Finalist on ‘America’s Got Talent’ tries out Suncoast

Tom Cotter has played both the comedy clubs and a big room on the Strip. But this weekend in the suburbs is his first Las Vegas billing as a headliner.

Cotter used to work the comedy rooms at the Riviera or Tropicana, which are usually sold by format rather than audience familiarity with the stand-ups on the bill.

Then came “America’s Got Talent.” Cotter was a finalist in 2012, so he got to host the live version of “Talent” that settled at the Palazzo that fall.

“As an entertainer, being on the Strip does not suck,” he says. Even though the Palazzo show did not perform to long-term expectations, Cotter says his window of fame from “AGT” has not yet closed.

Though he has been on “The Tonight Show” and Comedy Central, “There’s nothing like prime-time network television to have that many people see you,” he says. “There’s no other venue for that. There’s been no other show that let comedians display their wares in front of that many people.”

But this weekend’s Suncoast engagement gives people a chance to see him do a full show, which in itself is a challenge.

Cotter is a rapid-fire, one-liner comedian, which gave him a competitive edge on “Talent.”

“My style is built for the show. In 90 seconds I can cram a lot of my material in there,” he says. “My wife (Kerri Louise) is a stand-up comic and kind of a storyteller, as many comics are, and it takes her three minutes to say hello to the audience. It’s a different style.”

But moving up to headliner bookings, “I kind of have to mix it up,” he says. “I find myself doing impressions for a little chunk or chatting with the crowd a little.”

His agent has even coaxed him to put his guitar skills to work on song parodies, or to try ventriloquism. But neither suggestion has yet made it into the act.

With Terry Fator already on the Strip, Vegas probably isn’t big enough for two “AGT” ventriloquists.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at or 702-383-0288.