And it’s on. So let’s get started.
It’s the second group of semi-finalists. Probably the worst opening so far by Robinson, with the pay-off being a monkey in the control room. Oh well, at least it’s different. And Robinson’s genuinely hilarious.
1. Roy Wood, Jr. says, “Why not me?” Sure, why not? He’s fed up with wedding invitations and he’s not going to take it anymore. Hey, who isn’t? I'm glad someone finally spoke up. Then he rails against single friends. He’s got one who spends all day packing condoms. Only problem is the women are packing mace and a Taser. Zing! Nothing special here.
Andy Kindler loves listening to him. Natasha Leggero is talking about the response again. Greg Giraldo loves his character and POV. Me? He was unspectacular. Nothing to set him apart from anyone. Just a pro who gets the job done. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s just a thing.
Robinson gets me back on his side with, “Actually, on Last Comic Standing, there are no losers; only un-winners.”
2. Ooh, a southern belle is next. Fortune Feimster is funny off-stage. Let’s see how she is on-stage. Her options, she says, were comedian, softball coach or UPS driver. You see, she’s a lesbian. And not of the lipstick variety. Oops, Fortune mentioned the homeless. Hate to hear what Reverend Kindler is going to say about this. I thought she was funny, but her more than her material.
But Kindler thought she was fantastic. Natasha says she not only says funny things, she says things funny. Giraldo reveals that not all comedians are funny (don’t I know it), but she genuinely is.
3. Jerry Rocha starts with some airplane jokes. But with a twist. He was on a flight with only ugly people and he felt they were going to die because it was God cleaning up mistakes. In the middle of one bit, he gets an applause break and pulls a Bobby Kelton, acknowledging the crowd by nodding and mouthing, “Thank you.”
Kindler said he had a solid set. Nathasha thought his impression of a black woman was a little easy. Giraldo opined that he was very funny.
4. Next up is Guy Torry, who says a lot of people know him from his roles in movies or TV rather than his stand-up. Coulda fooled me. I’ve never seen him in anything, but I have heard of him as a stand-up. Don’t know where, though. Coulda been a couple weeks ago on this very show. But he assures us he’s a funny cat. On stage, he says he’s tri-polar: the good, the bad and the ugly. He goes political, talking about Obama and Hilary and even manages a Monica Lewinsky joke because that shit’s timeless, am I right? Throughout, Giraldo looks perplexed. Then again, so do some audience members. And I can’t understand a few key phrases even with the benefit of instant replay thanks to the DVR. So that didn’t help.
Kindler wasn’t sure about the choice of topical material and wasn’t sure about the Clinton’s cock (caucus) joke. Torry shot back: “That’s because you didn’t vote for Barak.” Kindler responded, “Do I look like a Republican?” Let me asure you, dear reader, Kindler is the furthest thing from a Republican. And he’s extremely political. When I interviewed him back when Kerry was running, he couldn’t stop raving about the guy and how he was sure he was going to beat Bush. I have no doubt Kindler voted for Obama. Natasha thinks Torry’s really charismatic and “did really well with the audience” (argh!), but she thought his punchlines were nothing – and repeated three times, yet! Torry denied doing any such thing. Giraldo thinks he didn’t even do that well with the crowd. He knows he was capable of a better set. Wow, that was awkward.
5. Jacob Sirof says it’s pathetic that he made more money making pizza as a teenager than he has in comedy. He enters and says exactly what I just wrote about Torry's exchange, “Wow, that wasn’t awkward.” Good touch. Not a bad set. He looks and sounds funny. And had some funny lines, but not killer. Although, truth be told, I think I zoned out a bit. I could rewind but I don’t want to be here all night.
The judges all thought he was very funny. That’s about it from them.
6. Nikki Glaser thinks she has a shot at being the last comic standing. She has more experience than anyone, having been on the show before. She starts with a Skype joke that’s kinda easy. Then she does a teenage pregnancy joke that’s too similar to Sarah Silverman’s, minus the race angle. Then moves into an abortion joke, because middle America loves abortion. But her pro-life joke at the end was solid.
Kindler thought she did a solid job. Natasha likes her party girl mentality (I think she probably meant persona). No word from Giraldo.
7. Taylor Williamson is nerdy and low key. Right off the top he asks how much time he has left. Does a labradoodle joke that I was dreading but it had a nice payoff. Then talked about a camel with really tiny humps but with a great personality. He’s oddly endearing.
Andy thinks he’s hilarious and has a very strange mind. Natasha says the people love him and loves his character. Giraldo was really impressed.
8. Nick Cobb got dumped when he was stoned. And the process wasn’t that bad, considering his state, he thought. He springboarded it into a whole segment on being dumped. A lacklustre set, I’d say.
Kindler thinks he has a very original mind but it didn’t all hit for him. Natasha goes to the “How did you feel about your set?” line she tried last week. She likes him but she wasn’t responding to these jokes. Greg had higher expectations. So we’re in agreement.
9. Mike Vecchione wasn’t a very good Catholic: his confirmation name was Pontius Pilate. No, it wasn’t. But hey, times are tough all over, are they not? That’s a lame start. But then he does a Fight Club reference that inexplicably gets a chuckle from me and he picks things up to finish off. Kinda vanilla but decent.
Natasha says most boys that look like him aren’t that clever (because he looks like a meathead, I guess). Giraldo loved him, too.
10. Cristela Alonzo’s parents were so Mexican, they were piñatas. You see, because a piñata is extremely Mexican. But, oh, they were poor. (How poor were they?) They were so poor the expiration date on food is just a suggestion. Is this mic on?! Hello?! (Actually, the joke did well. I just don’t think it should have.)
Andy thought she was funnier than her material. That’s a polite way of putting it. Natasha asks again how she feels about her set. What difference does it make? Natasha thought it took too long to get to the punchlines. Giraldo agreed but thought she was very funny.
11. Kurt Metzger asks if we’ve been able to forgive Tiger Woods. He thinks we should forgive him. But then he trashes him, asking why did he have all those endorsements. A golfer should only endorse golf equipment and old people diapers. Love it. Then he weaves it into a Lady Gaga slam. So far, he’s my favourite. He’s got to get through to the next round.
Kindler thought it’s hard to do Tiger Woods material without being pedestrian, but Metzger was able to something really different with it. Giraldo called him a “funny, funny dude”.
12. Laurie Kilmartin got pregnant by accident when she was 41. I had no idea she was that age. What did she use for protection, you wonder? Her age. Good opening. She played the bad-mom card again, which is understandable because she no doubt has lots of material on how this kid has ruined her life (comedically speaking, anyway). I didn’t really dig the Russian guy joke, though, but it was okay. I didn’t hate it, either. But I do really like her presence.
Kindler enjoyed the whole set. Leggero thinks she’s amazing. Giraldo says she’s a “great, great, great joke writer.”
13. Tommy Johnagin did the semis in 2007 and doesn’t want to be a two-time loser. He’s a new uncle to a fat baby. Weak opening. He does some familiar stuff about how easy it is to be an accidental baby-maker, but if you want to build a shed, you’ve got to really want to make a shed. I didn’t mind his bit about kissing styles, but I think he might very well be a two-time loser. His material is okay but I don’t really like his stage presence.
Kindler loved the shed joke. Disappointing. Natasha thinks he’s not only really funny but he’s competitive, whatever that means. And Giraldo also raves about the making humans by accident bit, saying he’s never heard it before. If I heard it before from Johnagin, I apologize, but I swear I’ve heard it elsewhere. Anyone out there have any ideas where I might have heard it? Hmm, maybe the judges will advance him afterall.
14. Claudia Cogan is always told she looks young for her age to the point where she’s always being thrust in a van on the way home from school. Huh? But what do you expect? She’s a temp not a real comedian. And she does a bunch of temp jokes.
Kindler says she’s very funny but her set didn’t kill him. Natasha felt a little lost. Giraldo likes her tone and POV but the set didn’t really jump off the stage. Poor Claudia. Back to temping.
15. Maronzio Vance can’t understand why they do a credit check to get a job. His set didn’t do anything for me but I liked his serious delivery.
Andy thought he was really fantastic. Natasha says he’s grown on her. Greg says he’s such a great storyteller.
16. Jason Nash says if he doesn’t do well in the competition, he will have to get a job to support his two kids. He starts off with the old physical resemblance shtick. He is not k.d. lang, in case you wondered. Figured as much since he was introduced as Jason Nash. He also does the Laurie Kilmartin-cum-Louis CK thing whereby he complains about his innocent children. Then he teaches his 3-year-old about the subtle nuances of using the phrase “fuck it”, culminating with regret that he ever had the kid. Why is it so funny when CK did and does it, but not here? Probably because CK was original. Nobody was talking like that when Louis started calling his kids assholes. It’s forgiveable with Kilmartin because at least we hadn’t heard a mother dissing her offspring and trying to free herself from his clutches before. But Nash’s stuff commits the sin of not being funnier than the original. If the premise is taken, you better make it extra funny or give it some kind of twist. I didn’t hear that here.
Kindler thinks this kind of material is exactly what Nash needs to be doing. Leggero really loved his set. Giraldo said he has this weird energy that’s silly/happy but creepy/sad at the same time. He thought Nash was “really, really funny.”
17. James Adomian is no stranger to Vancouver, having played the festival here a couple times. He starts out with great energy and an original take on modern TV watching. Then he goes to his bread and butter: impressions. He does a Gary Busey voice that may or may not sound exactly like him. I have no idea. But good set. I liked it. Maybe my second favourite of the night.
Andy thought Adomian was “fantastic”. After Adomian responds in a Kindler voice, Robinson gets him to do a Jesse “The Body” Ventura impersonation that is bang-on. I know that one. Then Natasha gets him to do George W. Bush. But he’s more than just voices, Natasha says. His impressions always have a strong POV and a strong take and they’re original. Glad to hear because I hate it when people discount any impression as hack. I love a good impression but there’s got to be more to it than the voice. The material has got to be solid, too. But I won’t discount someone immediately because they’re doing a voice.
18. Carmen Lynch’s on-stage persona would be better if we didn’t hear her talking totally normally off-stage. On stage she drones on a la Myrna on The Odd Couple (or Laverne in Laverne & Shirley for all the kids in da house). She starts off talking about either how freakishly tall she is (despite looking an average size) or how freakishly small South American guys are. Either way I’m not buying it. But enough about that, her sister just had a baby. Babies are weird when they’re first born, aren’t they? Yeah, not so much. At least not so weird that we haven’t already heard and thought about all her talking points. Even her weak final punchline: “Stop being such a baby.” Kindler’s all over comics making fun of the homeless, but where is the judge to stand up to all the baby haters out there? (I have nothing against baby jokes, just so you know. But they are getting a bit tiresome now that it’s okay to do them. As B.B. King would tell you, the problem with doing jokes that are now “okay” to do, the thrill is gone.)
Kindler thought she has such a unique perspective and liked the baby punching himself in the face bit she did. I think he’s purposely picking out the stuff I think is lame and lauding it. But he thought a lot of her other stuff wasn’t quite developed enough. Giraldo thought she had an original POV (seriously, he said that), such an original style (seriously, he said that), such an original way of delivering stuff (seriously, isn’t that the same as style?) and he thought she was “hilarious”. Leggero applauded and said, “Great job, Carmen!”
19. Here’s sheckymag’s Brian McKim. Hard to tell if he was nervous because his stance is always stiff and his delivery deliberate. So I’ll go with no. Or at least no more nervous than anyone else. I liked the wording of his first joke’s punchline: “edible panties with portobello mushrooms”. Very specific. So much funnier than if he said, for example, “with fries”. Same idea, but comedy’s in the details. He had a pretty good set.
Kindler enjoyed his act, calling it “smooth sailing”. Leggero loves his delivery style. Okay, but she thought he sounded like he was from a screwball comedy. I don’t hear it, but okay. Giraldo loves his cadence and thought he had a good persona.
That’s it. There are your second round of semi-finalists.
Here we go again. They didn’t tell us how many would be advancing. Don’t they understand the basic rules of fake competition? You let the viewers know what’s going to happen so we can play along. They picked five last week so let’s assume they’re going to pick five this week, too.
I see 21 contestants standing on the stage and as you know we only saw 19 perform. Man, it would suck to be the two that went through the stress of performing and then not get a nanosecond of screen time.
Here are my picks, in no particular order: Fortune Feimster, Taylor Williamson, Mike Vecchione, Kurt Metzger, and James Adomian. Let’s see how they jibe with the professional judges.
Group one consists of Jacob Sirof, Claudia Cogan (I think), James Adomian, Guy Torry and Jerry Rocha. It would be nice if they identified them all once again for the average viewer who wouldn’t know any of them from the proverbial hole in the ground. Or even a real hole. And the one moving on is... James Adomian! He’s the only one I had from those five, too. I’m good.
Group two is made up of Carmen Lynch, Roy Wood, Jr., Jason Nash, and Kurt Metzger. Gotta be Metzger, right? Say what?! Roy Wood, Jr. is selected. That’s a shocker. He was generic at best. I’m flabbergasted.
Group three is Laurie Kilmartin, Cristela Alonzo, Fortune Feimster, and Nick Cobb. Wowza again! It’s Laurie Kilmartin. Although I’m not flabbergasted by this selection because she’s funny. I just thought her set tonight wasn’t the best.
Group four is Brian McKim, Tommy Johnagin, Nikki Glaser and Taylor Williamson. Jesus, it’s Tommy Johnagin. After starting out 1-for-1, I’m 0-for-the next three. (Glaser is extremely upset. She must have thought she was a shoe-in. Oh well, as I always say, competitions are a crap-shoot. Especially fake ones on television.)
Group five is Mike Vecchione and Maronzio Vance. Vance is hamming it up but he’s got no ch-- what? What the hell is going on? I thought I could trust these judges. Maronzio Vance advances. Go figure. All I can do is assume the three judges we see are only hired to offer immediate feedback after each set and they have nothing to do with the selection process. Afterall, it doesn’t say they select anyone, right? So they’re not technically lying.
So your five semi-finalists this week are James Adomian, Roy Wood, Jr., Laurie Kilmartin, Tommy Johnagin and Maronzio Vance. Add them to last week’s winners: Felipe Esparza, Jonathan Thymius, Rachel Feinstein, Mike DeStefano, and Myq Kaplan, and there are your ten finalists. Right now, out of all of them I like both Feinstein and Kilmartin. Even though I didn’t have her advancing from the semis, I know she’s good. But next week is next week. Unfortunately, the public votes next week so it becomes a popularity contest. And that just sucks. All bets are off.