07/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
NBC (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)
"Ten comics living in a house together," muses one of them, Minnesota-based Dave Mordal. "It's just going to be a matter of time before either everybody gets used to it or somebody snaps and kills somebody." NBC is clearly banking on the latter. In the June 24 episode of this nine-week talent contest (in which the winner will get an NBC talent contract), there is no love lost between Sean Kent, a cocky, Stetson-wearing stand-up from Austin, and Rich Vos, an in-your-face comedy club veteran from New Jersey. In fact, Vos tells Kent, "I dislike you immensely." So, it seems, does everyone else in the house, an L.A. mansion. By episode's end, the Texan is voted out by a studio audience after he loses a monologue duel to the wry, laid-back Mordal. Too bad there isn't more onstage action, which is when these folks are at their funniest. Instead, we get to see them being insecure, neurotic and nasty in a format that freely borrows from Big Brother (cameras capture every put-down) and Survivor (the housemates form sneaky alliances). Out of this dark crucible America's brightest new comic is supposed to emerge? I'm not hopeful.
BOTTOM LINE: A walk on the sour side of stand-up