Each season, NBC talent scouts Ross Mark and Bob Read set out to hold auditions to find the next contestants for NBC's Last Comic Standing. Once Mark and Read find suitable candidates, the candidates are asked to come back and participate in a performance in front of a live audience. After each live performance, Mark and Read choose a predetermined number of performers to come back for a semifinal round of Last Comic Standing. Throughout the semifinal round, the contestants are split up into two groups and compete against each other at the Alex Theatre in Los Angeles. During the semi-finals, a panel of celebrity judges combined with several of the shows' producers vote on who will advance to the final qualifying round or be "in the house."
Once the finalists for NBC's Last Comic Standing have been chosen, they compete in a different challenge each week. Previous challenges that have been held include performing stand-up at a local laundromat, working as a tour guide in Los Angeles, participating in a roast at the Friars Club of Beverly Hills, and performing comedy on a specific subject with little preparation on a live radio show. The elimination is similar to that of Survivor, where the winner is given "immunity" and cannot be eliminated from the show the following week. For the Last Comic Standing contestants that do not get voted off, there is a live head-to-head challenge. Each remaining contestant must choose another contestant who they think they are funnier than. During the live head-to-head challenge, the Last Comic Standing contestants compete in front of a live audience; when the performance is over, the entire audience participates in a vote for the best comedian. The losing comic gets eliminated from the competition.
Once the Last Comic Standing competition has been reduced to five contestants, instead of participating in challenges, the contestants perform each week in front of the audience. The voting each week also now includes the national television audience. Just like many other competition reality shows, each week the Last Comic Standing contestant with the lowest amount of votes gets eliminated from the show and the winner at the end is considered the "Last Comic Standing."