NBC has unveiled comedians Franqi French and Rene Vaca as the winners of its 16th annual StandUp NBC competition. This marks the first time in the program’s 16-year history that two winners have been chosen in a single year.
StandUp NBC is an annual search for comedians of diverse backgrounds and French and Vaca have taken the crown and will each receive 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 across the country and online submissions.
French, Vaca and this year’s finalists are in great company as they join an impressive roster of StandUp alumni including 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.
French regularly performs coast to coast with appearances at the DC Improv, Kennedy Center, Hollywood Improv and the world-famous Comedy Store. She has shared the stage with Donnell Rawlings, Fortune Feimster, Todd Glass, D.L. Hughley and Nicole Byer. In addition, 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.
A Los Angeles native, Vaca started his own landscape business at the age of 15 after his father was incarcerated. He went on to attended the University of California, Merced and has since been pursuing his dream in stand-up comedy. He has shared the stage with Willie Barcena, Bill Burr, Ken Jeong, Amir K., Jamie Kennedy and Joey Medina. He is actively seeking representation.