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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Last Comic Standing: Week 3

Don’t you just love these after-the-fact play-by-plays? What’s the point, I ask myself reflexively. There isn’t one, I answer myself. It just gives me something to do while watching and a reason to make myself watch each week. And if I write some of the names down as I go along, it helps me remember them down the road. Plus it keeps me from asking questions to myself.

So on with the show. Thank God for the PVR, aka the greatest invention known to mankind. I see it’s only an hour this week. Don’t they know the industry standard for reality shows these days is two hours? Maybe they’re cutting back because the show is tanking. Maybe it’ll be cancelled before they get to the end, like it was a few season ago.

At least this week they tell us how many will earn a ticket to the semi-finals: Nine. (Maybe they told us in past weeks, but I’m easily distracted.) This will help in my predictions. (By the way, I have read nothing online prior to watching this. No recaps, no spoilers. It obviously not something I absolutely must know about.)

They’re back in New York for the final auditions.

Hey, there’s Brian McKim! I know him... Well, I’ve met him, I should say. He’s the ugly half of

Oh... No... They just told us, (well, the American viewers, at least) to keep our eyeballs peeled because we (Americans) are the ones to decide who will win the quarter of a million American dollars. Shit. I’m not a big fan of democracy. (Don’t go jumping to conclusions; I’m not a communist.) But Andy Kindler said it best at the State of the Industry address at the Just For Laughs festival several years ago: “Any time an audience is involved in voting, the worst comic is going to win.” That’s actually a paraphrase, but the sentiment is dead-on.

To prove my point, here’s what Kindler – a judge on the show this season – told me in an interview in 2004 (and this is verbatum):
One line I said about Last Comic Standing at Montreal is, "Some people feel it's the worst TV show ever. And others say it might be the worst thing ever."
And this:
“I was watching Last Comic Standing, which to me is just the end of comedy, really. Comedy's already cheesy, and then you're going to make it even more hideous by having a contest involved in it.”
And this:
"Comedy's already cheesy, and then you're going to make it even more hideous by having a contest involved in it? If van Gogh or Picasso had people voting on every segment of his painting: 'Log on now! And tell us whether Matisse should do a still life or he should become an abstract...'. I wish I knew more art terms to flesh out this joke."
And I agree with him on the voting aspect. I mean, yes, somebody’s got to vote. But middle America? Are you serious? There’s a chance the best comic will win, but there’s also a really, really great chance one of the worst ones in the finals will win.

Jerry Rocha, a professional comic from Texas for the last eight years, talked about his creepy uncle, a racist, who doesn’t laugh at racist jokes; he just agrees with them in a thick southern accent. I’m guessing he’s an uncle through marriage because he goes on to tell us he comes from a poor Mexican family. I know there are racist Mexicans, too, but it’s an odd contrast since most people would naturally go to a white southern bigot. I think he should have set that up more clearly and reversed the bits. But that’s just me because he got through to the evening competition with a unanimous and enthusiastic thumbs up.

Calise Hawkins is a single mom with a big round afro. As opposed to the hexagonal ones. She talks about her 3-year-old daughter, who reminds Calise of a homeless guy on the subway. Kindler says no because the characterization of a homeless guy is disturbing in a way, even though he says she’s a really good performer. Greg Giraldo says yes. So it’s up to Natasha Leggero... She’s also a yes. Me? I’m with Andy. But not because I found it disturbing. I just didn’t think there was anything to it. We’ve all heard toddler-as-drunk-friend jokes. This was just a variation on that.

Mike Vecchione is a New Yawker who says he looks like a cop. Very dry. But he made me laugh so I’d put him through. And so do the judges. Natasha raves about him. Somebody’s got a crush!

Hey, it’s freak time! Mr. Zed is a fake robot stand-up comic. It’s funny already, isn’t it?! He gets laughs from the judges, but they don’t think he can sustain that character throughout the season so he’s a goner. Hell, he barely sustained it throughout his fifteen seconds of air time so they got this one right.

Here’s what I like about the freak show part: The judges have fun with them and can make fun of them in a light way. In years past, they’d sit there and do slow burns, like they were pissed off. These guys (and gal) will tell somebody they enjoyed their audition, but give them a no anyway. And when they are more forceful, they still make it funny. Gotta like that.

Back to the normal comics. Kyle Grooms says he’s been doing comedy for 15 years. They show him doing a Barak Obama impression, with the joke being that he’s part everything, including almost every species of animal. It didn’t do anything for me, but Giraldo, in putting him through, said the Obama bit isn’t even a big part of his act. So why did they show that part, I wonder? Hopefully he’ll be better in the evening.


Some poor Italian schmuck in line said, “If you want to be famous, you go on Last Comic Standing.” Where do people get their crazy ideas from?

The smiling Ryan Hamilton comes to the mic. Where have I seen him before? Has he been on a previous season? He’s pretty good. Talked about taking a Statue of Liberty boat tour that recreated all too well the immigrant experience. His huge smile is a bit disconcerting but I don’t disagree with the judges, who put him through.

Carmen Lynch also has a 3-year-old daughter. Let’s see where she goes with it... Ah, much better. Her “kid”, nicknamed Whatserface, is Bolivian. Nice misdirection.

Jordan Carlos was a preppy black guy, by his description. The fact he uses the word “leisure” tells you what kind of guy he is, he says. We don’t know if he got through but judging from the laughs from the judges, he probably did.

Nick Cobb thinks whispering is creepy. I wish he didn’t give away the punchline well before he got to it, but it was a funny idea with a funny delivery. Judges laughed.

Rob O’Reilly makes a lot of puns, he says. And then he makes a bad one. I’m not an anti-pun person, either, like so many are. I just thought this one was lame.

Ah, they all got through, as we see now in montage form.

Nikki Glaser... there’s a familiar name. Wish I knew from where. Oh. Four years ago she made it to the semis while she was still in college. I remember her. She was pretty good, if I recall. She said she didn’t deserve to make it past the semis then but has been working her ass off ever since and really wants it this time. Her audition is so-so, though. But she’s got a great presence and I agree with Giraldo: her last joke was great. She said she believes in love at first sight so much that she doesn’t even look homeless guys in the eyes anymore because she doesn’t want to risk it. Kindler likes her audition so much, he says yes in German. He didn’t even say he was disturbed by the subject of homelessness this time.

Next up is a sketch team, the Reverend Bill & Betty Holland. She’s wearing a purple dress with hair to match, while he’s got a yellow suit and hair of an undetermined colour. They’re playing cheesy southern televangelists. The judges stop them at the Jew bashing. Which leads to a montage of Jew bashing, and that irks Kindler. But I’m guessing the biggest insult to Andy was their lack of comedic ability. Because I know some of his alt-comic cronies can pull the same type of joke off. It’s all in the telling.


Here’s another guy I’ve heard of: Myq Kaplan. I saw him once on The Tonight Show, have read his comments on, and have heard him interviewed on Marc Maron’s What the Fuck? podcast (where Maron could barely contain his contempt for Kaplan’s non-personal style of smart-guy humour). As he’s telling us he’s an extroverted, less-outcast nerd, his partner gives him a kiss at the cab door and says, “Don’t sleep with anybody.” I love it when women are so in love they don’t realize their men are complete dorks.

I like wordplay, but his audition did nothing for me. The judges didn’t seem to love him, but they liked him well enough to advance him to the evening competition. Probably got through on name recognition or agent's pull.

And here’s Brian McKim back. He tells us he’s been doing comedy since 1981 (read: he’s old). He does wordplay, too, in a very deadpan manner. There seemed to be crickets during his audition (metaphorically speaking), but I liked his set. The judges seemed iffy until he got them with an off-the-cuff rejoinder about mixing his good jokes in with crap. So he’s advancing.

Jordan Rock tells us it’s hard being Chris Rock’s brother because we assume he’s getting on stage just because he’s Chris Rock’s brother. You know what? He’s right. And I bet that’s exactly why he’s getting on stage. Kindler says he has good delivery but his material wasn’t good enough for the show. I thought he sounded rehearsed and unnatural and his delivery was the worst part of his audition. The nurturing Natasha thought he showed potential and voted yes, but Kindler and Giraldo passed.

Man, Rock is only 19. That’s quite the age gap between him and Chris. At least he was wise enough to realize his audition sucked. That shows maturity.

Adrienne Iapalucci inexplicably gets three yeses. She was okay but her premise was better than the realization of it. She talked about doing inadvertant racist things like crossing the street when she sees a black guy approaching, who turns out to be her boyfriend. But she had a good, droll delivery.

Jason Weems talks about being ambushed at a fake karate lesson. Kindler thought he was “very, very funny” which goes to show one of two things: the editors cut out the good stuff or Kindler has lost his mind.

Mark Normand had a good line about Christian rock... Traci Skene, the good looking half of and McKim's wife, did a line about beefy hair care products... They both advance.

Next up is some one-eyed mute thing. It’s a costume, relax. It’s kind of a shame it was just a plug for some new lame movie, but at least the judges had fun with it. But still, it really makes me not want to have anything to do with that movie. And I will not be a party to their shameless plugs so you won't read the name of it here.


Okay, it’s showcase time. About time.

Kyle Grooms gets things started with a, “Sup, y’all? Aiiight.” Slays me every time. Then he goes into a bit about the non-threatening name of Kyle. I didn’t dig it, but he’s really good on stage. And his glasses bit I thought was funny... Nikki Glaser did a joke I swear she did four years ago about a guy dating a woman in a wheelchair. Funny bit but I thought she’s been working on her act the last four years?... Jerry Rocha got mugged by four Latinos, who turned out to be his buddies. I liked it, but not so much the follow-up about him dating a 20-year-old Mexican. Mostly because I didn’t believe a guy that looked like that could date a 20-year-old...

Before hitting the stage, Traci Skene admitted to being out of her comfort zone so she’s not going to even acknowledge the crowd. But she seemed comfortable. As she should because she’s a wily vet. She did material on being married for 21 years and the lack of romance in such a relationship... Big-mouthed Ryan Hamilton had a really good set. Maybe that face actually does work because he just seems funny. Maybe even funnier than he really is. But I think his material and writing is good, too... Calise Hawkins went on about her daughter again. But her set-up wasn’t logical. She was happy to be out so she could drink. But in the next sentence she said you can’t drink around a toddler and you can’t even be hungover. So I guess that means she won’t be drinking then? And her big joke really went nowhere...

Myq (pronounced Mike, because that’s what it was before he changed the spelling) Kaplan played up his nerd status. But I liked his quick-pace wordplay in this set, which started out by saying ‘lie detector’ was too negative a name; why not call it a ‘truth detector’? and went on from there, ending up at ‘boobies’...


Brian McKim told us how the flu shot has changed his life. I laughed. I’m a sucker for deadpan... Carmen Lynch made me laugh, too. “That’s all I wanna do now,” was a great line made greater by her whiny deadpan delivery. Original stuff... Here’s the cop look-alike guy Natasha liked so much. Mike Vecchione wants to see cocaine and fishing together. Another great delivery. Kinda aggressive but not too much... Rob O’Reilly addresses his looks off the top, which I’m really getting sick of. I know, a comic is supposed to do that kinda thing if something’s really distracting otherwise, but this guy doesn’t really look like either a pedophile or someone he’d molest. But his joke about apples and oranges was good... Jason Weems wondered who let Magic Johnson speak at Michael Jackson’s funeral. And even though he was making fun of my all-time favourite basketball player, he made it funny... Adrienne Iapalucci used to be a nanny even though she hates kids. Didn’t really work for me... Nick Cobb did a similar bit to his audition, when he talked about how whispering something is creepier than saying it. In the showcase he showed how being on two knees is always worse than being on one. Shouldn’t have gone with the Viet Cong reference. Way more disturbing than homeless guy. I wonder if all his jokes are juxtaposing two similar things and showing how different they really are...


Now we find out who the nine are who will be going to the semis. Allow me to make my predictions. I’d say Ryan Hamilton, Myq Kaplan, Brian McKim, Carmen Lynch, Mike Vecchione, Rob O’Reilly, Jason Weems, Kyle Grooms and Nikki Glaser. But some are definitely on the bubble. Let’s see who they pick:
  1. Jerry Rocha. Not a horrible pick. I didn’t pick him just because every joke was about him being Mexican. But he’s decent. I’m 0-for-1.
  2. Carmen Lynch. 1-for-2.
  3. Kyle Grooms. 2-for-3.
  4. Mike Vecchione. 3-for-4.
  5. Jason Weems. 4-for-5.
  6. Ryan Hamilton. 5-for-6.
  7. Nick Cobb. Again, not a horrible pick. He seems funny enough. 5-for-7.
  8. Adrienne Iapalucci. I’m fine with it even though I didn’t pick her. 5-for-8.
  9. Myq Kaplan. 6-for-9.
There you have it. Of my picks, McKim, O’Reilly and Glaser didn’t advance. That’s gotta be a big blow for Glaser, who advanced four years ago. But she probably should have done a different joke.

Wait a second! Stop the presses! I’ve paused the PVR. Craig Robinson just said, “There are only two tickets left.” I’m going to rewind this in a second. I could have sworn they said there’d be nine advancing. Oh well, let’s see who the other two are:
  • 10. Nikki Glaser. There she is! 7-for-10.
  • 11. Brian McKim. Bingo! 8-for-11.
Meaning only O’Reilly of my picks didn’t advance. And that’s okay. He was iffy at best.

Okay, I’m watching the beginning again and... It sounds to me like Robinson says, “Nine dark and lovely comics earn tickets to the semi-finals.” Vindication!

Well, that’s it for this week. See you next week... when I get around to watching.


Anonymous said...

I like the Amazing Race (hey at least they travel to different places) but that aside reality tv never really caught on with me. Maybe France should try picking their team for the next world cup via a game show however...


Anonymous said...

Mostly agree with your opinions of the comics, but I didn't think Him and Her from SHECKYmagazine were even a little bit funny.
They do have some interesting posts on about getting audition spots and the whole process. They also speculate on the reasons for them getting auditions, since they were such huge critics if the show (à la Kindler).
This messing around with the numbers of people going through makes the show appear more "cooked" that it would otherwise, but some of that may be due to the fact the host wasn't really there for this chunk of auditions.