October 4, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 54°F


‘Last Comic’ in Ithaca

Iliza Shlesinger said she feels funniest, and prettiest, when her hair smells like a comedy club. She described that smell as a combination of “fried food and desperation,” during the season finale of “Last Comic Standing.”

And with the kickoff of a live tour, Shlesinger has many funny, pretty nights to look forward to. As the $250,000 grand-prize winner of the NBC show “Last Comic Standing,” the spirited, 25-year-old stand-up comedian not only received a new Honda, but also a talent deal with NBC, a featured act in Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!” at Bally’s in Las Vegas and a spot on the show’s live tour.

Shlesinger beat out the other four finalists — Marcus (runner-up), Jeff Dye, Jim Tavare and Louis Ramey — in the season finale, which aired Aug. 7. She is the youngest and first female to win the title in the six seasons of the show.

The comedians will once again share a stage. But instead of performing in the Las Vegas glitter, they are going to be downtown at the State Theatre of Ithaca at 8 p.m. today.

Dan Smalls of Dan Smalls Presents, the independent booking agency that works with the theater, is pleased the tour is coming through Ithaca.

“[The agency booking the tour] was looking to play some markets other than big cities,” he said. “So I said, ‘Let’s go!’”

Smalls is also the former executive director of the State Theatre. He said he used his contacts in Los Angeles to get the Emmy-nominated NBC show to Ithaca.

Since Ithaca is only the second stop on the multicity tour, after Prior Lake, Minnesota, Shlesinger and the four finalists will perform together on stage. Later in the tour, other comics from the show may replace some of the finalists on stage.

Senior Christina Citek is planning to see the show and said she’s excited it’s coming through Ithaca.

“It’ll be great to see the comedians live,” said Citek, who watched the show last season. “I’m especially looking forward to Iliza. Since she recently graduated, a lot of her jokes are about college life. A college town like Ithaca is a great stop for the tour.”

The State Theatre has been the host of numerous big-name comedians over the past few years, like Lewis Black, Brian Regan and Ron White of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.”

Despite past comedic successes, the initial ticket sales for the “Last Comic Standing” show were lower than expected. Smalls said this could be in part because students have only been in Ithaca for the last couple of weeks and may not be aware of the upcoming event.

“It’s a little early,” he said. “If I had the opportunity to do it a week later it would really help, it was just when the tour was routed properly for us.”

NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics cut short the final three weeks of “Last Comic Standing’s” season. Instead of two finalists in the finale, there were five. Marketing for the tour slowed, since the audience’s attention switched from “Last Comic Standing” to the Olympics.

“Originally, marketing was tailored to coincide with the show,” Smalls said. “Everyone forgot about the Olympics, so it kind of slowed things down.”

To combat these setbacks, the State Theatre is offering discounted student tickets at $25 each, which are available through the theater’s box office. The full price tickets are $29.50 for section D, $36.50 for sections A through C, and $42.50 for orchestra tickets.

“To drive it home in the last week I’ve been doing the $25 student tickets,” Smalls said. “Basically five bucks a comedian, you can’t beat it.”

Senior Dave Newberg said he watches the television show but doesn’t know if he’ll attend the live performance.

“I enjoy the program because it showcases upcoming talent,” said Newberg. “But recently it’s become a showcase of what would make [NBC] more money, which is good. It’s a good show.”

Tickets are available by calling (800) 919-6272 or at the State Theatre box office at 105 W. State St. Student tickets can be purchased for $25.