The winner of the 15th annual StandUp NBC comedy competition is Mike E. Winfield, who beat out 1,600 applicants to win the network’s annual search for comedians of diverse backgrounds.

Winfield has been awarded a talent holding deal with NBCUniversal and a headlining spot at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) annual convention, where he will perform for talent bookers from across the country. He will also headline the regional semi-finalist showcases for the 2019 StandUp NBC competition.

Baltimore native Winfield was chosen from eight finalists, including Vincent Bryant, Ali Clayton, Calvin Evans, Sohrab Forouzesh, Jay Jurden, Luz Pazos and Venessa Peruda. They were among 1,600 stand-up comedians who auditioned last year through online submissions and open calls in Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and New York.

Winfield and this year’s 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 last month 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.

Also in attendance were program alumni, including Tone Bell (Fam), JR De Guzman (Netflix’s The Comedy Line-up), Langston Kerman (Insecure) and Amanda Seales (Insecure) who marked the program’s milestone anniversary.

“Since its inception, StandUp NBC has forged a path for some of today’s most sought-after comedians,” said Karen Horne, SVP, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, 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.”

“StandUp NBC continues to showcase unique talent who have a signature comedic style. This year Mike Winfield stood out to all of us because of his appealing personality and irreverent point of view.” said Grace Wu, Executive Vice President of Casting, NBC Entertainment. “He is a breakout performer whose career we have been tracking for some time and we are very excited to be working with him.”

Winfield is a stand-up comedian and actor whose most recent credits include the Netflix comedy special Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, the upcoming feature Pimp opposite Keke Palmer, and Liza On Demand for YouTube Red. Now splitting his time between New York and Los Angeles, he has also headlined at top comedy clubs across the country and has a one-hour comedy special releasing this year. Winfield is represented by the Gersh Agency.