Fil-Am wins ‘StandUp NBC,’ a nationwide search for comedians

Awarded one-year talent holding deal with NBCUniversal 

A millennial Filipino American has won this year’s ‘StandUp NBC,’ a national search for stand-up comedians of diverse backgrounds.

JR De Guzman was selected from over 600 stand-up comedians who auditioned at open calls last year in New York City, San Diego, Nashville and Austin.

As part of his win, he has been awarded a one-year talent holding deal with NBCUniversal and a headlining spot later this month at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) annual convention where he will perform before talent bookers from across the country. He will also headline the regional semi-finalist showcases for this year’s ‘StandUp NBC.’

De Guzman — a musician and music teacher who was born in the Philippines and raised in California — said that he is “thankful and blessed” to have this opportunity.

“I really hope this is a win for the Filipino community and people of all diverse backgrounds,” he said in an interview with the Asian Journal on Thursday, February 9.

The Fil-Am, who mixes music into his comedy performances, shared how he would write jokes during class, which eventually inspired him to take a course on stand-up while at UC Davis.

He first auditioned for ‘StandUp NBC’ back in 2013 early on in his stand-up career but didn’t feel as prepared. He eventually returned to the competition in 2016 with a “really good feeling about doing this,” he said.

De Guzman detailed the process that entailed three early rounds of doing stand-up for a few minutes. Nine finalists were then chosen for the finale showcase hosted by comedian and ‘StandUp NBC’ alumnus Orlando Leyba at The Improv in Hollywood.

He and the other finalists performed their sets in front of an audience of television executives, casting directors, agents, managers and industry tastemakers, a release from NBCUniversal Talent Infusion Programs said.

“JR is a unique comic talent who impressed us with his presence and genuine optimism,” said Grace Wu, executive vice president of casting at NBC Entertainment, in a statement. “I am grateful that our pipeline programs like ‘StandUp NBC’ continue to introduce us to fresh new voices who will widen the breadth of talent for our shows.”

During his routines, De Guzman integrates a lot of “jokes about [his] family and culture.”

“Filipinos are just so funny naturally that…it’s too easy to get material from my family or coming back from the Philippines, I’ll get a bunch of new material,” he said, adding that his father is another key source of humor.

Recently, De Guzman appeared on Hulu’s “Coming to the Stage,” Comedy Central’s “Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City” and MTV’s “Acting Out.” He has also traveled around the world to perform, including for Stand-Up Tokyo and ROR Comedy in Japan, the Jokers Ball in Indonesia, the Badaboom Comedy Series in Amsterdam and the Edmonton Comedy Festival.

In addition to auditioning for pilot season and participating in the other events associated with his win, he is looking forward to releasing his debut comedy album, “Dual Citizen,” on February 24.

“It’s very fitting — it talks about growing up Filipino in America,” he said.

“…I think it’s important for other Filipinos interested in [comedy] to see someone else doing it and see that it’s an option,” he added. “Being Filipino on the comedy side of it motivated me to hopefully one day be a role model for other Filipinos, like [those] striving to be comedians, entertainers or performers in some ways.”

Now in its 13th year, previous ‘StandUp NBC’ winners and alumni include Deon Cole (“Black-ish”, “Angie Tribeca”), Ron Funches (“Powerless”), Tone Bell (Netflix’s upcoming comedy “Disjointed,” “Truth Be Told”), W. Kamau Bell (CNN’s “United Shades of America”), Lil Rel Howery (“The Carmichael Show”) and Brandon T. Jackson (“Deadbeat,” “Tropic Thunder”).

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is an award-winning editor and communications strategist based in Los Angeles with experience in content, strategy and branding for media ecosystems, inclusive fintech startups, small businesses and direct-to-consumer products.

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