” an annual comedy concert event headlining standup comics riffing on the year’s pop culture highlights.

Norm Macdonald, Greg Giraldo, Bill Engvall, Kathy Griffin, D.L. Hughley and Colin Quinn are set to weigh in, with special appearances by William Shatner and Andy Dick. Concert will also feature music perfs from Snoop Dogg, Pharrell and Modest Mouse.

“What could be better than a look at the year through the voice and comedy of stand-up comedians,” Comedy Central VP of talent and event Elizabeth Porter said. “They can look really look at the year, good and bad. Comics know how to laugh at some of the darker things in life.”

Vet awards show producer Joel Gallen will exec produce.

“Last Laugh” — the brainchild of Porter and net chief Doug Herzog — replaces attempted comedy kudocast “The Commies,” which drew just 908,000 overall viewers last December.

“Comedy Central just lacked, beyond the roasts, a big signature event,” said Porter, the former USA alternative topper Herzog recruited over the summer (Daily Variety, July 20) to build up talent relations. “The Commies” was a “good attempt, but an awards show is hard to do about comedy. Comics don’t want to celebrate themselves.”

BET did OK with its inaugural “BET Comedy Awards,” which premiered Sept. 28 to 1.9 million viewers, a tally on par with that of “VH1’s Big in ’03.”

But with Comedy Central on a roll with recent hits “Chappelle’s Show” and “Drawn Together,” Porter said the laffer net was searching for an event with potential to grow into an annual franchise on the scale of MTV’s “Video Music Awards” and “Movie Awards.”

“Last Laugh” will air Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. Event tapes Dec. 5 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles.

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