NBC Reveals The Last Comic Standing Contestants

After an extensive international search that spanned across the country and the globe, the twelve funniest comedy acts in the world have been revealed on NBC's "Last Comic Standing." They range from newcomers to veteran performers, and include a musical Christian folk duo, a master impressionist and one of Prince Charles' favorite comedians. In addition to the U.S., the comedians represent India, England and Canada.

Now that the top 12 comedy acts have been revealed, the show moves on to an exciting new phase as the finalists move into a house together and start facing weekly challenges and head-to-head comedy showdowns. The comics learn from host Bill Bellamy that their first challenge will pit them against each other in an all-new arena – the boxing ring! Instead of brawn, the contestants must rely on their brains, and instead of punches, jokes and disses will be thrown at their opponents. The comics will meet head-to-head in the ring, sparring with quick-witted and humorous verbal attacks until the winning comic is named champ, receiving immunity from this week's elimination. This episode, which also features a Top 10 counddown of the funniest jokes ever on "Last Comic Standing," airs Thursday, July 10 from 9-11 p.m. ET, following a condensed version of the previous week's episode from 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET.

Following are the bios for the top 12 comedy acts in "Last Comic Standing":

Hometown: Peterborough, Ontario Canada
Currently resides in: Toronto

Sean Cullen, who describes his style of comedy as a hybrid of stand-up, impressions, music and characters, initially studied acting at the University of Windsor in Ontario. But he had a hard time fitting in to the regimen of drama school, and ultimately decided that comedy offered a lot more freedom of choice than acting. He has been making audiences laugh ever since, touring and performing for the past 20 years. He considers the first time he appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to be a career highlight, and says, "The best thing about being a comedian is that many people go to work every day doing things they really don't want to do. I love my job. I love the danger of it. I love not lifting things." Cullen says, "I think I'll be the 'Last Comic Standing' because I'm different from everyone else in the competition. I think America is ready for something new, a hybrid of many styles of performance. My versatility is my greatest strength. Also, I am a robot from the future."


Hometown: Kent, Washington
Currently resides in: Seattle, Washington

Jeff Dye, who got his start in comedy by being the class clown in junior high and high school, tried college but decided he'd rather pursue comedy instead. He got his start at the Seattle comedy club Giggles, and describes himself as an "optimistic and clean comic." "My style of comedy is edgy and creative without cursing or using profanity," he says, adding "I want people to know that you don't have to be depressed or tortured or negative to be a comedian." A rising star in the comedy scene who has performed all over the country, Dye won Seattle's "Giggles" laugh-off in 2007 and was also a semi-finalist in Seattle's International Comedy Competition in 2006. Dye says the best thing about being a comedian is "that when you do your job well, people love you for it. People all over the world do their jobs great and they don't get adored for it." He says that "creativity" sets him apart from other comics and he thinks he'll be the "Last Comic Standing" because he "doesn't need to joke about sex, or curse to make people laugh."


Hometown: Buckingham, England
Currently resides in: Buckingham, England

Englishman Paul Foot got his start in comedy while studying mathematics at Merton College, Oxford, performing in a little cellar in front of other students. His cellar performances went so well he vowed immediately "to be a comedian until I got really old or died," he says. He describes his style of comedy as "quite frenetic." "I move about talking about a lot of things that concern me," Foot says. "However, I am not at all angry. I am more mellow, like an elderly aunt who sits all day, sipping tea with her regrets." Foot regularly performs live in venues across London, and his more recent TV appearances include Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, the U.K. comedy discussion show "FAQ U," "Edinburgh and Beyond" shows on the Paramount Comedy TV Channel, "The World Stands Up" and "Unanimous – The Fallout on E4." In September 2006, he started "Paul Foot's Comedy for Connoisseurs," a regular solo variety show in London. He has a rapidly growing following of those who have taken to his unique style of performance who gather in a fan club-esque secret society he calls "The Guild of Paul Foot Connoisseurs." Foot thinks he'll be the "Last Comic Standing" because of his "blind faith in the reading of the tarot cards."


Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, California

Ron G, who describes his comedy as "high energy and clever with an urban flare," graduated with a dual degree in finance and management from the University of South Carolina. But he quickly decided he didn't fit in to the corporate world, so at his cousin's urging, got up on stage for the first time in Atlanta, GA and got booed severely. He calls that "the best and worst day of my life – the day I fell in love with comedy." He has been performing ever since at clubs, colleges, churches and corporate events across the country, entertaining people while staying true to his commitment to clean humor. He was crowned the Sierra Mist Late Night Laff-off winner in Atlanta in 2005, and was handpicked by Robert Townsend to be one of the cast members of "Barber Shop Critics" on the Black Family Channel. Having Martin Lawrence tell him he was funny is one of his career highlights so far, and he thinks he'll be the "Last Comic Standing" because, he says, "I want to represent the new generation of comedians that get overlooked. And show the world the new generation is just as funny, clever and talented."


Hometown: the Midwest
Currently reside in: New York City

Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb met as freshman roommates at Christ Our Leader College, where Gideon majored in smiles and general studies, and Jeremiah designed his own major: Christian Practicality in the Everyday, Every Day. They formed the musical Christian folk duo God's Pottery, hoping to use their music, people skills and Biblical know-how to "engage the Youth." Describing their unique style of comedy, they say, "Imagine a rainbow. Now double it!" For them, the best thing about being in comedy is "teaching sad hearts to sing, and picking up new quips and zingers from the other comics." They enjoy bringing their smiles, boyish enthusiasm and above-average comprehension of the Gospels to clubs across the country, where they hope to "inspire all who are willing to listen with open hearts." God's Pottery says they are different from other comics because "We know how to laugh and have a good time, but also make sure it's safe for the Youth. It's those kinds of leadership skills that really separate 'the wheat' from 'the shaft.' And we think America will recognize that!"


Hometown: New York City
Currently resides in: Hollywood, California

Adam Hunter says he fell in love with stand-up comedy the first time he stepped on stage, and he has been entertaining audiences ever since. While studying political science and communication at the State University of New York in Binghamton, he had his own cable access show that convinced him he wanted to entertain for a living. Talking about everything from relationships to his dysfunctional family, Hunter says, "I have a fast-paced style of comedy where I tell the maximum amount of jokes per minute." He loves to travel and have the freedom to say whatever he wants on stage. He is currently on Showtime's "Whiteboyz in Da Hood," and has done stand-up on "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," SiTV's "Latino Laugh Festival," Telemundo's "Loco Comedy Jam" and has appeared in sketches on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." He was also the subject of the MTV show "True Life: I am a Comic." He had a guest-starring role on "Yes, Dear," and appeared on "30 Biggest Celebrity Feuds" on E!, "Weekend Extra" on TBS, VH1's "Baggin," as well as "Britney Vs. Christina," and counts performing for U.S. military troops in Japan, Guam, Gauntanamo Bay, Korea, Bahrain and Africa as his career highlight so far. Hunter thinks he'll be the "Last Comic Standing" because his "desire and heart" set him apart from other comics.

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Currently resides in: New York City

Esther Ku, who made her comedy debut as emcee of her 8th grade talent show, graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing. But she quickly decided she was more comfortable hanging out in comedy clubs than working a 9-5 job, and moved to Boston to get involved in the comedy circuit there. "Comedy clubs are the only place I can go and not get in trouble for laughing," she says, after being kicked out of classes and actually fired for "laughing too much" at a previous job. Known for her all-American bratty charm and infamous maniacal laugh, she says her comedy style can best be described as "an innocent portrayal of one who views the world with childlike eyes. Kids don't censor anything. I embody a childlike disposition and vulnerability in order to get away with some of the ridiculous things I say on stage." Ku was selected as one of the ten best comedians for the 2006 NBC Stand-up for Diversity Showcase in New York City, and has been a featured regular in the Boston International Comedy Festival and the New York Underground Festival. "I'll be the 'Last Comic Standing' because I am accustomed to winning everything," she says. "If I don't win, I will be really confused!"


Hometown: West Jordan, Utah
Currently resides in: West Jordan, Utah

Marcus has always done comedy from the time he was little, developing a talent for voices by the time he was just 8 years old. He tried his hand at all sorts of things ranging from professional wrestling to singing in a rock band to doing voices for local radio before he finally tried taking his comedy talent to the stage. "It was instantly the thing I knew I was born to do," he says, "and I haven't stopped doing it since." His comedy encompasses straight stand-up, impressions and music – "I like being a showman," he says. Marcus was the winner of the 2007 Seattle International Comedy Competition and the 2007 Rocky Mountain Laugh-Off, as well as a semi-finalist in HBO's 2007 Lucky 21 Showcase. He was Salt Lake City Weekly's Artys Award winner in 2006 and 2007, winning the Reader's Choice Award for Best Local Comedian. Marcus says the best thing about being a comedian is doing what he loves night after night, and says he will be the "Last Comic Standing" because "I do things the other comics don't do, and I'm very good at all the things I do. I'm the complete package!"


Hometown: Calcutta, India
Currently resides in: New Delhi, India

The son of a tea planter who started work making 66 cents a day, Papa CJ received a Masters degree in Business at the University of Oxford. He then spent four years as a management consultant to repay his student loans before deciding to give it all up to pursue comedy, having only seen stand-up for the first time just 6 months before. Despite many people thinking he was crazy giving up a good job to become what some of his countrymen perceived as "some kind of clown in a traveling circus," he followed his heart. Three months later, he won the infamous King Gong Show at the Comedy Store in London and then quickly became a regular at that club. Papa CJ also had a vision to support underprivileged children through his comedy and set up the "One Child" charity, which helps educate children and support a village of 4,800 people in rural India. He says the best things about being a comedian are: "waking up late, never having to commute at rush hour, traveling all over the world, working less than two hours a day, exercising free speech in its truest form, staying the course on the journey of self-discovery that is stand-up comedy, and spreading laughter and cheer." Asked what sets him apart from his competition on "Last Comic Standing," Papa CJ says, "I have come to represent the rising voice of a billion people. If I can change the world's stereotypical perceptions of my country and earn some respect for my people, then that is worth more to me than the $250,000 prize."


Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Currently resides in: Queens, New York

Louis Ramey tried comedy on a dare from friends who enjoyed his humor, and quickly fell in love with performing. He describes himself as a "blue-collar working comic," and he has entertained in everything from strip clubs to plush resorts and top comedy clubs, doing shows for audiences of 6 to 6,000. "I like to use every tool to get the laugh – make the face, make the sound, make use of timing, body language and I try to make every other line a joke," he says. "I try to get my set to build. Walk on stage with a smile, then don't give them a chance to catch their breath!" Ramey won the Jury Award for Outstanding New Artist at the 1999 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and in 2007, was voted by college students as Best Comedian from the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. He has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Last Call with Carson Daly," "Comedy Central's Premium Blend," and had his own half-hour special "Comedy Central Presents: Louis Ramey." When asked what the best thing is about being a comic, Ramey says, "It's a tie between never having a boss and getting to travel the world." He adds, "I work every week of the year because I love what I do. That is why I believe I can win 'Last Comic Standing.'"


Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Currently resides in: Hollywood, California

Iliza Shlesinger grew up in Dallas, TX, where she performed with Comedy Sportz in Dallas before moving to Boston to study film at Emerson College. While in Boston, she became a member of of the comedy troupe "Jimmy's Traveling All Stars." She now lives in Los Angeles, where she recently is a paid regular at the Comedy Store and Improv comedy clubs and features around the country. In recent years she has won the Myspace "So You Think You're Funny" contest, has been featured on the G4, E! and The History Channel's "History of the Joke." Shlesinger also writes and stars in her own online news show on www.theStream.tv called "The Weakly News." She counts traveling to foreign countries to entertain troops as a career highlight, and says, "The best thing about being a comedian is I get to do what I love. Also, no one expects me to be anywhere before 8 p.m. at night!" She says, "I think I will be the 'Last Comic Standing' because I have the talent and showmanship to capture an audience and make them interested in me as a performer and what I'm saying….and I'm also adorable!"


Hometown: London, England
Currently resides in: London, England

Jim Tavaré attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, studying alongside Ralph Fiennes, Alex Kingston and Joely Richardson. After college he decided to try the comedy circuit in London and quickly made a name for himself with his dry delivery and trademark double bass. In addition to appearances on ITV"s "The Sketch Show," and his role as Tom the Innkeeper in the hit movie "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Tavaré also had his own comedy sketch series "The Jim Tavaré Show," which he co-wrote with Ricky Gervais ("The Office"). An episode of the NBC sitcom "Wings" was built around his bass act, and he also performed on A&E's "Caroline's Comedy Hour" and at the Improv in Los Angeles, the Showtime Montreal Gala and Aspen International Comedy Festival. Well respected as one of Prince Charles' favorite comedians, Tavaré has performed at the Prince's private Christmas party, and also performed at Highgrove in front of HM the Queen and 13 crowned heads of Europe. He has entertained troops in the Falkland Islands and had the honor of performing three times at the Royal Variety Performance. Tavaré says "5000 miles of Atlantic saltwater" sets him apart from the other comics, and predicts he'll be the "Last Comic Standing" "because I'm ready for a promotion."