Stand up, be recognized

The Baltimore Sun

Amy Schumer transformed into a Baltimorean during her college years at Towson University. A 2003 graduate, Schumer never imagined that four years later she would be returning to Charm City to perform stand-up comedy as one of the top four on NBC's Last Comic Standing.

As a theater major, she appeared on stage at Towson in such productions as Stop Kiss, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie. Born in Manhattan and having grown up in Long Island, Schumer began performing in New York comedy clubs about a year after graduating, quickly realizing that her theater experience helped her feel comfortable in front of the mike. Now, after less than four years in the game, she will be performing in a city she loves so much, at a venue she attended so many times.

NBC's Last Comic Standing Live Tour comes to the Lyric Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Part of a 42-city tour, the show will feature five of the 10 finalists from the fifth season of the recently concluded reality competition. Along with Schumer, comics include Ralph Harris, Lavell Crawford, Doug Benson and Gerry Dee.

"I'm just about to find out how it's gonna be to do shows where people know me," Schumer said. "The show didn't make me think I'm any funnier, and I'm happy for that."

Always the class clown growing up, Schumer attributes her comfort level on stage to her acting experience. "I like the same thing [about comedy] I like about theater," she said. "It's evoking emotion from a lot of people."

Harris, a Philadelphia native and 22-year veteran of stand-up comedy, will also return to Baltimore with a level of recognition he did not have during his last extended stay here.

Placing fifth in the competition, the character-driven comic worked at the Comedy Factory Outlet and Slapsticks in Baltimore in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While he has appeared in Dreamgirls and Evan Almighty, starred in the ABC sitcom On Our Own and had two cable comedy specials, Harris said that Last Comic has provided a level of exposure for him like never before.

"I'm doing major business, and most people and shows know me," he said. "You can't pay for exposure like that." Despite his other ventures into entertainment, he said he will always consider himself a comedian first.

Though he originally did not like the idea of comics competing, Harris said stand-up as a whole wins from it. The tour shows, he said, will be more fun now that the competition is over. "There'll be stuff we couldn't do on the network, and the camaraderie," Harris said. "There's no voting on and off, just us having a good time."

Schumer remembers her college years spent attending shows at The Lyric and frequenting Orioles games, Power Plant and Mount Vernon bars and the Inner Harbor. "I immersed myself in Baltimore," she said. "It's really one of my top 2 favorite cities."

Harris also anticipates the trip to the city that greatly reminds him of his hometown. "Baltimore is gonna be hot," he said. "It's gonna be hard for us not to party all the time."

The Last Comic Standing Live Tour starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The Lyric Opera House is at 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $19-$44. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to

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