Good evening everyone, welcome to the FORT's Last Comic Standing Forum. Give yourselves a round of applause for supporting live comedy.
Hey, we've got a great season of comedy lined-up for you with this, the FIFTH season of LCS.
I'll be your host, this season, for LCS here on the FORT...my name is pg13.
Thank you, that's very nice of you. No...seriously...I haven't done anything yet. Oh, you're too kind...save it for the show.
Before we get going...just a couple of things. Comedy only really works when you're paying attention...so, please...turn your cell phones off...keep your table conversations to a whisper...and make certain you take care of your wait staff--they're working really hard for you.
Yes...give them a round of applause now. That'll get your nachos out here quicker, believe me.
I know you all want to hear how Paris Hilton is doing in jail...but, first, I suppose I should tell you something about myself.
I am a stand-up comedian based out of Seattle...that's right, the place where all of the coffee, software and heroin-addicted rock stars come from...glad you've heard of it...and I've been lucky enough to have worked with many former participants from previous seasons of NBC's Last Comic Standing...
Here's a picture of me after a show I did with Season Two winner John Heffron and Tammy Pescatelli at the Comedy Underground in Tacoma, Washington.
Over the years, I've brought Dat Phan to the stage. I've driven Dave Mordal deep into the woods of Washington State late at night (while he took a phone call from Rich Vos.) I've had to follow the heat laid down by Season Four runner-up Ty Barnett. I've let Cory Kahaney buy me crab legs...twice... I've even gotten into an on-line argument with Sean Kent right here on the FORT.
What I'm trying to tell you folks, is that I've heard a lot of behind the scenes stories about Last Comic Standing direct from the mouths of people who have been on the show. I'm not trying to brag here, folks...I'm just trying to gain some credibility with you.
How's it workin' so far? Yeah--you're right, I should just stick to tellin' jokes...
I'm also a long time participant right here on the FORT. You may recognize my longwinded ramblings from such memorable forums as The Amazing Race, Project Runway, Top Chef...but mostly I'm known for my writing right here in the Last Comic Standing forum.
I remember that the whole reason I joined the FORT was to express my outrage when Dat Phan defeated Dave Mordal in Season One...and I haven't stopped posting since...
This season, things will be a little bit different...I'm going to be your official LCS recapper.
Oh, thank you...that's...so...not necessary...but I appreciate it.
I'll tell you in advance...there's a high possibility of me bombing as a recapper for LCS. It's a hard show to recap--just ask any of the fine FORTskateers who have tried it. And THIS season will be especially difficult if the pre-season rumors are true...and there's no house, no boat, nothing but head-to-head comedy competitions...
But...again...remember...I've got some credibility here...so rest assured that if this beast of a reality tv show CAN be recapped--it WILL be recapped by ME...
...well, unless I'm stuck in Lewiston, Idaho...doing comedy at a casino...and can't log on to the FORT--then, probably, someone else will have to recap it for me...
But, most of the time, this season, it’ll be me.
I’ll make you this promise. While the primary purpose of my recapping this show for you is entertainment—I’m going to try to share my own perspective on the show…that of an actual stand-up comedian…and I’ll add in the perspective of other comedians—including some from fellow comedians who have been through this whole process before. Hopefully, that will help give everyone a more three dimensional picture of what we’re watching every week.
Sounds like fun, right? Who’s with me? Make some noise so I know you’re still awake out there… Huh? I’ll ask again—WHO’S WITH ME?
All right—so, with no further ado…let’s begin with the two hour season five premiere of NBC’s Last Comic Standing
Hey, Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: The pg13 LCS Recap
Episode One: Who ARE these people? (Part One)
Well, no one is re-inventing the wheel here—we begin this fifth season of Last Comic Standing with the same logo, same graphics, same music library and same hyper-edited beginning to take us up to the top of the first hill of this rollercoaster ride…meant to make us giddy with excitement and expectation (and to try to hide the fact that it’s all too often downhill all the way from here.)
One noticeable improvement over last year is the sheer force of energy being delivered by our new host—Bill Bellamy. Compared to last year’s overly made-up, stiff as cardboard and uncomfortable in the role of host Anthony Clark…Bill is doing what a good MC does, he’s getting our energy up and making us believe that we’re in for one heck of a show.
In the edit, we get to see some of the weirder moments from seasons past, some faces that I’m sure we’ll be seeing tonight and over the course of the next few weeks and some of the unlucky folks who waited in line for hours just to be laughed at…instead of laughed with…
We also get to hear about all of the fabulous prizes that the winner will get—although, to be quite honest, so far the development deals offered to past winners really haven’t amounted to much… (It’s not like we’re enjoying the “Must See TV” of “Pick-A-Color” starring Dat Phan every Thursday night, are we?)
For comedians, what this show is REALLY about is exposure…higher visibility. Nearly every comedian who makes it past the first round finds themselves being in demand in more clubs…or bouncing up from the ranks of “show openers” to “features” or from “features” to “headliners.” (And while that SEEMS like a good thing, sometimes the performers just weren’t ready for that jump…but let’s not start this year with snarky bitterness. Let’s start the year off with the hope that this year, Last Comic Standing will present us with a talented and funny performer who will rocket to further much deserved fame and fortune.
We begin the show properly on the frigid streets of New York, outside of the wonderful Gotham Comedy Club (which plays host to the show “Live At Gotham” on Comedy Central—an excellent place to find out about up & coming comedy talent.) As there is with EVERY open casting call for Last Comic Standing, there is a line stretching from Gotham all the way to Metropolis of wannabes, no hopers and semi-deluded young comedians.
Here’s a dirty secret—very few comedians who you will actually get to see and learn about on Last Comic Standing actually come from the open casting call. In every city where LCS runs auditions, certain trusted club managers and agents can arrange a pre-scheduled time for comedians that they are convinced can have a real chance of making it on the show. Of course, it’s all edited together so it LOOKS like these comedians are just waiting their turn—but for most of those who may have waited 12 hours or more in line, the best they can hope for is to get quickly ushered on stage…spit out 30-45 seconds of their act before they’re ushered just as quickly off stage.
What the producers are looking for, here, isn’t undiscovered talent… No, they’re really looking to film the crazy people who make the audition process seem like a total freak show.
And that’s why comics have a love/hate relationship with this show. They love the potential for network tv exposure...but they hate the process they have to go through to try to get it.
And that’s why I promised myself not to be bitter.
Speaking of bitter…did I mention it was cold in New York? Bill Bellamy decides to find out how many hours in the bitter cold some of our New York hopefuls have been waiting. One guy says he’s been waiting 30 hours…another guy says that HE’D been waiting since 9 the previous night…and one woman says she’d been out there for an hour and a half.
“Well, I didn’t want to get robbed” was her reasoning for her lack of fortitude in the face of the cold.
And, speaking of cold…so will the reception be for many of these young hopefuls from the brand new panel of talent scouts. Gone are the two guys who book talent for The Tonight Show—Ross Mark and Bob Read—and in their place are three faces familiar to fans of Last Comic Standing…as they all competed in the second and third seasons of the show. Alonzo Bodden, Kathleen Madigan and Ant.
Alonzo reminds us that he was a runner up in Season Two and was the winner (unseen on NBC) of Season Three. He predicts that he’ll be hosting LCS in Season Twelve. If there IS a Season Twelve, my money will be on Buck Starr to win it all. He’ll be due by then.
Ant… Hmmmmm. What to say about Ant?
All right, let’s get this out in the open. I’m not a fan of Ant. I’ve got my reasons but he’s going to be on EVERY episode of this show and if I complain about him every time he opens up his mouth, these recaps will never end.
Ehhhhhh, one bite of snark snack won’t kill us, will it?
He says that his having been on Last Comic Standing was life changing. Yeah, for me too. Up until then I’d lived my entire life without ever having to know there was a comedian named Ant. Sometimes life changes aren’t always good for everyone.
Kathleen Madigan…she’s a sweetheart. I’ve traded some MySpace messages with her after seeing her on a show on the Golf Channel (seriously). She was one of my comedy favorites BEFORE she appeared on Season Two…and she’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to getting any sense of the show Jay Mohr WANTED this show to be—which was a show about comedians hanging out and being naturally funny with each other when not on stage.
Oooooh, I said Jay Mohr’s name, didn’t I? Yeah. Might be the only time it gets mentioned—as I don’t think the show will ever bring him up again.
The judges take their places…let’s start leading the lambs to the slaughter. And try to remember the crazy dynamics here—our judges are comedians. Unlike the super celebrity guest judges of previous years’ second round of judging, after the Tonight Show guys weeded out the contenders from the pretenders—these judges are still comedians trying to establish themselves in the mind of the public…and here they are on national television with an opportunity to show the world how funny THEY are…while judging ALL OF THE OTHERS on how funny THEY are…
In other words, strap yourselves in…this is going to get a little bumpy.
NEW YORK AUDITIONS:
First up is Danny Morsel…who has strapped a dummy to his chest and proceeds to present us with a demonstration of combat dancing. Whatever it is…it’s not stand-up comedy…AND THE FREAK SHOW HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN.
Kathleen helpfully reminds us of the process. They see a bunch of comics throughout the day. If two of them like what they see in a comic, that comic comes back for a nightly showcase…and if they do well there…then…they move on. (To what?—Well, that’s supposed to be a secret…so, we’ll treat it like a secret.)
Lori Chase, a bubbly blonde wearing pink yarn testicle clacker balls down the front of her shirt, tells us that if she wins Last Comic Standing it will change her life—which is the Last Comic Standing equivalent of “World Peace.”
Ant tries to stop her after her opening line (which, reports from the battlefront have indicated was definitely a trend with Ant during this entire process and in every city they visited) but Kathleen encourages Lori to “dig deeper.” Ant isn’t interested in hearing any more—and Kathleen gets in the second best zinger of this episode. “Come on, Ant…your hair’s on, you’re sitting down…just hear it.”
And I’m officially in love with Kathleen Madigan.
More about the AntMat later, I’m sure.
Lori’s second joke makes Kathleen and Ant laugh. Alonzo still isn’t getting her overly wordy, hyper-girl style…but in the words of the freestyle group Seduction, “It takes two to make a thing go right” and she’s the first one that we see that we’ll get to see again. (And she’s excited about this… Actually, I think Lori gets excited when she’s given free bread at Olive Garden.)
Willy Sacco is up next and he makes Season One’s Eddie Pepitone seem entirely mentally balanced. Willy is giggly and plays a trumpet and is afraid of the camera—and that’s when he’s still outside and in line. Cut to backstage and Bill is trying to suss out if Willy’s nervous. Willy’s not nervous. Willy’s not even on this planet—so why would he be nervous?
“You know what’s weird?” Willy giggled. “Me!”
Some people are insane-funny and other people are insane-psychotic-killers…and it couldn’t have been clear to the judges exactly what Willy was…but, when Willy tossed out Snagglepuss’ “Heavens To Murgatroyd” line as a total non-sequiter, it gave Ant the opportunity to follow with “Exit…Stage Left.” Even.
That brings us to our first official montage of freaks from the Freak Show. A dentist comedian, a pudgy splits-doing street walker, a guy who tells bad jokes in a shirt with a target on it and he encourages the judges to throw fruit at him…etc. etc. etc.
That montage serves as serious counterpoint to the next “real” contestant (i.e. “Those that get their names put up in graphics on the screen.”)—Dwayne Kennedy. I’ve seen Dwayne on ComedyCentral before…he is a very serious cat (if I can pretend to be Franklyn Ajaye for a moment—and if you don’t know who Franklyn Ajaye is, well, y’all know how to use Google…look him up!)
Dwayne exudes ultimate confidence—he walks to the stage slowly, like he knows what he’s going to be doing once he gets there. He’s got a drink in one hand—and he talks like he’s just talking to you…and he happens to be talking about serious subjects and making them funny. He’s not falling down, he’s not dancing, he’s not being corny, cheesy or any other food-related analogies…he’s just talking about what’s on his mind and being both smart and funny. Without much convincing, the panel waves him on to the showcase.
Michelle Buteau is next. She’s half Jamaican and half Haitian…but she exudes a certain Jenny-From-The-Block fierceness about her.
Dirty secret—I’ve been told by more than one comedian that Ant stopped them during their auditions while they were doing their act and requested that they make a joke about their ethnic background. Weird.
Kathleen likes her stuff, Alonzo likes her stuff…Ant doesn’t. But, as a sample in a Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock song once sang “It takes two to make a thing go right” and Michelle’s coming back. However, Kathleen warns Michelle that she better not let the two of them who voted for her down when she comes back for the showcase.
Bill Bellamy is back working the line. He talks to April Brucker and her nasty mouthed dummy, May. They didn’t put April’s name up, but I recognized her…and it’s a shame you don’t get to see her actual act. Actually, they didn’t put April’s name up…because we’re back in Montageland…this time, about people who brought puppets or dummies…
…which leads us to Harry Berberian…who doesn’t get a laugh with his act, but the dragon hand puppet—Hortense—gets a laugh by giving a negative commentary about Harry’s “failure” in this audition. It’s not enough, he’s gone.
In walks a man after my own heart—a man who knows how snappy a good sweater vest can be. Joe DeVito. Again—you can tell when a comedian has some experience…they just seem more confident, more self-assured…less in need of instant validation from the judges. Joe comes out and explains how he’s been temping at the place that laid him off—and how everyone there is weirded out because they know that he’s come back there to shoot them. He says that he would never do that—because he’s more of a strangler… “It’s got that personal touch,” he explained. No question about it, Joe’s coming back.
Oh, look! Our nachos have arrived! Just in time for the first commercial break, too!
(As part of Last Comic Standing, NBC is running a promotion where they’ll text you a “Joke of the Day.” It costs money. And it’s not a good joke. So, let your pal pg-13 save you a buck or two.
The set-up of the joke was “How much does it cost a pirate to get his ears pierced?”
The punchline:Click to see Spoiler:A buccaneer
And we’re back…
We’re still in New York—so, it looks like that even with two hours, we’re not going to every city that held auditions tonight.
Bill Bellamy, still working the line outside, takes over a cell phone conversation and suddenly realizes that it’s been far too many years since he left MTV (or since Fastlane ended) and no one remembers him anymore.
Back inside, the auditions continue. Jason Scarlatti takes the stage. Jason is gay. It is unfortunate but too often true that gay stand-up comedians often talk about nothing other than being gay. (cough, cough, Ant, cough.) Jason talks briefly about how he has both a lisp and effeminate hand gestures—so he can’t rob a bank. He then says the following words which alert all comedians that something really hacky is about to happen. Jason says “I think that it would look something like this.” It doesn’t often matter what follows that—it simply can’t be anything good.
And, in Jason’s case…it isn’t. Ant’s laughing his AntMat off…but Kathleen gives him the gong and sends him on his way.
Kathleen then intros another Freak Show montage for us. Out of context sequences of people making funny noises, doing funny dances, wearing bad sweaters…white boy beatboxing… Cue the sound fx guy with his finger on the “crickets” button…and GO CRICKETS BUTTON.
We get a guy who tries to do a joke about the names of the judges. He gets Ant’s name right…but not Alonzo’s… In the words of the old Knight Templar who’d been sitting around keeping watch over the Holy Grail in the third Indiana Jones movie—“He chose…poorly.”
Dirty secret—a LOT of comedians, calling the moment as we’ve all been trained to do, started off their auditions by mentioning the judges—who, remember, are the only audience for these auditions…and for comedians who depend on crowd work, that’s pretty much a nail in the coffin. I’ve been told that anyone who started that way was shut down almost immediately—ESPECIALLY those who called Ant “Simon,” Alonzo “Randy” or Kathleen “Paula.”
The line is STILL stretching all the way to the stadium where Roy Hobbs is tearing the cover off the ball playing for the New York Knights. Imagine waiting around for two days in the cold just to have your dreams crushed in 37 seconds or less?
Chris White’s dreams are on the line next. Nerdy, ginger haired, Harry Potter looking guy who once worked at the Washington Post, felt his life was in a rut, saw an article on comedy club open mics and…now he says things like “A lot of people think that I’m Irish because I’m drunk and my dad was a leprechaun.”
“A lot of people don’t know what freckles are,” Chris said. “Freckles are the marks you get every time you disappoint Jesus.”
All three judges laughed…and Chris is coming back.
Merick Teti then rushes the stage…he starts to tell a joke about his girlfriend…he gets to where a punchline should be, and there isn’t one there…and he realizes that…and he quits right then and there…on his own.
It’s like he was playing the Home Game of Last Comic Standing by himself and rolled snake-eyes.
Amy Schumer is up next. She’s a bit awkward, a bit geeky (but in a good way) and she tells the story of how she always thought she was prettier than she really was because her mom had built her up so much before she socialized with other kids.
It’s a cool creative gambit—because she imbues her material with a delightfully false sense of happiness…when so much of comedy comes from dark and cynical places. (Even if the end result crushes that false sense of happiness, one rarely sees a rose bloom on a comedy stage.)
It’s obvious that Alonzo isn’t as much of a fan of Amy as Ant is (and Ant LOVED Amy’s reference to her younger self’s Cats: The Musical shirt, which she said proved how awesome she was when she was younger) but Kathleen is interested in seeing more of Amy…so she’ll be back.
The stage is handed over to Jane Condon from Connecticut. To say that she, too, has a different mindset than most of the New York-based performers seen here in this show would be a bit of an understatement. She presents a very WASPy, Pottery Barn, Soccer Mom Who Pledges To NPR, kind of vibe… She also presents a street joke in her opening.
A street joke is what you might just call “a joke.” Most modern comedians don’t really tell “jokes”—they do “bits” or they work “material” and those bits and that material really HAS to be theirs and all theirs. Nobody really owns a street joke—which means that it isn’t “stealing” to use one on stage…but, neither is it that impressive.
Jane’s joke is “I don’t know what the big deal is with same sex marriages. My husband and I have been having the same sex for twenty six years.”
That joke is so old; it’s got whiskers longer than ZZ Top if they’d fallen asleep next to Rip Van Winkle. Yet, there’s Kathleen Madigan…cackling at it like a school girl. And Ant, who Joe Rogan pointed out was using all manner of unoriginal material when he’d tried out for Season One’s Last Comic Standing, loved it too… Doesn’t matter what Alonzo or anyone who thinks that comedians should always strive to be as original as they can feels about it—she’s coming back for the night show.
She’s so happy about moving on that she jumps around until she breaks her hip. Just kidding about the broken hip…but she is more mature than any of the other women who have made it to the night show…and that, in and of itself, is kind of cool. I just wish her material was as cool.
Next up is Arj Barker. I know Arj Barker. I’ve worked with Arj Barker. Arj Barker is one of my favorite comedians working today. (Check out my MySpace page…he’s in my Top Friends group.) Arj is crazy smart…incredibly funny. Yay for Arj!
Dirty secret—Arj has been part of a comedy show known as the Marijuana-Logues…which also starred VH1’s Best Week Ever’s Doug Benson… Not to give too much away, but let’s file this secret under “Foreshadowing.”
Arj uses his audition time to give props to the US Military…how it’s the greatest military in the world and how no one can learn our Military’s secrets…unless they watch the Discovery Channel, where they divulge our secrets in every show.
“In conclusion,” Arj imagines the Discovery Channel documentarian saying, “the only way to destroy this tank is to cut THIS wire…right here. And to put explosives right there. We’ll be right back with more Things Civilians Shouldn’t Know…all this week on High Treason Week, here on the Discovery Channel.”
Arj makes it to the next round. And you should check out his online cartoon—Arj & Poopy. What WILL they do next?
And that’s all we see from the auditions. To everyone I didn’t mention who was there…guess those hours of waiting around really WERE for nothing. Sorry.
ON TO THE NEW YORK SHOWCASE!!!
We return to Gotham later that night and all the seats are filled with audience members. We get to see a short set by Bill Bellamy. I don’t mind this—but, isn’t he the host ALL SEASON? Why are we seeing him do comedy in this heavily edited down presentation of the first casting site’s showcase night?
Whatever. Bill…you’re funny. But, how about we get back to the people whose lives are either going to be changed or not, huh?
Just then—we leave Bill on stage and go backstage…where we meet somebody they hadn’t bothered showing us in the audition process. Matt Kazam…who for some reason makes me think that he should be a contestant on Top Chef (which also debuted their new season tonight…) Maybe that’s why Matt’s nervous? He’s on the wrong show?
We also see Pete Dominick. I know Pete by reputation. He’s very funny. He gives the best answer to the “How would winning Last Comic Standing change your life?” question—he says that he’d count his prize winning money “over and over again…”
We cut back to the main room, where Ant is explaining the rules.
Wait a moment. Why is ANT explaining the rules? Doesn’t this show HAVE a host? Isn’t that host’s name BILL BELLAMY? If I want to watch Ant explain to me what a gigantic scale does…there’s already a show on the air where I can watch him do that… Why is he getting his peanut butter in my Last Comic Standing chocolate anyway?
Ant gets the crowd whipped up for the Capitol One No Hassle Audience Favorite—who will win $1000 and a spot in the second round. If it weren’t for corporate branding and sponsorship, this might be known as the Dan Naturman award.
Kathleen then takes the mic to introduce the first comedian of the showcase.
Wait a moment. Why is Kathleen introducing the first comedian to the stage? Doesn’t this show HAVE a host? Isn’t that host’s name BILL BELLAMY?
Pete Dominick is first. He’s a funny guy who plays with the conventions of stand-up by eliciting an applause break with a standard “beg for applause” line and then turns it on his head. He also explains how he’s named his daughter carefully, to make certain she never has sex…that’s why they named her “Grandma.”
Jump cut edit to Victor Varnado being on stage. I don’t remember Victor from the auditions. Trust me, I’d remember Victor. Victor is a black albino.
I’m going to repeat that.
Victor—in addition to being very funny and to being the producer of some wickedly funny short films—is a black albino. He has light skin, light hair (although he’s currently bald) and people ask him “So, Victor…you’re a black albino…what are your super powers?”
Victor—who I’ve seen on ComedyCentral plenty of times before—says that as a black albino, he can do things that other black people can’t do—like put on sunscreen…or catch cabs.
“I can catch as many cabs as I want. They don’t even know I’m black until I hop in the back and I’m like ‘TO COMPTON!”
After explaining that comedy feels good—but not as good as sex…although, if you have a good night with comedy, you might get to have sex—Dwayne Kennedy comes back, as he was told to earlier in the day, and maintains that same cool demeanor (but he’s now drinking out of a different beverage container) that got him a call back. Dwayne’s bit about Louis Farrakhan’s cancer making him need the best Jewish doctors is smart, ironic, edgy…and fearless.
We see Big Jay Oakerson for half a second before they cut to our second commercial break.
Time for another round of drinks, right?
On the alt-comedy fan board known as A Special Thing, comedian Andy Kindler is quoted as saying “In a perfect world, all the comedians would be allowed to remain standing.”
Just something to think about.
And we’re back…
And…ewwwwwwww…we’ve come back to a segment detailing Ant’s time on the show. Ant is talking about how hard it was, to condense your entire act into two minutes of audition time…and they show a clip of Ant on stage doing THE VERY JOKE THAT JOE ROGAN (who was one of the guest judges that night) POINTED OUT WAS USED IN THE MOVIE “BOILER ROOM.”
All right, calm down. There’ll be time enough to blaze a trail on Ant later on.
Of course, comparing the THEN Ant with the NOW Ant in this segment is proof enough that Ant’s head is covered by an area rug.
After that horrible memory is replayed for the fear it will instill in Americans everywhere, we cut back to the Showcase where Alonzo Bodden is introducing the next act.
Wait a minute. Why is Alonzo introducing the next act? Doesn’t this show HAVE a host? (…ok, ok, I’m sure you’re getting tired of that gag.)
We see Wali Collins talking about the differences in being kids now from when he was a kid. I like his use of the microphone to describe how tourists look over the edge of the top of a double decker bus when they take a tour through Harlem.
Michelle Buteau is back. She’s still Jamaican and Haitian. I’m more than a little surprised she hasn’t come up with the expected hacky joke that combines her ethnicities—as in “Hey, I’m Jamaican and Haitian… I’m a Jamatian…just a figment though...”
She ends her set with a little rump shake. I know it couldn’t have done much for Ant.
Chris White is still nerdy. He explains how finding a hair on the thigh of a girl he was making out with let him know that he was doing better than she thought he’d do on that date. “That means, I beat the spread” he explained.
Lori Chase is back—as perky as ever. She explains that Gotham used to be a strip club and she’s just happy they let her stay. She has a style that is somewhat reminiscent of Caroline Rhea, with lots of scrunchy-nosed asides to the audience.
Jay Oakerson, seen before the break, is back. I know Jay by reputation as well—and he’s funny. Here, he talks about how people don’t assume that he’s Jewish. “Some people are racist against Jews. Some people don’t believe the Holocaust happened—I call those people Mel Gibson.”
Backstage, Connecticut street joke teller Jane Condon answers the “What would you do if you won Last Comic Standing?” question with a total brown-nose answer about how if she won she’d get the chance to open for Kathleen or Alonzo or Ant.
In the showcase set, she talks about how her boys listen to “the rap music.” I liked it…but I liked it a whole lot better the FIRST time I heard that same premise during the FIRST season of LCS when Cory Kahaney discussed her Ill Na-Na.
“When I’m in my kitchen, I like listening to REAL music,” Jane explained. “Aretha…Tina Turner…Billy Joel.”
Well, as Meat Loaf once sang…two out of three ain’t bad.
Still, this New York audience eats up her Connecticut charm…and all the judges seem to dig her.
Next up, another comedian who I know by reputation—another comedian who is by all accounts an incredibly funny man—Costaki Economopolus.
Dirty secret—I was watching LCS with my girlfriend and she said “That name’s got to be fake, right?” Right…someone going into show business is going to just WHIP UP a name like Economopolus out of thin air.
Costaki gets about 15 seconds of LCS airtime…considerably less than what Andy Warhol had promised him…and certainly far less than what he deserved, I’m sure.
Calise Hawkins, looking a lot like Rain Pryor, is another performer whose audition process wasn’t shown. She’s got a rhythm a lot like Wanda Sykes and she tells a funny joke about smart guys who talk to her like thugs when they’re in the club.
Jump cut to Arj Barker, expressing the eternal question of “when do you wear a big puffy down vest.” Damn, he’s funny.
And I think it’s time we took a bathroom break…and the fact that this is another commercial break gives us a good excuse to jump right in… See you in a few minutes!
(Time for another “Joke of the Day.”
The set-up of the joke was “What did the tortilla say at the end of the tightrope?”
The punchline:Click to see Spoiler:Tos TADA!!!
If that would have cost you a dollar, you’d have been mad, wouldn’t you?)
And everyone’s back from the bathroom. Did everything come out ok?
WE’RE STILL IN NEW YORK…STILL MORE OF THE SHOWCASE COMING UP!
Backstage, Amy Schumer admits that she’s just starting her third year of doing stand-up. Three years, in this business, is nothing. Amy, who looks to me a little like tennis star Lindsay Davenport, says that when she looks around at the other people in this competition, she feels like she’s crawling and they’re all running.
Dirty secret—Elayne Boozler has said that when she started doing comedy, she “bombed for five years” and she only stuck with it because Andy Kaufman told her that it’s supposed to be like that in the beginning.
Meanwhile, Joe DeVito explained that he “never said he wanted to be rich and famous. I just want the power to crush people’s dreams. That’s all I want.”
On any other reality show, that’d make him the villain. On Last Comic Standing, you just want to reach through the tv and pinch his cheek. You go, Joe! Crush away!
We see Joe on stage saying “It’s true, what they say, that as you get older, you start to turn into your parents. It really hit me when I was trying on my mom’s wedding dress.”
Joe also let’s us know that it’s a bad sign that you’re getting heavy if you leave a table saying “Man…I’ve got to get out of these sweat pants.”
Next up, the previously mentioned Matt Kazam. Remember when I pointed out how Pete Dominick flipped the tables on the time honored tradition of comedians “begging for applause” by mentioning honorable achievements from their lives? Well, without Pete’s sense of irony, Matt just got married—so, clap for him. His joke that follows lands with a thud, so Matt goes into a “saver” routine (a “saver” is something a comedian has developed to do when a joke doesn’t do very well—some comedians are so good with saver lines that even if the jokes they tell DO work, they’ll do savers anyway—see also London, Jay) about how his jokes feel like they’re going through the UN interpreters…and people ARE laughing, it’s just delayed.
It’s a funny act-out (an act-out is, as it sounds, when a comedian uses physicality to mime a scenario to enhance a joke) and that’s Matt Kazam’s portion of this show.
Amy Schumer crawls to the stage next. No, really, she strides confidently…which makes her a liar from a few minutes ago. She continues with the “positive but unreasonably so” persona she exhibited during the auditions—and she gets a good response with a bit about how her dating life picked up “after I got my braces off…my legs.” (I bet Amy’s a fan of Wendy Liebman, a comedienne who is a master at the “twist the entire meaning of the sentence with the last word” technique.)
Amy does her own applause begging by mentioning her friend that just had a baby—but that’s just a set-up for a couple more “expectational twists”—all in all, a nice…if mannered…job by Amy.
Amy, in a post-set interview, says that she “probably wouldn’t have made it this far if she didn’t have something.” Which is the opposite of what that lawyer with the extremely drug resistant tuberculosis said when he landed in Europe.
Evidently, that’s the end of the clips from the New York Showcase. Matt—didn’t I say his portion of this show was over?—Kazam says that they’re all waiting for the decisions to be made. He imagines that everyone else killed while he had the worst set of the night. No need to imagine that, Matt…it’s pretty much how it was edited and shown to the country.
The comedians are brought out onto the stage and are standing on risers like a high school glee club while Kathleen Madigan reads off the names of those who have advanced to the next round. (Say it with me…”I thought this show HAD a host?”)
NEW YORK RESULTS:
The first one announced…Amy “Crawling” Schumer.
…and in the minds of more than a couple of established comedians standing on those risers, trying to remember what they’re agent told them--“smile, the camera may be on you to catch your reaction”—a cold wind blows.
Remember—Last Comic Standing is not about finding the best unknown talent or the best amateur comedians. Yes, it’s nice when an unknown does well…but there’s no particular reason that someone moves on in this show just because they’ve “got the potential to be good.”
Next one moving on…Joe “Disgruntled Temp” DeVito.
And the next red envelope goes to…Arj “Down Vest” Barker.
Followed by Dwayne “Not Holding His Beverage Now” Kennedy.
That’s four. I don’t know how many they’re taking from New York…but there are some faces who got major screen time so far in the show who haven’t been named yet: Chris, Michelle, Lori. There are also some major players whose names haven’t been announced yet: Victor, Jay, Pete…
So, when the music changes and the mic gets passed over to Ant…who begins to announce the winner of the Capitol One Audience Favorite…that cold wind turns into a wicked Nor’easter.
The winner of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS and moving on to the next round is…Jane “Connecticut in the Hiz-ouse” Condon.
She’s excited. She throws herself at Ant—sorry, but there’s no future in THAT, Jane. She says she just wants to kiss everyone. I guess that’s how they roll in the C to the T.
The music changes again—it’s faster now, like when those home makeover shows are in the mad rush to put all of the furniture in place before the time limit—and Kathleen’s got the mic again. Evidently, there’s only one envelope left. Only one of the dozen or so remaining contestants will be moving on…
And that is…Lori “Clacker Clacker” Chase.
Lori says that this is the best experience of her life so far…and that she’s going to work her ass off and give that audience the time of their life. Maybe she really WAS a stripper who was allowed to stay behind?
Speaking of staying behind…that means the end of the line for Big Jay, Nerdy Chris, Albino Victor, Sarcastic Pete, Bootylicious Michelle, Frazzle-haired Calise…and the rest. The Last Comic Standing Train is leaving you behind in the New York Platform, I’m afraid.
Next stop…the Great White North.
With the exchange rate, are we going to get 30% cheaper laughs? We’ll find out after the break!
One of the new wrinkles in this season’s Last Comic Standing is that the search has gone “worldwide”—if you can call Australia, Canada and Britain “worldwide”—as President Bush does when he says that the world was supporting his foreign policy adventures.
Many countries just do not have a tradition in stand-up comedy—something that English comedian Eddie Izzard learned when he used his fluency in French to take stand-up to France, to do in France. He played in front of packed audiences…of ENGLISH people living in France! The entire exercise seemed silly when it became clear that it was like a multi-lingual game of telephone. Eddie still made it funny, though…and you can find that very performance as an extra in his “Dress To Kill” DVD.
Break’s over…time to do this all again!
New York was cold…Montreal Canada actually has snow on the ground. You know what THAT means? THAT’S RIGHT—SNOW COVERED FREAKS! The freak show is being carefully patrolled by a Mountie on horseback. Is he real or can they just be rented out—like for children’s parties and the like?
Bill Bellamy is nowhere to be seen—but he’s doing a voice over listing off some of the great comedic talents who have crossed the border from Canada to America to bring us the funny. Remember—these immigrants are simply doing the jobs that no Americans want to do.
Kathleen says that she’s hoping the Canadians simply blow her away—and the editors choose that moment to zoom in on a comedian waiting in line, warming his hands on a fresh plop of horsey-doo. Mmmmmmmm…
First up for the Montreal audition clips is Jason Morneau. Jason’s got a pierced nose, multi-colored hair that is braided, spiked and dreadlocked. He’s definitely giving off an alt-comedy vibe—and he launches into a character driven piece about how the world is so horrible, there’s nothing to laugh at.
Alt-comedy (alternative comedy) can be great…because it plays with the expectations of the form. But Ant’s not feeling it. He compares what Jason’s doing to a poetry slam. Jason, probably aware that he wasn’t winning them over, starts to explain “what he does”—which isn’t going to help him win them over. Alonzo coldly says that he doesn’t have any jokes—which may be true but that doesn’t have to mean that he’s not funny… He’s just not going to make these three people laugh on this cold Canadian morning. They let him dance around on stage for a moment or two more before moving on…
Next up is Richard Ryder. Richard is gay. Richard isn’t gay in the same way that Jason from New York was gay. Richard is a beefy bear of a man. And I’ll be honest…I’m just trying to put enough words in this description so that when I finally give in to the temptation of shortening Richard’s first name to a common diminutive of his first name it is far enough away from his last name that you don’t put it together and giggle uncontrollably as I did while watching the show…
That’s…so unbecoming of a recapper, to find such a cheap joke like that funny. I’m actually impressed that Dick…I mean, Richard…doesn’t actually stoop to that level himself. Well, at least not as edited for network television anyway.
“I’m going to be 40 this year, which in gay years means…’I’m dead.’” That gets a laugh from the panel. He seems to be a bit rushed and his bit about camping doesn’t start promisingly—but Richard is another comedian who just exudes a healthy positive vibe from a stage that often champions negative and cynical mindsets. Alonzo points that out and thanks him for it…and Richard will be coming back for the showcase.
We next get a montage of jokes that didn’t connect with the judges. These are tough for a comedian to watch—because telling jokes to a cold room that only has three people in it is not a normal environment for comedy…and some of these jokes probably KILL in a crowded comedy club at night…with a two drink minimum.
So, some love, please, for Max Mault, Perry Perlmutar, and Olivier Machabert (who got bigger laughs from the panel when he did his jokes in French—take THAT Eddie Izzard.) Again—remember that our panelists are all used to being funny themselves…so, when they send Olivier off with three part harmony on the word “No,” it’s meant to make us laugh.
Next up…Gerry Dee.
Wait a moment! Gerry Dee! I remember Gerry Dee from previous auditions, right? Oh, there are people on the FORT who LOVED Gerry Dee and couldn’t believe that he didn’t make it in then…and he’s back again! (A more cynical recapper might suggest something about how every mouse thinks that THIS is the time that he gets the cheese and not the trap—but…I’m not there yet, FORTskateers!)
It’s interesting—Gerry’s audition set isn’t super strong. You get the definite sense that the judges WANT to like what Gerry’s doing more than they are... His jokes about having an Arabic friend and being scared of how they talked when he went over there for lunch get the panel laughing—but it seems “off” to me. Imagine a white guy doing Margaret Cho’s act from the perspective of the next door neighbor. It’s one thing of Margaret makes fun of how her mother talks… You know what I’m saying?
Gerry does enough to get him to the showcase. If you want to find signs of “producer meddling” you could claim this is an example—because obvious Gerry’s got a good storyline going—the guy who almost made it to the boat in Season Four tries again in Season Five…but the more important truth is that Gerry is a very funny guy. Maybe we didn’t get to see his funniest stuff because the editors know that he’ll be using some of his funniest material later on in the show.
Remember that, FORTskateers, when you scratch your head and say “Why did THAT comedian make it when this OTHER comedian, who was much funnier, didn’t?” The editors know that they can put in the funniest stuff from someone who doesn’t move on—they’re not “burning” that material for them. On the other hand, someone who does well and moves on will probably want to use those jokes again later on as the season progresses.
We’re in good hands with the Magical Elves, believe me.
Angela Mairorando-Thurston is up next talking about how people say she sounds like a lot of other people. Well, she looks like Carol Kane and sounds a little like Maria Bamford—so, I’m buying this. She says that people say she sounds a little like Darth Vader. To me, that’s pretty funny. She then acts it out…sounding not like the Sith Lord, but instead sounding like Lina Lamont (from “Singing in the Rain.”) The judges…not as charmed by this as I was...
Kathleen sends her off with the “I like you, but I don’t know if your material is right for this show…” line. It sounds comforting…and I have to imagine that it must be tough, in a business where everybody runs into everybody somewhere on the road, to really “put down” someone you might end up working with in a few months. At least for someone like Kathleen who has a soul and a conscience.
Kathleen muses, after Angela is sent off, that she wants to see more funny women.
Cue the montage of unfunny women.
Oooooh, and the first person in the montage is someone that I know…someone that I’ve seen be very funny. Jennifer Grant—you did NOT deserve to lead off this unfortunate montage. Let’s assume the best of the others in this montage, then, too: Julia Bruce, Katherine Ryan, Lauri Elliott, Bonnie McBride…
Wait. Bonnie McBride was wearing a huge fur hat. I mean, Lauri Elliott had a funny joke about punching her husband as a sign of being more spontaneous…Bonnie McBride has a huge fur hat. Not the same.
Ant stops Bonnie’s act with a “Please. There are people cold outside.”
Well, by that approach, the whole open casting charade could have been skipped and they could have just seen the people who had scheduled auditions—but where’s the fun in THAT?
Well, after every montage of people not doing as well as you’d hope—there has to be the exception that proves the rule…so, we get Debra DiGiovanni. She might remind some faithful LCS viewers of Jessica Kirson…but not as hopped up on goofballs. She’s still big, bold and brassy…but not in a spider monkey on crack sort of way.
There’s an excellent comedienne based out of Seattle named Peggy Platt. Peggy is the only woman in 27 years to have won the Seattle International Comedy Competition. Debra soooooo reminds me of Peggy—and that’s unfortunate because unless you’ve lived in Seattle and followed the local comedy scene, none of you could possibly be reminded of Peggy when you see Debra…so that astonishingly brilliant observation is wasted…as was this entire paragraph.
Debra has a husky (dare I say Peggy Platt-like) voice…and from time to time just bursts out into an explosion of a smile…and she has an interesting approach of telling a story about herself and her life that could seem, on the surface, to be somewhat sad…but she tells it in a way that reveals the way that she convinces herself that her sad condition is somehow a good thing. It’s amazingly relatable and charming…and, yes, funny.
Kathleen is digging her from the get-go.
“Some people consider me a spinster, but I hate that word. I prefer to be known as a retro-sexual. That means I haven’t had sex in twenty years…and I like to do it to 80’s music. Who’s hungry like the wolf? ME!!! Don’t make me do The Reflex—I’ll do it, I’ll do it…I’m serious. Anyway, I know what you’re thinking now…THIS lady has a cat—AND YOU’D BE RIGHT!”
It’s more than enough to send her on to the showcase.
And that’s more than enough to send us to the break!
(Time for another “Joke of the Day.”
The set-up of the joke was “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?”
The punchline:Click to see Spoiler:A carrot.
It’s moments like these that make me think I’ve made a horrible career choice.)
Enough…let’s back get to the Montreal Auditions
Up next is DeAnne Smith. DeAnne has a distinct look—2/3rds Harry Potter, 1/3rd k.d. lang. (I had other longer equations that included the previously mentioned Wendy Liebman and the awesomely funny Margaret Smith…but let’s just stick with the boy wizard and the girl cowboy.)
If Amy Schumer in New York was a babe in arms, having done comedy for three years, then DeAnne is still fetal…as she’s only been doing comedy for two years.
Her first joke is a “standard construction” joke. By that I mean, it’s a joke that has been worked around in various forms—but still works and can still be considered somewhat original. It’s a bit formulaic.
“A friend of mine died waterskiing recently. And everybody said, ‘At least he died doing what he loved.’ And I guess I didn’t know him that well…because I didn’t know that he loved getting hit by a boat. He died doing what he loved…being torn limb from limb, wrapped up in the propeller.”
Besides, there’s snow on the ground…how recently could that have been, huh? See, I could be a pithy judge of comedy myself. I actually expect jokes to make sense!
Alonzo laughed...but when he finds out that she’s been doing comedy for two years, he’s ready to toss this little fish back into the pond to become a bigger fish. Kathleen wants to at least get her to the showcase…but Ant’s siding with Alonzo. Kathleen asks DeAnne to do one more joke to try to change their minds. The joke brings Alonzo over to Kathleen’s way of thinking. Ant is still skeptical—but he can’t stop her from coming back to the showcase now.
DeAnne comes off stage and is giddy. “Kathleen Madigan likes me. I’m going to MySpace her and we’re gonna be best friends. We’re gonna tour…it’s gonna be awesome. I don’t know who Alonzo is…and that other guy…”
I’m with you, DeAnne…I…am…with…you.
Next…a gorilla in a tuxedo.
OK, it’s not a gorilla in a tuxedo.
It’s a man…wearing a gorilla mask and gorilla hands…in an ill-fitting pinkish beige tuxedo.
And, believe it or not, this is NOT part of the freak show.
This is a serious contender for the title of Last Comic Standing.
He’s Mel Silverback.
Dirty secret: Actually, he’s Dan Licoppe—who has an act of his own—but Mel Silverback is a character he’s developed…and…well…
Because Dan sells Mel 100%--“Hello, I’m Mel Silverback. Originally from Africa…now living in Canada.”—he’s already won over Ant and Alonzo without even having to get into his schtick.
“You’re a hot crowd. I’d love to throw my feces at you, I’m tellin’ you.”
Where else but on a comedy stage does something like that make sense?
He’s coming back to the showcase… Remember that comedians, when you’re thinking about camping out overnight to get an open casting call audition—you could be beaten senseless by a half-Jewish mountain gorilla.
And let's continue this recap in the next posting in this thread...where you'll find out who moves on from Montreal...and the entire audition and showcase recap from San Antonio Texas! Yeee-haw!!!