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If you don’t know comedian Mike E. Winfield, he at least wants to make sure that you say his name correctly.
“Mike … pause … E … pause… Winfield,” said the excitable Baltimore native, the winner of the 15th annual StandUp NBC comedy competition.
Winfield beat out 1,600 applicants during the peacock network’s annual search for comedians from diverse backgrounds.
“It was incredible,” Winfield said. “I try to feel like a winner on a daily basis but when someone hands you a trophy, it just legitimizes you and I haven’t stopped grinning since that day.”
For his triumph, Winfield received a talent holding deal with NBC Universal and a headlining spot at the National Association for Campus Activities annual convention, where he will perform for talent bookers from across the country.
It means the up-and-coming comic will have an opportunity to achieve his dreams of superstardom with a much larger audience than he’s ever had.
Also, because he won the competition, Winfield will headline the regional semifinalist showcases for the 2019 StandUp NBC competition later this year.
“Since its inception, StandUp NBC has forged a path for some of today’s most sought-after comedians,” said Karen Horne, senior vice president of programming talent development and inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “Following the program, many of our finalists have appeared in substantial roles on notable TV series and feature films as well as hosted their own stand-up specials on major networks. Their continued success speaks to their undeniable talent as well as the effectiveness of our program to help launch emerging comedic talent.”
A total of 1,600 stand-up comedians auditioned last year through online submissions and open calls in Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and New York.
Winfield and fellow finalists join Michelle Buteau (“Isn’t It Romantic?”), Deon Cole (“Grown-ish”), Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Hasan Minhaj (“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”), Phoebe Robinson (“2 Dope Queens”), and Dulcé Sloan (“The Daily Show”) as alumni of StandUp NBC, one of the network’s tentpole talent infusion programs.
A special celebratory event honoring the program’s 15th anniversary and a finale showcase hosted by comedian and StandUp NBC alumnus Orlando Leyba (“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”) were held in December at The Improv in Hollywood.
The finalists performed their sets in front of an audience of NBCUniversal television executives, casting directors, agents, managers and industry tastemakers.
Winfield credits his success to his Charm City upbringing.
“Baltimore molded who I am,” he said. “I have thick skin and I believe in myself more than anyone else.”
Winfield said he’s always allowed everyone else to talk, but he prides himself on being a risk-taker.
“I’m attracted to thrills and that’s how I got here,” he said. “My Baltimore surroundings and the energy from hip-hop has been a driving factor — [going] from rags to riches has fueled me to want more than what I was raised with. The sky is the limit.”