By the time you read this, you’ll know that Ian Bagg, one of the finalists in the popular NBC show “Last Comic Standing,” did not win . . . a fact that he’s been sharing on his Twitter feed for some time now. But it doesn’t matter, because along with Michael Palascak, Dominique, Andy Erikson and Clayton English, Mr. Bagg has made it onto the Last Comic Standing tour that pulls into Chumash Casino Resort on Thursday.
It’s part of a whopping 78-date, 90-day tour that ends just before New Years, and will introduce these already seasoned comics to a much wider audience.
“I didn’t do the show to win it, I did the show for people to see me who had never seen me before,” Mr. Bagg says. “I was surprised how far I got, as I’m not really built for that kind of show.”
“Last Comic Standing” is similar to American Idol and Top Chef, with a panel of celebrity judges – in this case Norm Macdonald, Roseanne Barr and Keenen Ivory Wayans – whittling down a group of 20 hopeful comics. The grand prize is $250,000, but the tour for the runners-up isn’t bad.
“Seventy-eight shows is going to bring me more fans,” he says.
Mr. Bagg’s comedy is irreverent and rude and absolutely hilarious, delivered rapid-fire. He works the crowd too, having conversations and poking fun when he can – “but never to look down on them,” he says. It’s a style that developed out of his first years in open mics, where talking to folks calmed his nerves.
“I think it comes from growing up, when we had to take buses to play these hockey matches,” he says. “And we’d all chirp each other, just having a good time, not to take anybody down, but mocking somebody so they’d say something back and so on and by the time you’re all done it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever been involved with.”
Raised in the wilds of Terrace, Canada, 750 miles north of Vancouver, comedy was the last thing on his mind growing up, though he loved his Bill Cosby and Jonathan Winters albums. “They created something that I could see in my head, and I knew that I loved my mind going there,” he says.
After high school he traveled Australia, his mother’s home country, then returned to Canada where he spent three years working in a mine, “learning how to blow things up.”
“It was the most amazing time ever, being that young and blowing things up,” he says. He almost went to college in Vancouver to continue that love with a job in blasting engineering, but an open mic called to him and the rest is comedy’s gain.
“I had never been to a club or seen live comedy,” Mr. Bagg said. “So when I finally got to Vancouver I went to a club called Punchline and there was a contest so I went on. I had all my jokes written on my hand, but I was so nervous they all rubbed off. So I ended up having a conversation with the crowd and doing impressions of fish I grew up with, and I never went to school.”
Does he ever think of an alternative life where he continued into demolition, instead of just demolishing people with laughter?
“I watch that show Gold Rush and I just shake my head at what those guys are up to,” he laughs. “But that’s what I tell my friends, I make better money and I’ve got all my fingers.”
Last Comic Standing Tour
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 East Highway 246, Santa Ynez
Information: 800-248-6274, www.chumashcasino.com