Tom Cotter: ‘AGT’ Runner-Up Films NBC Pilot, Hosts ‘Gotham Comedy Live’

“I have shot pilots before that have not gone to air, so the jaded, bitter comic in me is just moving on. If it goes, it goes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Tom Cotter on 'America's Got Talent'

Tom Cotter will host ‘Gotham Comedy Live’ February 13 on AXS TV.

Tom Cotter is hoping to make a triumphant return to television.

The AMERICA’S GOT TALENT runner-up — and father of three — recently filmed a pilot for a new kid-friendly variety show.

“We shot the pilot in November with Fremantle, which is the company behind AMERICA’S GOT TALENT and AMERICAN IDOL and a bunch of other shows,” he tells me.

“It’s a kids show.  NBC owns it — they paid for the pilot — so they have right of first refusal.  So they are looking at it.  I had heard that NBC didn’t want to run with it, but that other networks under the NBC umbrella will have a first go at it.

“I have shot pilots before that have not gone to air, so the jaded, bitter comic in me is just moving on.  If it goes, it goes.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

In the meantime, Cotter, 49, is set to host this Thursday’s installment of GOTHAM COMEDY LIVE on AXS TV.

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“I am honored that they wanted me,” he says.  “I would have done it just as a comic, but it is even better as a host!  It is a lot of fun, too, because it is live and I can say whatever the hell I want.   Not that I am [Andrew] “Dice” Clay.  But I am also not Bill Cosby.  So I don’t have to worry about offending anybody.

“I decided this time… I have worn a jacket and tie or at least a sport coat the last five times I have been on television and I felt like I am being portrayed as a really stodgy, uptight, middle-aged white dude.  So this time, I am gonna let it go and just wear a shirt.  And I might even let a few foul words flow out of my mouth.”

Here’s what else Tom had to share when we spoke yesterday:

What has life been like for you after ‘AGT’?
It has been ridiculous. It has been really, really, really good. There are a lot of guys like me who are flying below the radar, who are pretty humorous guys that are out on cruise ships or playing the Chuckle Hut in Nebraska. But when you get on that show… I just got really lucky. I stepped in unicorn crap and have been riding it ever since. I thought this would all go away, but for some reason the people who are handling me are keeping the balls in the air. These things can fade. I have seen it. Guy wins LAST COMIC STANDING and two years later he is a distant memory. So we are trying…

You tried by not winning LAST COMIC STANDING!
[laughs] My wife went further than I did on that show. I am reminded of that every time we have an argument.

Your wife, Ferri Louise, also tried out for AGT last year — but we never saw her on TV.  What happened?
Heidi and both Howards liked my wife.  Mel B. did not.  But the three of them trumped her — and they said “You’re going to Vegas.”  So Kerri got all excited and did the whole going out shopping, getting a lot of stuff, dieting her ass off.  Then a week before she is supposed to go to Vegas they call her up and say “You are not going.”  She was completely devastated.  But they do that every year.  They film way more than they need.  Then they thin the heard.  In reality they can’t have too many similar people.  They told us different things.  I had heard it was because she had done the Howard Stern Show and she had now a relationship with one of the judges and that was [considered] impropriety.  But what we suspect is that there was another comic on last year who was also a housewife.  Same age as Keri.  Same number of children.  She was also a brunette..  Kerri and I secretly suspect that had something to do with it.

Will she try again this year?
No.  She did not try again.  She was so devastated last year that she did not even reach out to them.

You are are still doing lots of club dates?
I am doing a lot of them. I was in Erie, PA two weeks ago and I called my agent and said “How much do you hate me?” It was like four degrees before the windchill factor. Then, I swear to God, I am booked in Phoenix. Arizona in August. Apparently the surface of the sun was already booked.

Hey, at least you are working!
February 2014 is my best month economically ever. That is how far ahead they book these corporate events. And the corporate events pay the most money. They have the deepest pockets. So the trickle down from AGT is still happening. I have stuff booked in 2015 for people that contacted us right after the show.

Be honest — are cruise ship gigs really that bad?
You know, I hate to besmirch them because they paid bills for many years. Here is the order [of profitability]: corporate, college, cruise ships, casinos and comedy clubs. Cruise ships pay you a lot of money because of the hassle. You usually have to fly overnight to some God forsaken place then get on the ship, do maybe one or two shows, then you are sitting around twiddling your thumbs for a week before you get off at some other port and fly home. Also, you are completely off the radar. If there is some last second great audition, you are screwed. They are not sending a helicopter for you. It is basically where comedians careers go to die. But they pay pretty well and I would not be opposed to doing them in the future — just not now.

Have you ever broken down at sea?
No. But I have been on the ship when we had to wait at port and watch the gurney be wheeled off to the [coroner]. And I also have been on them when there was an outbreak of the Norwalk [virus] but I didn’t get it.

And people think you don’t have a dangerous job!
Oh, please… I have been chased into the parking lot by people who wanted to punch the hell out of me.

People I may have offended in the crowd or said something to and then they want to kick the shit out of me!

GOTHAM LIVE airs Thursday, February 13 at 10:00 PM ET on AXS TV.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly