For months NBC has told us that when it comes time to determine who will be the “Last Comic Standing”, we would decide. Last night, we finally got our say. The five remaining comics returned to Las Vegas to perform a five minute set at the Paris Hotel and Casino.
Host/executive producer Jay Mohr started things out by explaining that each comic would have five minutes to perform, and that after five minutes if they were still talking their microphone would be turned off. I hope the folks that will be organizing the Presidential Debates in 2004 were paying attention. Jay also described how the voting would work. After the show, phone lines would be open for one hour. During that hour you could vote for your favorite comic by dialing a toll-free number – a maximum of three calls would be allowed per originating phone number. Until midnight Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, you can also vote online, with a maximum of three votes per email address. If the people that plan to lead a new Iraqi government think this is how Democracy works, I’m very afraid. Iraq is a country of about twenty-two million people, and I can see the “Two Camels Walk Into A Bar” party nominee winning in a landslide with sixty-seven million votes. If you check the official rules on the NBC website, you’ll see that the network reserves the right to change the number of votes allowed per phone number and email at the producer’s sole discretion. You know, in case Dat Phan doesn’t have enough votes after the initial tally.
Jay introduces a clip of Ralphie May as the guy that “took down Rob Cantrell and made Dat Phan hide in a theater for over an hour.” Nothing like pointing out that Ralphie wronged two of the voters’ favorite comics on the night of the voting, is there? In his video clip, Ralphie tells us that he is more at home on stage than anywhere else. He comes off as earnest, honest, and mellow. Mohr then introduces Ralphie to the audience, and he comes out on stage to a standing ovation. Rather than going with the humor from “da hood” that we’ve heard him do before, we were greeted with a completely new set. He railed against privileged people that protest things because they feel guilty. Like driving to a “No War for Oil” protest in a Ford Excursion. He had no problem with a war for oil, said that it was about time we got something out of a war: “We didn’t get anything out of Somalia except one good movie!” He took a dig at Michael Moore. He complained about airport security. He was loud. He was brash. He was passionate. The crowd loved him; in addition to the standing ovation at the beginning of his set, he got one in the middle, and in the end. And the crowd chanted his name. It was the warmest reception from the in-house audience we’d see all night.
After the break, Jay introduced Dat Phan as the guy they
found “Sleeping under a desk and studying comedy like it’s a math problem.” He pointed out that he must have solved the problem, because he beat two of the strongest talents in the house. With that, we see Dat’s video clip. Dat tells us that if you pursue your dream and sacrifice everything to get what you want, you have to be a little crazy. That’s true, unless what you’re sacrificing is a life of sleeping under a desk and living on bread and water. Dat joked about his mom again, but with jokes we’d not heard before, like saying she thought there were landmines everywhere, even in a supermarket. Dat explained to her that those weren’t landmines, but sprinklers. I’ve been going to the grocery store for almost forty years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sprinkler on the floor of any of them; maybe I’m just too distracted looking for the Grey Poupon. He went on about dating the daughter of a Vietnam Vet. The highlight of his set may have been when he met the father: “My name’s Charlie – I mean Dat Phan! I love your daughter, MIA.” He ended his set with a joke about being made fun of because of his race. It was funny, but I think the crowd didn’t react as strongly as they would have if they hadn’t heard it on TV the week before. Still, he got a standing ovation when he finished.
Next up is Tess. Jay introduces her clip by saying that she started her time in the house with back-to-back exemptions, and had shown herself to be a force to be reckoned with. Tess tells us that it’s time to land another punch for comedy. The crowd greets her with a standing ovation. Tess tells us that being back in Vegas gives her flashbacks to her days as a plus-sized stripper named Tub-o-Love at a club for big girls. The majority of her set went into more details about her life as a stripper, and how she lost her job as a plus-sized model when, without directions, she put on a thong backwards. She blamed the stereotype of blacks loving fried chicken on Zimbabwe: “It’s them the chicken eatin’ bastards! It’s them!” As with Ralphie and Dat, the crowd gave her a standing ovation at the end of her set.
In the introduction to Rich Vos’ video clip, Jay tells us that Rich was the Don of the house, and that he set a record for most hours ironing the same pair of pants. In the clip, Rich tells us that he’s nervous, and surprise, he’s most likely going to stink. Rich comes no stage and, as in New York, asks the crowd for a round of applause for his opening acts. He talks about Vegas and the how low someone must have sunk in life to play nickel slots. He talked about dating, and how his daughter looks like a sweetheart but is so evil she should have been born in a cornfield. Of her mom’s new husband, she says “Mommy says he has bigger feet.” At the end of his set, Jay kissed his ring, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Finally, it’s time for Cory Kahaney. Jay tells us that people in Vegas are so obsessed with gambling that he was in an elevator with a guy that was yelling “C’mon Nine!” In the video clip, Cory tells us that she’s finally crossed the threshold to nervous. In her set, she tells us she likes being a comic because of the hours: “I just started, and I’m almost done.” She discusses orgasms, low pants, “The Eminem”, and that she cheers her daughter up by playing “Let’s Plan Mommy’s Funeral.” Standing ovation. Again. Did NBC have all the chairs hooked up to a car battery or something?
Jay finishes up with the voting rules again, and we see a clip of each of the comics from the night’s performances.
I like each of the comics on this show. I think they will all go on to enjoy greater success than they experienced prior to this show. I think they each offer a different style, a different take on comedy. And since comedy is a matter of taste, I thought NBC did a good job of offering up a little something for everyone. I went into last night completely undecided on who I’d vote for. It was like a boxing match, where everyone was pretty much even going into the final round. I looked at last night as the opportunity for the comics to bowl me over. Instead, most of them looked like they were more content to sit on the ropes and try to make it to the bell than in going for the knock-out punch. The exception to that was Ralphie; I thought his choice of material was bold; any time you choose to touch on politics or controversial issues, you run the risk of alienating at least half the crowd. Ralphie didn’t play it safe – he went for the knock-out – and I applaud him for that. He made me laugh harder than anyone else last night, and that’s why he got my vote. But then, I’m a Republican, and anyone that rips Michael Moore is okay in my book. Oops, I just lost half the audience. Maybe I should have played it safe.
In general, I was a little disappointed in the show. This was supposed to be the culmination of everything leading up to this episode, and I felt a bit let down. Perhaps it was because we only got to see each comic perform for five minutes. I think we, and they, would have been better served if this week’s show had been two hours instead of next week, when the network is going to milk the announcement of the winner for all it’s worth. I think we’re just lucky that NBC isn’t promoting an eight-part mini-series called “Last Comic Standing: The Results.” Had this week’s show been longer, we could have seen at least ten minutes from each comic, and I for one would have felt I had more to base my four-score votes on. I also think that each of the comics showed some nerves; every single one of them stumbled on at least one line during their act. I can’t blame them – the pressure on them must have been huge – but I thought it affected nearly every performance.
According to an eye-witness account from someone that attended the taping of this show last week, NBC cut out a crowd chant that I think many of you would agree with: “We want Dave.” Ah, what might have been.
Protesters, supporters of idiots that make political statements at an awards ceremony, and anyone else that vehemently disagrees with the views expressed in this recap can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Ironically, the line forms to the left.