NBCUniversal Announces Winners of 'Stand-Up for Diversity' Comedy Search
Comedians Gina Brilllon and Jon Laster took home the top honors at NBCUniversal's ninth-annual "Stand-Up for Diversity" comedy search held recently at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California. The event was hosted by actor/comedian Alphonso McAuley ("Breaking In") and was the climax of a four-city outreach to discover the funniest diverse comics in the United States.
As the winners, Brillon and Laster were signed to a one-year talent holding deal with NBCUniversal.
"Once again, our Stand Up for Diversity Showcase was filled with inspired, unique and hilarious comics," said Grace Wu, Executive Vice President, Casting, NBCUniversal. "All of the stand ups have original voices and we look forward to considering them for NBC projects. We are especially excited to have Gina and Jon in talent holding deals for the upcoming season. I can't wait to see what they do next."
Selected finalists also earned the honor of joining the touring company of the "Stand-Up for Diversity College Tour." The 2012 finalists - in addition to Brillon and Laster -- included David Smithyman, Arvin Mitchell, Rob Haze, Vladimir Caamano, Kortney Shane Williams, Ryan Sickler, Reyne Amaya and Mo Amer.
In partnership with the National Association for Campus Activities (N.A.C.A.), the tour is expected to perform at more than 50 college campuses nationwide. Additionally, select finalists will be featured in February at the N.A.C.A National convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
An actress, comedian and writer, Brillon possesses as much sex appeal as she does sass in her in-your-face Style of standup comedy. Brillon's rare mix of femininity and fearlessness has made her a hit with crowds across the globe. The Bronx-born Latina has no trouble connecting with her male or female fans with her raw honesty about everything from what it's like being an "ethnic" to a brutal breakdown of the female mind.
Brillon is a regular on the New York scene, performing at Caroline's Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory, Standup New York, The Comic Strip and Gotham Comedy Club. She has also been featured in numerous independent film productions such as "The Mime" series, "Consequences," "Went to Coney Island" and the "Cyclist." She also opened for singers Chrisette Michelle and Ne-Yo. Some of Brillon's other achievements include being featured on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham," Comedy.TV, MTV3, SiTV and in Latina magazine. She was featured in profiles in such newspapars as the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Already a published poet, Brillon has branched out into the world of blogging and blogs regularly on her website www.GinaBrillon.com.
With skill and determination, Laster swiftly paid his dues and worked his way to now being one of America's leading comedians. After leaving a Lifetime of basketball, which included Laster being named as a high school All-American and a stint playing Division-I college basketball, he jumped into comedy. In less than five years, Laster has worked some of the most popular and well-respected rooms across the country, including New York's Caroline's Comedy Club, the Boston Comedy Club and Comedy Works of his hometown of Denver. Laster also hosts his own weekly comedy night in Brooklyn, where he currently resides.
He recently appeared at Laugh-A-Palooza in Atlanta, Ga. He could be seen on BET's "The Best of Comic View" every season for the past three years and is currently expanding his horizons in film and television. When asked what he wants for his audience, Laster replied, "My goal is to make people feel good and forget about or at least laugh at life's pressures, even if just for a few minutes." Authenticity, with an equal mixture of laid-back and animated Style is what makes the Denver native so intriguing.
Host McAuley starred on the comedy series "Breaking In," and co-starred in the feature films "Fat Albert" and "Glory Road."
Building on NBCUniversal's noteworthy success in 2012 with the "Stand-Up for Diversity" open calls and showcases, this year's hunt for the funniest comics of diverse backgrounds included such locations as New York City, Atlanta, Vancouver, B.C., and Arizona.
The talent search was overseen by Kendra Carter, Director, NBC Talent Diversity Initiatives. All comedians were evaluated on the originality of their material, delivery, cast-worthiness and overall performance. This year's 10 finalists were selected from a pool of over 50 semi-finalists.