'LAST COMIC' STAR: I OWE MY SUCCESS TO DRUGS & BOOZE!

Published on: July 9, 2003

"LAST COMIC Standing" contestant Rich Vos has revealed the key to his success on the hit NBC reality show: It's his secret past of addiction to booze and drugs!

In an exclusive interview with The ENQUIRER, the 46-year-old funnyman admitted that for years he was hooked on getting high, and he's convinced that scandalous time in his life serves him well on "Last Comic."

"It gives me more material," said the New Jersey comedian, who has been straight for 17 years now. "Plus it opens the door to more shows -- I do 'Twelve-Step' shows and fund-raisers and stuff and the audiences are great."

A stand-up comic for more than two decades, Vos draws on his life experiences for his routines. On the mean streets of a working-class suburb, he survived by cracking jokes and being tough, at least on the outside. He jokes that in school he was the class clown -- "when I showed up."

"And if you delve into my past," Vos told The ENQUIRER, "you'll find the same crap you'll find in everybody's. For me, it was both booze and drugs -- coke, whatever, it didn't matter.

"I finally completely surrendered to the fact that I can't beat it. I made the decision that I want NOT to get high more than I DO want to get high and I put myself into rehab."

A source who has known him for years told The ENQUIRER:

"I remember that at one point he even tried to sell his coat for drugs. It was that bad for him.

"Now I see him wearing a suit on 'Last Comic.' But underneath that suit he's got biker tattoos and his share of scars from those down years."

Since beating drugs, Vos -- a divorced father of two daughters -- has thrived, appearing in recent years on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," Comedy Central and "It's Showtime at the Apollo."

After starting out on June 10 among 20 contestants for "Last Comic," the comedian soon stood out as a favorite with judges and fans, surviving the first cut and moving into a raucous "Comic House" in Hollywood with nine other finalists.

The group will be whittled down to five finalists, who will compete live on July 29 when the show wraps up.

The winner, chosen by the show's audience, will get an exclusive talent contract with NBC -- and a chance at his or her own show.

NBC spokesman Cary Simons said background checks were done on all the "Last Comic" contestants, and that Vos was open about his past problems. Today, the comic goes regularly to Twelve-Step programs like Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous and works full-time to stay recovered.

"Once you make the decision that addiction's a no-win situation," Vos told The ENQUIRER, "it makes it easier to stay clean."