Nationwide Search for Comedians of Diverse Backgrounds Awards Pair with NBCUniversal Talent Holding Deals
Competition Makes History by Choosing Two Winners in Its 16th Year
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – Jan. 14, 2019 – NBC has crowned comedians Franqi French and Rene Vaca as the winners of its 16th annual StandUp NBC competition, the network’s annual nationwide search for comedians of diverse backgrounds. This marks the first time in the celebrated program’s 16-year history that two winners have been chosen in a single year.
French and Vaca have each been awarded a talent holding deal with NBCUniversal and a headlining spot at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) annual convention where they will perform for talent bookers from across the country. They will also split the responsibility of headlining the regional semifinalist showcases in five cities across the country at next year’s StandUp NBC.
“Franqi and Rene were standouts in our showcase this year. They are hilarious, relatable and fearlessly share their personal stories. We couldn’t choose just one winner, so we decided to name them both,” said Grace Wu, Executive Vice President of Casting, NBC Entertainment. “We are excited for Franqi and Rene to join the rich legacy of comedic talent who have emerged from StandUp NBC.”
French and Vaca were chosen from eight finalists, including Mike Head, Pedro Gonzalez, Katie Hughes, Andre D. Thompson, Sam Morrison and Kenice Mobley, all of whom will be considered for feature spots at NACA. They were among 650 stand-up comedians who auditioned last year through open calls in Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and New York as well as online submissions.
French, Vaca and this year’s finalists join Michelle Buteau (“The First Wives Club”), Deon Cole (“Grown-ish,”), Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Hasan Minhaj (“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”), Phoebe Robinson (“2 Dope Queens”), Amanda Seales (“Bring the Funny”) and Dulcé Sloan (“The Daily Show”) as alumni of StandUp NBC.
A finale showcase hosted by NBC “Bring the Funny” finalist and comedian Tacarra Williams was held at the Improv in Hollywood late last year. The finalists performed their sets in front of an audience of NBCUniversal television executives, casting directors, agents, managers and industry tastemakers.
An award-winning talent, Franqi French regularly performs coast to coast with appearances at the DC Improv, Kennedy Center, Hollywood Improv and the world-famous Comedy Store. French has shared the stage with Donnell Rawlings, Fortune Feimster, Todd Glass, D.L. Hughley and Nicole Byer, among other talented comedians. She has made guest appearances on WeTV, TVOne’s “The Roland Martin Show,” and has headlined the Bentzen Ball as well as the Black Women in Comedy Festival in Brooklyn. She is currently based in Los Angeles and is actively seeking representation.
Rene Vaca was born and raised in the Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. After his father was incarcerated, he started his own landscaping business at 15 and soon attended the University of California, Merced. Vaca has since been pursuing his dream in stand-up comedy and has shared the stage with revered industry comedians such as Willie Barcena, Bill Burr, Ken Jeong, Amir K., Jamie Kennedy and Joey Medina. He is actively seeking representation.
ABOUT STANDUP NBC (NBC TALENT INFUSION PROGRAMS)
Now in its 16th year, StandUp NBC is the annual nationwide search for stand-up comedians of diverse backgrounds. Every year finalists are selected from open casting calls in various cities across the country as well as from online submissions. They perform at a finale showcase in front of an audience of television executives, casting directors, agents, managers and industry tastemakers at a Los Angeles comedy club. The winner is given a talent holding deal with NBCUniversal and offered a spot on the nationwide tour with the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). Previous StandUp NBC winners and alumni include Tone Bell (“Little”), Michelle Buteau (“The First Wives Club”), W. Kamau Bell (CNN’s “United Shades of America”), Deon Cole (“Grown-ish”), Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Hasan Minhaj (“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”), Amanda Seales (“Insecure”) and Dulcé Sloan (“The Daily Show”). StandUp NBC is part of the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS) that promote and encourage people of diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of storytellers. For more information, visit NBCUniTIPS.com.
ABOUT THE NBC TALENT INFUSION PROGRAMS (NBC TIPS)
Since 2000, NBC has been dedicated to discovering and nurturing on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds through the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS). NBC TIPS are amongst the most extensive and robust diversity and inclusion programs in the television industry. They feature more than 20 programs, including Writers on the Verge, Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, Female Forward, Alternative Directors Program, Emerging Director Program and the StandUp NBC nationwide search for stand-up comedians. Program alumni are celebrated producers, writers, directors and actors in the entertainment industry who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards and include Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Keto Shimizu, Natasha Rothwell, Danny Pudi and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. For more information, visit NBCUniTIPS.com.
Dupe Bosu, Dupe.Bosu@nbcuni.com, 818-777-9356
Vanessa Pearce, Vanessa.Pearce@nbcuni.com, 818-777-3966