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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last Comic Standing, the dead blog

Last Comic Standing has risen from the ashes. The buzz is largely positive, despite the fact the ratings sucked. Maybe they shouldn’t put it up against the behemoth that is The Bachelorette. That’ll learn ‘em.

I haven’t yet watched it, but I’ve got it on PVR. I figure I’ve got a blog dedicated to comedy so why not do a fake-live blog as I watch? What a grand idea! Maybe in future weeks I’ll post it the same night it airs. Or maybe it’ll just fizzle out. But whatever. I’m firing up the PVR right now. Won’t you pretend to watch it with me?

Here we go:

“LAst Comic Standing is back. I bet you’re wondering how the hell did that happen?” sings the host, Craig Robinson, sitting at a keyboard wearing a smoking jacket and ascot. It’s already better!

I was just going to say I’ve never seen or heard of this guy before but he just told us he’s been on The Office and in Hot Tub Time Machine... Nope, still haven’t seen him. But that’s on me, not him.

I love the judges this season: Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo. Finally some judges who are funny. No knock on Ant or those two dudes from The Tonight Show, but... No wait, that was a knock on Ant and those two dudes from The Tonight Show. They were horrible. And Leggero’s cleavage in the upcoming highlights is exquisite.

We see the usual assortment of crazies camping out for an audition. It’s not gonna happen, people. We all know the ones to advance have all been pre-selected. That is, they don’t have to wait in line to audition with the riff-raff. They’re given appointments. But whatever. It’s a show.

Giraldo says he looks for honesty and for people who’ve suffered a little. Then we see a clip of him joking about texting. You know, because it’s so true and honest. Who hasn’t suffered trying to decipher a text or clumsily write one with their thumbs?

Leggero is looking for material, point of view and performance. That’s more like it. Just like Kindler, who says he’s open to anything as long as it comes from them. Agree completely.

Funny seeing Kindler involved. I should dig up the quotes from an interview I did with him years ago where he completely trashed the show.

The first contestant is pretty good and the judges are generous, constructive and funny in their comments. Nice. Now let’s see how they react to a brutal comic.

The next guy isn’t horrible, but not good, either. Giraldo and Leggero laugh, but seem to be laughing at him, not with him. Kindler is stoic, rain or shine, comedically speaking. But the guys like him and push him through.

The next guy is dressed up in a red devil costume and has a guitar. It’s a unanimous no. But again, it’s a funny and generous no, as opposed to years past when they were just mean.

One guy, Kirk Fox, withdraws on stage and still gets pushed through. I’m liking the show so far. Mostly because of the judges, but that’s okay with me. Kindler’s killing it. No surprise there, but maybe it is. Do some think he’s trying to upstage the contestants? I don’t, but I wonder if some sensitive souls not familiar with his comedy might.

***

We get to know some of the contestants who make it through to the evening’s competition: Fortune Feimster is funnier than her material, but Leggero says she exhibited “great joke writing”... L’il Rel grew up with the craziest teachers in the world... Marc Ryan got funny as soon as he got into it with Natasha, calling her Nancy. Or maybe it was just the awkwardness of the situation that I found funny. I have no idea if he made it through, but I doubt it... Kevin Small was an older Texan who hadn’t been doing stand-up long. The judges were iffy but sent him through anyway. Kindler pointed out the one joke structure I hate, too. In Small’s case, it was him being teased mercilessly about his name and how it relates to the size of his penis. The punchline being that it was his dad that said it. I love a good misdirection joke, but not that structure. The funniest thing was this little kick he did that the judges laughed at, so he kept doing it. Can’t wait to see how many kicks he does that night... Cathy Ladman was there! She has been around forever and is really, really funny. Sometimes it’s weird who ends up on these shows. But that’s what happens when you open it up to pros and amateurs... Rob Delaney also moved on, as did Shane Mauss, David Feldman (he’s got a great podcast, by the way), and a tall, skinny, bespectacled drink of water named Jacob Sirof.

***

More contestants: Guy Torry was friends with the judges. But while they brought him back, they didn’t give ringing endorsements, which is encouraging to see. Natasha gives a no and both Kindler and Giraldo are iffy. They think he’s better than his material... A live female version of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, named Edith Piaf, is just odd. Not horrible, but just oddly amusing. Not enough to be invited back, though... Taylor Williamson is okay. He says he’s learned some things about New York, such as pretty girls on subways don’t talk to young extremely talented up-and-coming comedians... There were more but that’s all you need to know. Especially so much after the fact.

***

Showcase night 1.

We get to see a bit more of the comics and see how they do to a room full of people instead of just three judges. There was some good material. I’m not sure how many will advance, but I’ll make my picks.
  • Felipe Esparza sleeps with large women because he’s Mexican. Blah.
  • The large Fortune Feimster makes a Precious joke off the top. Not sure about her stand-up but I think she could be a break-out star. Sign her to SNL. She’s just funny and larger than life.
  • Rob Delaney. Judging from what we saw, meh.
  • L’il Rel does really good character work. Again, don’t know about his stand-up but sign him up for SNL.
  • Kevin Small died. Absolutely bit it. Thing is, for a guy who’s only been doing stand-up since November, his delivery was quite good. As for the material, that takes more work. A lot more.
  • Laurie Kilmartin had some good and sick baby material. We’re used to the male perspective of hating their own kids, thanks to Louis CK, but it’s even sicker when the nurturing mother does it. Sick in a good way. Funny stuff. People think Britney Spears is dumb. “No, she lost custody; she’s a genius.”
  • Jacob Sirof did Jewish material that was pretty good. Jews don’t feel they’re better than everyone else; “God does. And that’s in your book, too.”
So out of those brief clips, I’d put through Feimster, Rel, Kilmartin and Sirof, not knowing exactly how many can be put through.

***

Continuing with the showcase.
  • Kirk Fox. The guy who tried to sabotage his own advancement. He’s a funny guy with a funny moustache. I bet he’d make a good comedic actor if he can act. His voice sounds a bit like Larry David.
  • Taylor Williamson talked about his grandparents’ parents, who were first cousins. I can relate. Can you imagine the wedding? I think it would go a little something like... this (he didn’t set it up that way): Everyone sitting on one side of the aisle. Funny.
  • David Feldman got political. I love a comic who can make his point by taking the opposite point of view to show the ridiculousness of it all. He said Obama destroyed America. “Remember how perfect this place was before he was president?” Beautifully succinct.
  • Amy Claire. She looks familiar but I don’t know why. She’s dating doctor so she has a strong chance of accidentally getting pregnant. I like her persona.
  • Maronzio Vance buys his Rice Krispees at the 99 cent store. The judges are laughing more than I think they should.
  • Cathy Ladman. Hitler jokes! She’s hilarious. She imagines Eva Braun’s boyfriends before Hitler and what jerks they must have been. She marvels at their happy union when she and her husband are in therapy. “My husband’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong. But let me tell you something: he’s no Hitler.”
  • Guy Torry didn’t elevate his material like the judges asked him to, in my opinion.
  • Shane Mauss. Not bad but material is kinda generic. Meh.
The judges deliberate, but they still don’t say how many are moving on. From this group, I’d put forward Fox, Williamson, Feldman and Ladman.

So to recap, I’d advance Fortune Feimster, L’il Rel, Laurie Kilmartin, Jacob Sirof, Kirk Fox, Taylor Williamson, David Feldman and Cathy Ladman. That’s eight. If it’s fewer than that, then they probably don’t go with the older comics because I’m sure the producers have some say, meaning Feldman and/or Ladman would be goners.

***

The deliberations are over and the results are in:
  1. Felipe Esparza. Really? Jesus, I’m oh-for one.
  2. David Feldman. That’s a win for old guys with hairplugs everywhere. But he’s deserving. One-for-two. Fifty percent.
  3. Maronzio Vance. Seriously? I’m losing faith in Kindler, Leggero and Giraldo. One-for-three.
  4. Shane Mauss. One-for-four. I suck at this.
  5. Guy Torry. One-for-five. This is getting ridiculous.
  6. Kirk Fox. Two-for-six.
  7. Jacob Sirof. Three-for-seven. Inching back to respectability.
  8. Taylor Williamson. Four-for-eight. I know, I only picked seven, but I’m claiming whoever I can at this point.
  9. L’il Rel. Five-for-nine. Back over 50 percent!
  10. Fortune Feinster. Six-for-ten.
  11. Laurie Kilmartin. Seven-for-eleven.
I guess that means seven of my eight picks made it through to the semis. I’m better than I thought I was. I wish they would have told us ahead of time how many would advance, but oh well. Gone are Cathy Ladman (for shame), Rob Delaney, Kevin Small, and Amy Claire. Only four didn’t make it? That seems high.

***

L.A. auditions, day 2. Everyone’s lined up in the rain. I thought it never rained in southern California. So much for truth in lyrics.

Rachel Feinstein has been doing stand-up for 11 years. She can do voices but I’m not so sure about her material. But the judges say yes... Michael J. Herbert arrives with a ridiculous mohawk and goes straight into a not bad joke. But the panel is thrown by his coif. They think he needs to address it right away. And because he doesn’t, he’s not advancing. At least, that was the impression they gave... And then we see the usual assortment of freaks and weirdos: jugglers, alien warriors, chicken impressions, shirtless fat guys, a sasquatch on stilts, none of whom advanced... Lastly was a fetching young Ethiopian Jew from South Central Los Angeles named Tiffany Haddish. Great attitude. I’m predicting she’s going to the semis right now.

***

Robinson is a great host. He’s easy-going and comfortable and, bottom line, funny without trying too hard.

The auditions continue.

Chip Pope describes himself as a big homo, so he’s got to advance, right? They don’t have a gay comic yet. They’ve got to cover all the bases... Cristela Alonzo gets the judges laughing at her suicidal ramblings... Chris Fairbanks talked about Campbell’s soup and got a big laugh just because he screwed up the name. I think he got a yes but I’m not sure... Christina Pazsitsky had a joke about eyelashes that Legarro loved. She’s coming back... Skippy Greene was a character with a cigar, hat, big glasses, and a moustache doing old-timey jokes. Kindler said no, Giraldo said yes, and I’m not sure what Leggero said. We’ll see, I guess... And Jonathan Thymius had a good joke about being mugged. He had no money so the mugger got him a job. “Now he’s there every payday.” The judges are iffy but he wins them over with a great tag to a joke about a breakfast cereal surprise.

***

It’s showtime.

Ah, that was Jimmy Dore we saw earlier. I knew I recognized him but all we saw was a wink and I didn’t hear the voice (he does a good podcast, too, called Comedy and Everything Else).
  • Chip Pope started weakly, I thought, but I laughed out loud at his CSI joke.
  • Paula Bel has got the angry schtick down pat. She sounds like another comic but I can’t put my finger on it just yet.
  • Jimmy Dore on gay marriage. Okay.
  • Christina Pazsitsky played the immigrant parent card. Meh.
  • Tiffany Haddish wants boobies. She was wearing a tight shirt and I was just thinking it made no sense because she clearly had some boobies. Then she reached in her shirt and pulled out one of the fake boobies. Hmm. I had her moving forward into the semis. Now I’m not so sure. Although judging by who they picked in the first half, I’m sure she’s still a lock.
  • James Adomian has played the Vancouver festival a couple times. He’s famous for his Bush impression, but now that W. is out of office, he’s doing more stand-up. He had an okay set about the lovable cartoon Mucinex blob.
Out of this group, I’d say Pope, Bel, and Haddish.

***

Showtime, night 2, part 2.
  • Rachel Feinstein was okay. Better than okay, actually. But less than really funny.
  • Chris Fairbanks just quit smoking. Or rather quit just smoking. It’s a longish bit but the payoff is funny.
  • Jonathan Thymius enters wearing a gold lamé jacket. He’s got a great look. He looks much older than he is, I’m guessing, and plays it up. But the two jokes they showed were weak and unoriginal.
  • Cristela Alonzo lies on her resume. Pretty good premise but she took it one step too far with the countdown tag, I thought.
  • Jason Nash is the father of a 3-year-old WWII Japanese general. Pretty good.
That’s only five comics by my count. Out of these, I think Feinstein, Fairbanks, and Nash should advance. So that means I have Chip Pope, Paula Bel, Tiffany Haddish, Rachel Feinstein, Chris Fairbanks and Jason Nash. That’s only six. Eleven advanced in the first hour. But there were only eleven comics total in the second hour. So I’m sticking with my picks.

***

The results are in:
  1. Rachel Feinstein. One-for-one. Off to a good start.
  2. Chip Pope. I’m on fire. Two-for-two.
  3. James Adomian. I like Adomian but didn’t pick him based on what I saw. So I don’t mind this pick at all. Two-for-three.
  4. Jason Nash. I’m back. Three-for-four.
  5. Paula Bel. This is too easy. Four-for-five.
  6. Cristela Alonzo. Oops. Setback. Four-for-six.
  7. Jonathan Thymius. What the? Well, he’ll be interesting, I’m sure. Four-for-seven.
That leaves out the lovely Tiffany Haddish, Chris Fairbanks, Jimmy Dore and Christina Pazsitsky. Odd that Dore wouldn’t advance, but then Ladman didn’t, either. That’s the thing with competitions: the best don’t always advance. It’s a crapshoot.

And just like that, it’s over. Next week they move on to New York for more of the same. I’m actually looking forward to it. I didn’t watch the last season or two, so this is encouraging.

Anyone else watch? Thoughts? Opinions? Do share.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was an epic post, I feel like I already watched it... Turns out someone uploaded the show to my favorite pirate site so I may get around to grabbing it at some point. What's that, I could just catch it on tv? So old fashioned ;)

Jude

Guy MacPherson said...

I would have made it shorter, but I didn't have time.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I wasn't planning on watching, but now I am.

dj said...

Surprised to see Jimmy Dore and Fairbanks not go through, they're both pretty great.