Okay, before I go into the detail of this week’s episode of Last Comic Standing, I think it might be a good idea to review what we know about the show. Ten comics. One house. Who is the funniest? You will decide!. Seems simple enough, right? But who is the You? We started out with thousands of aspiring funny folk, we’re down to ten, and unless You was one of the Celebrity Talent Scouts, You have had nothing to do with the decision yet. Doesn’t that bother You? It would bother me, but then apparently, I’m not You. More on that later, let’s get to this week’s show.
The show opens with the ten finalists being welcomed to the house by Jay Mohr. It is your typical enormous mansion overlooking Hollywood. Well, typical except for the furniture, which is well, whacky. For example, Geoff Brown and Sean Kent share a room with matching blue racecar beds. You know, like your three year old has.
Jay gathers the comics and introduces them to the Fortune Teller, which they apparently decide to call Claudette. Claudette is a fortune teller machine, much like the one that Tom Hanks encounters in the movie Big. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps long ago Ralphie May made the same wish as the boy in that film, but in Ralphie’s case things went horribly, horribly wrong. Jay explains that the fortune teller will periodically give them instructions, clues, and missions to undertake.
The comics start to get comfortable in the house, and begin getting to know each other. Dat Phan tells us that Rich Vos “is kinda like that uncle that’s been in jail, with his tattoos and crass attitude.” We’re then treated to an uncomfortable scene that centers around Rich’s desire to smoke in the house, against the wishes of some of the others, most notably Dat and Sean. Rich gets upset and says “Fine, then don’t drink in the house because I’m a recovering alcoholic.” To illustrate the absurdity of that statement, Ralphie then asks that all candy, chocolate, hotdogs, cakes and delicious cereal be removed from the house, for obvious reasons.
Rich then tells us (and by way, if anyone can explain to me why in every single “confessional” Rich does, he’s ironing, let me know) “Stupid Sean, let’s get to the bottom of this – he’s stupid.” Yeah, the name “Stupid Sean” sort of gave that away, Rich. Next we see Rich and Sean playing tennis at night. Rich is clearly not comfortable on a tennis court, and Sean takes advantage of this and drills him in the arm with a serve. Rather than apologize, Sean laughs about it, then says the only funny thing I’ve heard him say so far “Hopefully I hit him in his smoking arm.” The guy finally made me laugh, but all I could think about was how rude he was to Vos on the court.
The next morning, Claudette spits out her first “fortune.” It turns out that before she does this, she emits a really annoying siren to let everyone in the house know to gather around. Can anyone say “Tree Mail”? It reads “You cannot truly be a master until you are a teacher.” Jeff, I mean Jay, shows up to translate, and it turns out that this is their first “task.” It’s not a competition, they just have to go to a school and teach a first grader a joke. I laugh as they all pile into their short bus for the trip.
At the school, they each pair off with a first grader. Watching them interact with the kids is fun. Some of them were clearly more comfortable with kids than others. It was sweet to see how gently Ralphie approached them because “They’ve never seen anyone as big as me.” Surprisingly, the smallest kid in the class ended up working with Ralphie, and little Carlos was all attitude as he he rapped “Hey playas! Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine.” “The kid will have a contract before I do.” said Ralphie. We were treated to other kid classics such as “What’s green and sings? Elvis Parsley” and Rich Vos’ charge Gilbert laughing his way through “Why did the dog hide under the tree? Because he didn’t want to become a hot dog. Thank you that’s all I’ve got.”
Back at the house, Cory Kahaney attempted to make a good impression with her housemates by cooking up a big pot of spaghetti sauce from scratch. It was well received by all but Sean, who had the audacity to complain about it to the others after dinner. Ralphie thought he was a jerk, and we already know what Rich thinks of him.
The next morning Jay arrives with more information about how the show will work. Since this is the fourth episode, it’s about time we learned that, don’t you think? Each week there will be a contest, and the winner cannot be eliminated from the house that week. This week’s contest will be for the comics to go to the Universal City Walk, an upscale outdoor mall, and do whatever they can to get people to give them money. The person that returns with the most money will win immunity. In addition, the winner will get a featured segment on the TV show "Extra!" This is sounding more and more like "Survivor: Hollywood" to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, it’s way better than "Joe Millionaire: The Outback."
So, into the small bus and off to the combination reward/immunity challenge. Er, mean the contest. Apparently NBC also gave each comic a white poster-board, a black marker, and a money box. Rich tries “A dollar to get on TV.” Rob Cantrell’s sign says “Rob Cantrell – funny man?” and he tells a joke so lame even a little girl made a face at him. Tess cracks me up with her “Help A Sista Out Foundation” sign. Dave offers “Counterfeit Celebrity Autographs” for three bucks, with a senior citizen discount - $3.50. Geoff Brown’s gimmick is “Ebonics Explained.” Ralphie yells “Help a fat guy out! With your donations I won’t get naked! Just a mere dollar apiece can help keep my clothes on!” He quickly gets a buck from a frantic passerby, and I think he’ll blow away the field until we see the huge crowd gathered around Dat Phan. Dat looks like the only natural street performer in the group, and he dazzles the crowd with kung fu, the splits, and jokes. With a crowd like that, how can he lose?
Back at the house, Jay gathers the group and announces the totals. Dave comes in dead last with a lowly $6.75. He probably could have done better, but one of his customers pointed out that there are actually two O’s in “Scooby.” Surprisingly, Ralphie comes in second, surpassing Dat’s $20.53 by coming up with $34.81 and two pieces of candy. The big winner with a hefty $52.29 turns out to be Tess, whose aggressive approach was rewarded with the first immunity. Jay tells them that the next day, they will have to state “I know I’m funnier than blank.” And vote for one of the others. We’re treated to hushed conversations between different groups of comics as they discuss voting blocks. Will the Eastern comics form an alliance against the Westerners? Who knows.
The next day Claudette’s alarm sounds and she spits out “It is time to decide who are you funnier than?” Ralphie proclaims “I will rock a mike, and I will do it with righteous vengeance.” Jay arrives to explain what the question means, namely, how contestants will be eliminated. Each comic must go into a voting booth, which looks like one of those little automated photo booths you see in arcades, and vote for one of their competitors. The person receiving the most votes will then select one of the people that voted against him or her, and the two of them will compete against each other, performing standup in front of an audience at a “comedy warehouse.” The audience in that warehouse will then vote for their favorite comic, and the loser will be eliminated from the competition. Do you realize what just happened?!!! We finally found out that You is not me, and it’s not you either. You is the audience in the comedy warehouse. Initially I feel cheated, because I won’t get to vote. But then I realize that I won’t have to wait until the next night to find out who America chose – I’ll get to find out right away. That’s a fair trade off.
The comics vote in the booth, and once all their votes are in, they view the video results in the house’s theater. The votes went as follows:
Tess voted for Ralphie. Tere got a vote from Rob “Because she can’t do this” and he did the old detachable thumb trick, which cracked up everyone, including me. Cory got a vote from Geoff. Dat apologized to his roomie Rob, but voted for him anyway. Cory voted for Rich, Tere foolishly chose Dave, and Rich predictably voted for Sean. So much for alliances; the first seven votes were for seven different comics. Sean said some nice things about Dave but chose him, and Dave chose Sean, saying something about how Sean puts something at the end of all his jokes that make them not funny. Sean was not amused. The tension mounts before we see Ralphie’s vote, as both Dave and Sean have two votes. Ralphie votes for Sean and throws down the gauntlet by saying “I don’t know if someone is a punk-ass bitch or a bitch-ass punk.” Ralphie tells us that he was calling him out because he wanted Sean to choose him as his competitor. Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Ralphie. Sean wimps out, saying that he doesn’t want to pick Ralphie, because Ralphie can cook. Sean, despite the overwhelming similarities, this isn’t Survivor and you don’t have to keep Ralphie around for his survival skills in the kitchen. Instead he picks Dave, then refuses to shake Dave’s hand when it is offered to him. It appears that somebody really is a bitch-ass punk.
Dave and Sean both pack their bags, as once the loser is voted out, they don’t get to return to camp, er, the house. As Sean packs, Geoff asks him about his decision to choose Dave over Ralphie, and Sean tell him “Who would you have picked – the likeable fat guy or the Midwesterner?” Geoff replies that he would have picked the guy that called him a punk-ass bitch. Yes Geoff, but you and Ralphie are from Da Hood. Sean doesn’t have your background and doesn’t understand the concept of being “Dissed.”
Everyone piles into the bus for the trip to the comedy warehouse. On the way there, Dave is at ease and jokes amiably with the other comics, while Sean is silent and pensive. Someone asked “Who did Dead Man Walking? Wasn’t that Sean Penn.” Once at the venue, Jay introduces the contestants, Dave at stage left, Sean at stage right. Sean goes first.
Sean’s first joke is about how he thinks the bravest guy he’s ever heard of has got to be the first guy to eat an egg. I’m stunned that he’s chosen to go with this as his opening; that is a really, really old joke. The crowd laughs at Mr. Kent’s performance, and he leaves the stage looking pretty confident.
Dave starts out by telling the audience that the competition is a lie, that there really isn’t a house, and the comics are staying in the warehouse. A few chuckles. He then says that he’s not used to the big city, but the news is the same in every big city – and just once he’d like to hear them report about a drug deal that’s gone just fine. Bigger laughter. His performance builds, as does the laughter, and by the time he finishes his act, the crowd is rolling and Sean looks like he really is a dead man walking.
Jay asks the crowd to vote for their favorite. Rich tells us that he’s never seen Dave perform before, but he loves his delivery and bad posture. Dat tells us that everyone was rooting for Dave. Jay announces the results, and with a landslide 73%, Dave Mordal defeats Sean Kent in the first comedy shootout. After seeing Dave perform, I doubt that anyone will want to go up against him for a while. As Sean slinks out, he tells us that at least he can get a shower now because all his clothes smell like smoke. I know he meant it as a dig against Rich Vos, but it just makes him look like an idiot. I mean, you work in a comedy club, dude – everybody’s clothes smell like smoke.
There is an every increasing avalanche of shows trying to ride the coattails of successful shows like "Survivor" and "American Idol." As a result, there are a lot of pretty horrible reality and talent shows out there right now. Trust me folks, this isn’t one of them. If you haven’t caught an episode, I encourage you to tune in next week; it’s funnier than a Paulie Precap.