Roseanne Barr Returns to ‘Last Comic Standing’ for Another Round of Big Laughs

Roseanne Barr on Last Comic Standing
Ben Cohen/NBC
Roseanne Barr on Last Comic Standing

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. NBC’s reality competition Last Comic Standing is back to rescue a fresh roster of jokesters from the clutches of comedy-club obscurity. But earning a shot at the $250K grand-prize package—including a TV development deal—is no laughing matter: But first, the contestants will have to crack wise for the likes of sitcom legend Roseanne Barr. Here, the returning judge clues us in on the funny business.

Last year, you seemed pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the comics. Has the bar gotten higher?

We were hoping that comics would see how good last season was and be excited about getting on the show, and that’s exactly what happened. I don’t want to say better, but we did attract a new kind of comic.

What’s the key to success in this setting?

Big laughs close together—it’s pretty simple. Plus, being able to connect with the audience, and feel the gravity that this is on television, is where the star quality comes in.

This season, you and fellow vet Keenen Ivory Wayans (In Living Color) are joined by two more comics: Saturday Night Live alum Norm Macdonald on the judging panel and comedy-circuit staple Anthony Jeselnik as the host. What do they bring to the mix?

We were all blown away by Anthony. I would watch for him alone! His writing is fierce, and he really gives it to us judges—he didn’t treat us like big stars. Norm’s judging style is unlike anything people have ever seen. If he doesn’t like someone, he’ll tell them they suck. It’s hilarious! He makes me look like Paula [Abdul]!

Were you and the other judges mostly in agreement?

With two guys, I didn’t always get what I wanted—but I don’t think they did, either. We all feel that the right person won.

You were in the news recently for revealing that you have glaucoma and macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Does laughter help a difficult situation?

It’s not that difficult. It’s a slow process, and I’m used to it. I take eye vitamins…I’m fine!

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Last Comic Standing, Season premiere, Wednesday, July 22, 9/8c, NBC