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Thread: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEOPLE?

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    Jul 2003

    Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEOPLE?

    Good evening and welcome...welcome back to FORT's Last Comic Standing Forum. Another week of auditions and showcases, hope and heartbreak...and you decided to come and join us--that is so cool. Give yourselves a round of applause for supporting live comedy...and for being so cool.

    We only have a couple of rules here... Please turn off your cell phones and try to keep your table conversations to a whisper, that's for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of the people around you. We've got hard working servers making certain you're taken care of as far as food and drink...and a warning that some performers may exercise their freedom of expression to its fullest. In other words, strap in and hold on...our recap is about to begin...

    Hey, Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: The pg13 LCS Recap
    Episode Three: Who are these PEOPLE? (Part One)

    Sometimes, I think NBC just likes to keep potential recappers on their toes. Last week's second episode of this season of Last Comic Standing was titled "Auditions 3"--because the first two-hour episode, which had the first three auditions, was actually auditions 1 and 2 and that made last week's one hour long episode, which was comprised of the fourth and fifth auditions, "Auditions 3."

    Rrrrriiiiiiiiiiight.--Dr. Evil

    What it means is that there's no reason for me to mention this week's first hour of Last Comic Standing because it is exactly the same as what I recapped last week.

    Pardon me while I hit fast forward on my tape. Talk amongst yourselves... I'm sure someone famous did something stupid recently...discuss.

    All right...an hour's worth of Los Angeles and Australian auditions have just whizzed past my eyes...and I didn't laugh once. Proving, I think, once and for all, the importance of...well, you know...timing.

    Speaking of which, time for THIS WEEK'S SHOW!

    Once again, we get two auditions in one hour...which, as we saw last week, means we get less back story on fewer comedians...but, at this stage of the process, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Our travels take us first to London, England--one of my favorite towns on the planet...and the comedy scene over there is both strong and distinctive. Hopefully our trio of judges will bag and bring back a few live ones...


    We launch into our trip to Merry Old England with the iconic double decker bus (which, I understand, are, sadly, being phased out of London) and stepping off of that bus is the iconic Queen Elizabeth II--because hanging with the common folk is such a wonderful trait of English Royalty, no?

    One of our esteemed trio of judges (I'm sorry--officially, they're "talent scouts," but I say let's call a judge "a judge"), Alonzo Bodden explains that he loves English humor because there are two distinct types--the kind that is so high-brow that you have to pretend you get it and the kind where someone throws a pie at you.

    Let's just ignore the idea that any connoisseur of comedy would have to "pretend" to get jokes that they supposedly enjoy for the moment and focus in on the latter style of English humor, because I would offer a shiny British pound to any of these UK auditioners if one of them WOULD actually hit Ant in the face with a pie...

    ...and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment either.

    Our first auditioner is the SpellCheck resistant Thoumas Yianni, who causes Kathleen Madigan to permanently indent her forehead on the judge's--I'm sorry, scout's--table when he tumbles out of his self-introduction into a snore and then asks "Seriously, ladies--can't you sleep through THAT?" In Ant, this numbingly bad joke has caused the Botox has spread beyond his face into the rest of him, leaving him completely paralyzed--WHICH MAKES HIM ALL THE MORE VULNERABLE TO PIE ATTACK, PEOPLE!!!

    Alonzo stops Thoumas from continuing--and Thoumas, as I imagine many auditioners have done but we just haven't been granted the ability to see it, complains that he should be given more time. Ant, awakening from his Botoxian stupor agrees. Thoumas then uses this opportunity to redeem himself to go into a bleep-worthy bit about penile enlargement. This poor decision shocks Kathleen, cracks up both the film crew and Thoumas himself and earns him a "Get out!" from Ant.

    All in all, a successful day for Thoumas, I expect...BUT NO PIE.

    Matt Kirshen is not a child. He's twenty six. He HAS to tell us that because he looks like he might be, at most, fourteen...and not only fourteen, but fourteen in a Dickens-sort of way. He doesn't so much look like a chimney sweep--but he looks like a human chimney broom...I just imagine that the adult chimney sweeps tie a rope around his ankles and then they lower him in, head first, into a chimney, and whatever soot is in that chimney ends up on Matt...and for that, they palm him a farthing.

    I could be wrong. In fact, I am, because Matt is very funny and it's obvious that comedy is his trade, not chimney sweeping or pick-pocketing or dodging artfully.

    "You see articles in the paper saying 'This generation of children are the most unhealthy ever,'" Matt points out to us. "But there were entire generations of children that had the plague. What's less healthy, computer games or trenchfoot? Dungeons & Dragons or dungeons...and dragons."

    "Matt, you sold me on trenchfoot" offers Kathleen, welcoming Matt into the showcase later that night.

    (Of course, had I known that Kathleen was BUYING various World War I-era diseases, I'd have pulled my eBay auction of the body lice that cause trench fever.)

    Outside London's Comedy Store, Bill Bellamy--WAIT... BILL BELLAMY IS IN LONDON??? He didn't go to Sydney, he didn't go to Montreal and he didn't go to San Antonio...but he went to London???

    Sorry, I was just surprised for a moment...surprised not only that Bill was there, but also regarding Bill's discussion with Matt about how long Matt's been doing comedy (five years) and how that's around the time that many comedians "find their voice." This discussion was nice to see on this show, which so often plays down the technical skills necessary to become a quality comedian. Bill's absolutely right--comedians need time to find out who they really are on stage...that many of the first years that you're in comedy, you're both performing what you THINK you should be doing and refining that with what you SEE and FEEL works for you on stage. In the end, these elements come together--and you start to express your unique comedic perspective.

    It was very nice to see this behind-the-curtains concept get some air time.

    Back to the auditions--and the next performer up is Spencer Brown "from London Town" which is just so precious of a self-introduction rhyme that I'm both compelled to want to pinch his cheek and steal it for myself.

    I just don't know if I'm Peter Greyy from Elliott Bay has the same ring to it...or, worse, if I'll have to drench myself in water before taking the stage (which, considering the shoddy electrics in most comedy clubs, would probably be a very bad idea.)

    Spencer is very "large" on stage. Not in size, but in how he projects himself on stage. Big arms, big eyes, big gestures, big vocalizations...

    "Thank you, thank you..." he says, as if the room of three judg--talent scouts--is giving him an ovation. "Or, as our dyslexic friends would say...'Thank you.'"

    Dirty secret--It can be a risky tactic to come to the stage with too much energy or by acting "too big." One of the first things that a comedian has to do on stage is instant win over an audience's natural tendency to not give in to laughter at first. It's like surface tension that you have to break--which is why a good MC at a comedy club is always trying to encourage the audience into feeling positive and inclusive to every performer that comes up. Getting that first laugh "uncrosses the arms"--but you can frighten an audience, like a turtle, by being too big or too energetic for the room at that moment. It takes a skilled comedian to know how to approach the temperamental emotional and energy level of any one particular crowd.

    ...and on this night, it seems for a moment that Spencer has offered up too much big for the questionable strength of his opening joke--and you can see the faces of our talent scouts (got it right, that time) start to sag a little as their expectations didn't seem to be met. Until Spencer, with masterful timing...having created the tension of a joke that seems to have failed, comes back with the tag that releases all of that tension with laughter.

    "...(because it) doesn't affect your speech."

    I can't tell you how good that must feel to drop that line on a crowd that thinks that you didn't tell a good joke. And our talent scouts, as hoodwinked as any audience would have been, appreciate the rug being pulled out from them and give Spencer his due laughter--proving that whatever risks he took in stage energy or approach were worth it.

    He then goes into a bit about a great practical joke to play on old people in mobility scooters. The NBC editors take a great deal of time and effort to help us goofy Americans understand certain Anglicisms in Spencer's vocabulary...like pensioner and motorised (note the lack of a "z", which is how we'd have spelled motorized...and note also that the British don't call a "z" a "zee" but they call a "z" a "zed"--and now I'm just showing off my own Anglophilia, which is probably illegal in some states...) invalid carriage.

    I think, even without the help, we all understand Spencer a great deal better than we understood some of the Ozzies in last week's auditions in Sydney.

    Spencer's act-out of his practical joke (which is to basically pretend to be moving in super slow motion, shouting at the Rascal-rider to slow down) is impressive...and it exhibits a trait of many successful stand-ups (both here and across the pond) that really hasn't been championed by this show previous--the ability to be both smart-funny AND physical. We get plenty of Freak Show Montage moments of people being physical while being dumb-funny...but rarely, on this show, do we see someone acting-out anything good.

    Cheers, Spencer.

    Kathleen loves you, Spencer. Kathleen would buy a Spencer Brown doll if she could. (Has she contacted the RealDoll company? Maybe she could!)

    Spencer is coming back for the showcase.

    Rob Deb is next. Rob looks a little bit like our good friend Joe DeVito if Joe let himself go a bit. That explains Rob's opening bit about how he's auditioning for "Harry Potter and a Table of Pies."

    Sorry Rob, a smirk is all you got for that one.

    Ant explains that what he loves about the English comics is that he could tell them that they're horrible and they're still polite enough to thank him for having done so. Oooooh, if Ant would only go to Liverpool wearing a Man Utd jersey... (But I'd settle for someone hitting him with a pie.)

    And seriously...in this particular interview segment, Ant looks as delusionally disheveled as Janice Dickinson. Scrape the heavy eyeliner off those surgically altered eyes and pull the AntMat off...and let's see Ant for what he really is: a far less funny version of Ross The Intern.

    Anyway, what follows Ant's interview is our first Freak Show Montage of the show--this time centered around Ant telling someone that they're bad and the performers being, somehow, ok with that. (I've got to figure that they've got their OWN version of Celebrity Fit Club and, thus, have no idea who Ant is...and they're thinking that Ant is someone important enough to treat civilly. JUST HIT HIM WITH A PIE!!!)

    The last guy in the montage, after hearing Ant tell him that he's not ready for the show, says that he doesn't think he is either...but still has the "courtesy" of hoping that the talent scouts enjoy the fine food offerings to be found in London. I put "courtesy" in quotes because it is a time honored tradition to joke about the bland cuisine of England. However, having been to London myself, I know that there actually is a great deal of fine food to be had there (although I have to admit that I'm more than a bit partial to Pizza Express, myself.)

    We do a quick sights-of-London transition before we get a friend of Matt Kirshen's in the chimney sweep trade reminding us that we're still watching the London auditions.

    Josh Howie is up next. He's got a bit of a young Woody Allen/Peter Sellers vibe about him. That seems promising.

    Speaking of promising, Josh seems to want the camera crew to promise not to follow him as he cries all the way home if his audition doesn't go well. Obviously, this is a man who doesn't know enough about American reality television...and the only reason many of us watch these shows is to experience the cruel thrill of watching other people's dreams crushed in front of us on a regular basis.

    Josh's audition centers around how he, a nerdy looking bespectacled white Jewish and British man, has been heavily influenced by black culture. It's a classic case of a comedian confounding expectations to mine laughs. Josh talks about the Jewish rap group he started, called "Circumcised." That gets a laugh from our friends at the scouts table.

    As he goes on with this approach, you can tell that Josh is smart...but his jokes are skimming the surface a bit. They're not developing true deep laughs--but what they do is present Josh's intellectual and conversational style...so that when he takes a bit longer to set up a particular punchline (in this case, a joke about a song dealing with the serious difficulties of interfaith relationships) you aren't as impatient as you might be with other performers to get to the punchline that pays off big (the song title, Josh says in a very cold deadpan manner, no different from how he set the joke up, is "Convert, Bitch, Convert" which gets the true deep laughs that he was looking for.)

    Josh is invited to come back for the showcase.

    Hey. Are there any funny women in the United Kingdom? I seem to remember a few--Jennifer Saunders, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard...

    Tiffany Stevenson is the first female auditioner we've seen so far tonight. She's rocking a delightfully casual working-class accent with a touch of an "r" to "l" lisp. For fans of AbFab, think Magda (Kathy Burke) the managing editor of Patsy's magazine. Tiffany takes on how the "Desperate Housewives" of American television can't compete with the actually desperate housewives of England. Her description of Reg, the ninety year old gardener with an artificial hip is enough to welcome her back to the showcase show later that night.

    "Look out, America, the French dog's coming for you" is how Andres Caballero introduces himself to us--and he tagged his boast with a point of the finger. He looks like he should star in a road company presentation of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and his introductory graphic indicates that he's from the Republic of Ecuador and not France...but he's in London and he's on stage auditioning and he's claiming not to have taken his medication today.

    "Mmmmm...dolphins...are gay sharks..." he says, mid-spasm. Kathleen, who may have been enchanted with his scruffy looking charm until that moment, shoots a look over at Ant--remember what I said about how comedy audiences react to racial material; by looking for someone of that race and seeing if it's ok to laugh or not? Well, this is the gay version of that phenomena. Ant, who may have also been enchanted with his scruffy looking charm until that moment, has already seen enough.

    Andres moans with disappointment...or he moans because he started pinching his nipples. Ant seems disgusted by this response and demands to know why he's pinching his nipples. (Like there ever has to be a legitimate REASON for doing that?)

    Andres explains that "when I get nervous, I touch my nipples."

    "Ssswwwwweeeeeet," Kathleen responds (and I believe "responds" is the most accurate word choice), "Like it!"

    Ant dismisses him with an even more culturally bewildering "dosvedanya" and the world has seen the last of Andres "Nervous Nipple Pincher" Caballero.

    Ava Vidal is our next hopeful. I'm going to describe Ava as a smoky voiced black female comedian--first, because she sounds like been huffing on the back of a London cab's exhaust pipe before giving her interview; second, because she is a female comedian; third, because I couldn't think of the politically correct word to use for her since she's not African-American and African-Anglo doesn't make any sense. (Of course, in England, calling someone "black" might also be a pejorative term for describing someone of Indian or Pakistani origins...so, let's just move on to describing her comedy, shall we?)

    Ava explains that she's been doing comedy for three and a half years but she was a prison officer for four years--and that she's learned how to deal with hecklers from her time in prison. Ohhhh, how I'd have loved to have shouted "Lock 'em down!" and then engaged in a series of control maintaining baton beatings on various rude audiences that I've experienced in my career...

    Ava is either very confident or somewhat nervous because her approach to her delivery is rather casual. She seems barely able to muster enough energy to croak out her tale of nearly joining the Nation of Islam. Upon being told by NOI recruiters that white people stole gold and diamonds from black people, Ava points out that she's been watching rap videos on MTV and "we seem to have gotten most of it back."

    That's a very funny line--but she nearly undercuts the entire thing by adding the phrase "Just for a joke, I said that I've been watching MTV" in the middle of how she worded this bit.

    Dirty secret--Although comedians certainly mine their lives for things that others might find funny, there is a distinct difference between an anecdote and a funny story--and what Ava did was to walk dangerously close to an anecdote simply by pointing out that she did something "just as a joke." Comedy rewards the bold--but your friends need reassurance that you didn't actually mean to do what you're about to say you did. Many people feel they could do stand-up comedy because they make their friends laugh by telling their funny anecdotes...but it doesn't quite work that way. Your friends know you, they like you and they share a similar set of references. Audiences just want you to make them laugh...not to tell stories where "you had to be there" or "you had to know the people involved" or "that sounds just like ME complaining about MY job."

    Nevertheless, Alonzo speaks for the group in saying that he thinks that Ava has what it takes to come back for the showcase.

    Which brings us to Buddy.

    Ahhhhh...Buddy, Buddy, Buddy...

    There's a fine line between performance art and insanity. I never know which side of that line Emo Phillips is...or Andy Dick...or, now, Buddy...

    Put Buddy on the USA Network...because they keep saying "Characters Welcome" and Buddy is a character and a half--and I think the character and the half are fighting each other.

    Buddy looks like a bit like Elvis Costello...a little bit like Demetri Martin...a little bit like every college English major pouring over Ayn Rand novels at a local coffee shop while not letting anyone else touch his cache of Splenda... (Maybe even a little bit like Richard E. Grant from "Withnail & I"--but combined with those other things, too...)

    Is it real or is it an act when Buddy starts his kvetching before hitting the stage? Is it real or is it an act when Buddy gets to the stage and says into the mic that he doesn't know what to do now? Is it real or is it an act when he hears the talents scouts tell him to tell a joke and he reacts like he's hearing this for the first time?

    "Why do we send flowers on Valentine's Day?" Buddy wonders. "Fruit! Wouldn't that be great? But what if you were in a fruit shop and you couldn't decide...which would be romantic? A bunch of bananas or a single red grape?"

    Is that a semi-clever joke or is that the serious conundrum of a mind unable to work out a particular answer to a self-made dilemma?

    "Remember, if you're going to send a single red grape...send it express delivery," Buddy explains. "Because there is nothing less romantic...than a raisin."

    Alonzo laughs, Ant rolls his eyes and Kathleen tells Buddy that he's "far out."

    Ant starts to protest that he doesn't think that Buddy is to the caliber of the other comedians that they've advanced. Kathleen tells Ant that he's wrong...and Alonzo says that he likes him.


    Nope. Ant is stomping his feet and refusing to play by the rules. He wants Buddy to tell "a joke"--which clearly means that Ant doesn't get that Buddy IS the joke...that his caffeinated lunatic persona is what makes him funny. There's no hope in him telling a standard set-up/punchline construction joke and winning Ant over...

    Buddy, steps off the stage towards the talent scouts table and jauntily puts his leg up on a chair and says "So, it's jokes you want..." He wants to address Ant directly but he's obviously unaware of his name, so he boldly goes into the woods with "Is it...Francis?"

    Francis! Yes! From now on, Ant should be known as Francis...and someone should shove a pie in Francis' face.

    "Francis, it is!" shouts Kathleen as she reaches around Alonzo to poke her unbelieving and bewigged fellow scout. "Come on, Francis! Come, on!!!"

    Buddy shows a maniacal grin that only a British dentist could love...and there's no stopping the Buddy love from Alonzo and Kathleen now.

    Francis tries to play it off with a very queen-y "We are not amused..." (I think he was going for Queen Elizabeth II...but he could manage no better than simply "queen-y.")

    Since he's still got his feet dug in deep, Buddy tries another joke. "Do you wear contacts?" he asks of Francis. When informed that he does not, Buddy explains that he's been trying to get good at determining who wears contact lenses. He used to spend his time determining who wears glasses, but he got too damn good at it.

    Now the film crew is cracking up laughing at what Buddy's doing...and finally Francis caves in... Buddy is coming back for the showcase and the entire room full of talent scouts and crew explode into spontaneous applause.

    Not to give too much a way, but this will be Buddy's shining moment on tonight's show...so drink it in, crazy man...drink it in and savor it!

    "I should have taken it a bit more seriously," Buddy admits in an interview taped after his audition.

    D'ya think?

    Well, he'll have time to ponder that regret as we've reached our first commercial break of the night. Don't go anywhere...no, not even to the bathroom... Just think of this is a Continental Airlines flight!

    We'll be right back!

    (Besides, you'd hate to miss the first of this week's “Joke of the Day.”
    The set-up of the joke was “Where does a general keep his armies?”
    The punchline:
    Click to see Spoiler:
    In his sleevies.

    Oh, how I would have loved to have had that be a question on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" back when Regis was hosting that game show. Make it a four hundred dollar question and see how many people would have to either ask the audience or 50/50 it...and then we could all weep for our country's troubled educational system together.)

    London at night is a beautiful, beautiful place. It's been too long since I've been back there...and I've never had the chance to perform comedy there. And damn you, Magical Elves for making me all sentimental like this just for coming out of commercial with an edited rush of London-at-night footage... Sigh.

    Oh yeah, the commercials are over...time for the:


    Bill's hosting the show--but we don't have time for him to make us laugh this week...we're launching right into those competing for those precious red envelopes...some we know, some we weren't given the chance to know...but Matt Kirshen says that this'll be a good show, no matter what happens, because the room is filled with comedians he truly respects. Good mannered lad, he.

    Josh Howie is up first...looking like he's just spent a hard day at The Office (and shame on you if you haven't watched the original UK version of The Office...)

    He starts by saying that he's been asked to speak a bit about being Jewish because he's been told that there aren't any Jewish comics in America--which brings a wonderful laugh of a room who realizes that to be a completely ridiculous assertion. Well done there, audience, well done.

    "It's great being a Jewish comic," Josh explains. "If people don't laugh, it's not because you're not funny, it's because they're Nazis."

    He went on to say that what he hopes to do, by discussing his being Jewish on-stage, is "to use my comedy to break down negative Jewish stereotypes...because I hear there's a lot of money in that."

    Big laugh. And big concern--remember, if a comedian is moving on to later rounds of the competition, we might not get the chance to see their best stuff in these auditions...but if a comedian doesn't move on, the editors can show us their best work without worry. If you're rooting for Josh, you don't really want him to be funny now...unless he's just got so much funny stuff that he can just throw lines like these away...

    Isn't it hard to be a fan of this show in these early stages? You have to force yourself to root for the unfunny ones who somehow seem to move on or experience premature heartbreak by liking the funny ones now.

    Next up is Ava Vidal. You know, if she moves on...we'll have Thea Vidale and Ava Vidal in the second round... (And if you're wondering what happened to Ava's missing "e" at the end of her last name--I'd be worried that Thea ate it...)

    Ava's voice is still cracking a bit--but there's a little more "oooomph" to this night's performance than her earlier one. (A crowd can definitely do that to a performer--nothing beats the energy boost you get when a room full of people is looking right at you, hoping you make them laugh.)

    She tells of how people asked her if Madonna's reported adoption of another child from Malawi offended her. "She basically bought a black child and people were like 'Do you find that offensive? Do you find that offensive?'" Ava remembers. "...and I was like, 'No, because I've got two black kids at home..."

    From here, we welcome back Spencer Brown...who is cute enough to get Francis' bleachblasted smile to open wide and to get his AntMat-topped head a-bobbin' before he even hits the microphone.

    "I went to the supermarket and they've got this great new thing--next to the till is a sign that says 'Forgotten something? Don't worry. We'll just go and get it for you.'" Spencer says, delivering the message of the sign in an amazingly over the top manner.

    "So now, I just walk in...pick up a basket and go straight to the till," Spencer says, before slapping his forehead as he acts out the moment, "'You are NOT gonna believe THIS!"

    Spencer's got his fingers crossed, but if Alonzo's laughter is any indication--Spencer had a very good set.

    Next up, the first person we didn't see during the audition process who nevertheless made it to the showcase round: Benny Boot. Benny reminds me an awful lot like a scruffier version of Graham Clark who also made the showcase of HIS audition city (Montreal) without having been mentioned in the audition process. Graham didn't move on...so, I'm willing to guess that Benny would be similarly doomed.

    Nevertheless, Benny has a very funny bit about how villains in a James Bond movies always say that they've been "expecting" James Bond when Bond shows up to confront the baddie towards the end of the film.

    "Really? Because I just worked my ass off to get into your base. I just killed all of your guards. I killed your number two. I'm [bleeping] exhausted!" Benny imagines Bond saying. "...and you could have just buzzed me up?"

    Great bit. Shame you're doomed, Benny.

    Back to the potentially undoomed with Tiffany Stevenson. Evidently last week's annoyance at too many jokes by women about dating was just a temporary concern, as Tiffany talks about her problems dating...specifically with too much public display of affection with a guy she went out on a date with. How he kept pawing her and pawing her (--and I should point out that when Tiffany says the word "pawing" she manages to sneak an "r" into it... I'm not sure how she does that, but this is the English language we're talking about...and they gave us the word "through" so who knows what other bizarre spelling concoctions they're preparing to inject into our speech) and how she had to tell him that she didn't want him to do that.

    "He was like 'Oh, is that because when you were growing up your parents weren't tactile or very affectionate?'" Tiffany remembers him saying at the time. Her response was "No, it's in case I see someone better looking..."

    The women in the audience loved her for that.

    Some of you may remember seeing Rick Kiesewetter from the previews for Last Comic Standing that ran before the first episode aired, where he told the following great joke. "Sometimes it can be hard being Chinese...especially because I'm Japanese."

    It can be hard not being seen in the audition process either, because you're doomed, Rick.

    You're also surprisingly listed as being from London England...because you definitely sound like you have an American accent, you have a German last name and you're self-admittedly Japanese. It's like you're the human embodiment of World War II.

    You're also very strong on the mic and very funny. You obviously know what you're doing, Rick...doomed or not.

    Next up...Buddy.

    Does Buddy know what he's doing? That's not so obvious.

    And, in fact, the folks at Magical Elves...who haven't really shown us any examples of performers not going over very well in the showcase (with the possible exception of Matt Kazam from the New York auditions, but they showed him nailing a good saver joke about the delays in laughter being like the UN Translator delays...so, it wasn't really clear how his full set went...)...decide to show us the aching feeling of a watching a performer not getting over with the audience.

    This audience isn't feeling Buddy. And I don't think Buddy has the experience or skill to try to win them over...or, if he does, he's just in one of those situations that every comedian eventually finds himself or herself in...that of being helpless to the moment...of being Slim Pickens riding your own particular bomb all the way to the very end (only with far less whoopin' and hollerin')

    The Magical Elves show us Buddy's attempt at crowd work failing. The Magical Elves show us women staring at their fingernails while Buddy tries to come up with something to engage them in his particularly odd sense of humor and presentation. The Magical Elves show Buddy awkwardly trying to transition into material about his dying father. They show Kathleen hiding her face--because it's hard for comedians to watch other comedians who are really trying to do well and aren't able to make it happen.

    Dirty secret--we comedians LOVE watching comedians who are struggling and go off the rails about it...because then it becomes, ever so briefly, about the comedian's entertainment...and not the audience's. I'm not saying this is a good thing...but when it happens, it can be a lot of fun for all of the wrong reasons. But what Buddy's going through...that's not fun for anyone...least of all Buddy.

    Francis...no, let's go back to calling him Ant...because he can sadly gloat that he was alone in being right about Buddy... Ant looks over at Kathleen and makes a sound effect of a bomb going off while Buddy notices that the light that tells the performers to wrap things up is flashing at him.

    Buddy does what many comedian before him have done in a similar position...he bails.

    But the show, as Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes in "Shakespeare in Love" might tell you, must go on...

    And next up is Matt Kirshen...and he reminds us that he isn't actually a child. With those impressive choppers on display, I'd be more concerned that Matt might actually be some sort of Rat/Human hybrid...or possibly a Were-Rat in mid transition...

    Matt shares with us a joke that once had an audience member accuse Matt of being racist--but the audience member had displayed racism while making that accusation.

    Here's the joke, which was about Hurricane Katrina: "Given that the place the floods happened was called New Orleans--what will they call the place when it's rebuilt? We live in a very commercialized society--maybe they should go the washing powder route...and call it New Improved Orleans Ultra... Now Whiter Than Ever!"

    The audience responds, as they should, with a wonderful display of shock and amusement. Matt calls the moment and says "That's a LOVELY reaction...that's a boo, then a laugh, then a little clap. It's like my sex life."

    Oh, Matt's got the gift...he definitely has the gift...for pushing an audience towards the edge, getting them to peek over it...but then bringing it back by showing self-vulnerability so that you're still likable enough to do that again...and again.

    Nice work!

    ...and that's all we get for London Showcase sets... We head into the commercial break uncertain how many red envelopes will be handed out and who of the handful of comedians we've been given a chance to see will earn them...

    But since I prevented you from bathrooming before, let's all go now...all at once...and see if we can freak out the people working for the Water Department.


    Back after this...

    Hey, I don't know if you get HBO or not...but if you do, make certain that you catch "Flight of the Conchords"--one of their new Sunday night regular series. Brett and Jemaine are very funny New Zealand folk music artists who bring a wonderfully Kiwi spin on the somewhat similar "Tenacious D" concept... It's subtle, it's clever, it's wonderful...and I think you'll like it...and them...if you give it a chance.

    All right...hopefully you've passed all you need to pass because we're ready to find out who brings their comedy A-game from over there back to over here.

    The commercials are over with, it's time for the...


    Buddy, backstage, informs us that "this is career making stuff."

    Yes...and again, going back to what you said earlier...perhaps you should have taken it a bit more seriously, Buddy.

    And, as far as this new quote goes...just go ahead and take out the letter "m" and substitute the letters "b" and "r" there and you've more accurately painted the picture of your own situation, dear, dear, Buddy.

    (On the other hand, I imagine that there are still adverts proclaiming your name on the remaining red double decker bus fleet, aren't there, Buddy? They're promoting a musical about the life of Buddy Holly, but that's hardly common knowledge now is it?)

    As always, there are dozens of performers whose names we don't know, whose acts we haven't seen...and whose tonsorial choices boggle the mind. (Did you see the guy with the outlandish late 70's-era feathered swoop and impressive 'stache directly in front of Spencer Brown? To quote Jodie Foster from "Contact"--there are no words...no words...)

    Ant, probably drunk with the power over everyone involved with the production of this show for having been the lone hold out against the charms of Buddy, gets to read off the names of the honored recipients of the red envelopes...

    The first comic moving on from London is...Matt Kirshen.

    The next comic moving on from London is...Ava Vidal.

    She looks sufficiently stunned by this announcement...and again, there's something about this choice that reminds me of the other choices of underexperienced and not clearly shown on the show to be as funny as others shown in the process being advanced to the next round...but, again, any claims of the show being unfair or unbalanced or cast for reasons other than purely comedic merit have all been made at this show over previous years and it seems pointless to do so now since we should know, by now, what we're getting... Not only that, but I have to remind myself about the whole "advancing comics' edit" versus "not advancing comics' edit" factor.

    I don't think I'd have advanced Ava based on what I saw here...and clearly, she's not entirely certain that she deserved to be advanced based on what SHE saw...but she's not giving that red envelope back (nor should she) and we'll be seeing more from her in the next round.

    Still a lot of talented people on the stage when Ant announces that there's only one more slot remaining.

    Yep. England, which has as strong of a stand-up comedy tradition as the United States, can only send three representatives to the LCS dance...and, again, no audience from outside of the continental United States can have a say in sending over their favorite...

    This announcement has sent Spencer Brown's eyes into googley overdrive. If you thought they were big and Pixar-ish before, they've nearly gone full on Roger Rabbit now. He considers how strong Josh Howie was, he considers why they'd take Tiffany Stevenson, he considers the strength of Benny Boot...and everyone else (maybe with the exception of Buddy) who has joined him on that stage...

    ...but he shouldn't have worried.

    The third and final comic moving on from London is...Spencer Brown.

    He nearly knocks another performer right off the stage in his efforts to get that red envelope into his hands where, he thinks, it is safe (not knowing the tale of Brian Lazanik or Pete Dominick...who were given red envelopes and didn't end up going to Los Angeles.) Perhaps his amusing concern about the background check turning up what he did "with those...animals" is an actual concern?

    "I feel the purpose of what I did today was to make everyone else look good," is Buddy's last word on the matter...and the last word from London.

    ...and, as is becoming far too usual, you'll have to read the second part of the pg13 recap of Episode Three of Last Comic Standing, Season Five in the next reply...because that's where it continues--in the land of the Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves...
    Last edited by pg13; 06-29-2007 at 07:06 AM. Reason: Misspelled a Russian word--is that a bad thing?

  2. #2
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    Jul 2003

    Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three (Part Two)

    Hey, Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: The pg13 LCS Recap
    Episode Three: Who are these PEOPLE? (Part Two)

    The show reverses course and comes back to the United States...deep into the heartland, the Inland North, the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes (including Lake Minnetonka, but don't strip off your top and jump into that one, Apollonia, because that's not Lake Minnetonka...that's just Prince playing a bad joke on you)...Minnesota.

    I've lived in Minnesota...including, for a time, in Minneapolis...and I'm glad that I didn't have to stand in any line to get my chance to become part of a Freak Show Montage--because in the Winter (which lasts five months and three weeks) it is very, very cold...and in the Summer (which lasts five months and three weeks) it is far too hot and humid (not to mention mosquito-filled) for human comfort.

    One of those who braved waiting in line shared this thought with the LCS cameras, "All I know is that this better be a great hamburger...we've been waiting in line for six hours."

    The auditions in Minneapolis are held in one of the best comedy clubs in the country--ACME Comedy Club. This is a club that does so many things right...one wishes that more towns had clubs that were run the way that ACME is run. They pack the house for their MONDAY OPEN MIC NIGHT shows...and that's a rare thing indeed.

    I've been lucky enough to perform there on one of those Monday nights when I was on my way to visit my folks in Wisconsin...and I remain very impressed--and I hope to return to ACME as a feature some time soon... I'd heartily encourage anyone who may find themselves in the general area of the Twin Cities to make their way to ACME for a night of great comedy.

    Speaking of great comedy--Ant (because evidently this is one of the trips that Bill Bellamy didn't take with the rest of the team) reminds us of the Minnesota connection to some of the best that Last Comic Standing has had to offer... How Minneapolis is the home to Dave Mordal--(Whose name he continues to mispronounce...as Dave pronounces his last name so that it rhymes more with the word "portal" than "poor doll"--but it must be hard for Ant not to revert back to his love of dolls at any given time.)--Dave, of course, being the best thing about the first season of Last Comic Standing and the runner-up to Alonzo Bodden in the mangled mess that was Season Three. How Minneapolis is also the home to Bil Dwyer--who exited season four far earlier than anyone expected. How Minneapolis is also the home to Josh Blue--who won season four.

    (You could also mention how Minnesota also gave us Louie Anderson, Al Franken, Terry Gilliam, Garrison Keillor, Craig Killborn and the late great Mitch Hedberg.)

    (You could also mention how Minnesota also gave us Loni Anderson, Jessica Biel, Rachel Leigh Cook, Judy Garland, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Lange Jane Russell, Winona Ryder, Lea Thompson, Cheryl Tiegs or Richard Dean Anderson, Aaron Brown, Josh Hartnett, Peter Krause, TR Knight, Prince, Sean William Scott, Kevin Sorbo, Steve Zahn...)

    (You could also mention that Seattle comedian Travis Simmons is seen in one of the tracking shots of the line outside of ACME...but that seems less important to the theme I was going for here, somehow.)

    Ant thinks that all this means that there's something in the water.

    You know what THAT means, right?


    First up, with the Magical Elves tossing a little banjo on the soundtrack, is James Francis who looks a bit like Graham "Suggs" MacPherson--the lead singer of Madness--with a bowler, tweed suit, brolly and case.

    Kathleen asks James if he's a time traveler. James replies another set of words that cause ripples of fear and dread into the hearts of fans of good comedy. Much like "I think it would go something like this" or "do you like impressions" is what James said, which is "I'm glad you asked that, because..."

    You just KNOW something bad is about to happen...and when James has to put in a set of badly yellowed novelty teeth to complete his ensemble and begin his "pitch"--which is that of an old-timey inventor--something bad IS happening...

    It's not a bad character...but unless your name is Mel Silverback, you're not getting onto a show about stand-up comedians by doing a character--you're just simply not. It's a stunt...and while it might get laughs in front of some audiences, it simply isn't what this show is looking for...

    Kathleen is the one to howl in frustrated protest to stop him from going on with his demonstration of the universal thing-a-ma-jig. She says that "it's too crazy" and James comes back with "is it too wicked?" Nice try to spin a stop sign into a yield--but you're done here.

    He lingers long enough for Wicked Witch Ant to cast him out of the room.

    (And I'm reminded that no one in England took me up on my offer of one shiny British pound in exchange for hitting Ant in the face with a pie. More than ever, I'm disappointed in the British Empire...I truly am.)

    Trying to cast off my disappointment, I'm heartened by the sight of Bob Zany.

    Bob's been around forever. He was on The Gong Show, people...when he was fifteen. He's responsible for fifty comedy venues in California and Nevada. He once lost 175 pounds (and 30 minutes of his act.) He's been in movies, on tv, on radio and in more than 500 comedy clubs...

    He's a classic cigar-chompin' one-liner spittin' comic...and he's been making people laugh for a long time...

    What the heck is Bob Zany doing here?

    The answer's simple--he's making MORE people laugh...namely, our three talent scouts.

    "I'm excited to be here," Bob says, surveying the empty room. "Last time I played here, I had the same turn out."

    Really, that would have been enough to bring him back to the showcase, but he drops another gem on the judges.

    "The last time I was in Vegas, I stayed at one of those hip hotels. I called down and said I wanted to be moved to a room with internet access. They said they'd move be to a room overlooking the topless pool. I said, if you move me there, I won't need the internet access."


    This is comedy that smells of Borscht and breathes of cigar smoke and doesn't get respect and well I never... When done right, it's an amazing thing to behold and Bob Zany does it right. He's coming back for the showcase--as if there was ever any doubt.

    There IS at least a LITTLE doubt when it comes to where the next performer is from... His name is Fancy Ray McCloney and the graphic slapped up under his name suggests that he's from North Hollywood, California. He claims to be the "black comic orchid"--with that ice star hanging from round his neck, his doo-rag keeping his activated locks tight and a personality that just screams for attention.

    When he enters the show room at ACME in Minneapolis, beginning his Muhammad Ali-esque self-loving banter well before he hits the stage, he claims to be originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He's pulled off the doo-rag and is letting his Soul Glo...his star is roaming free on his now undershirtless chest...and he claims to be the best looking man in comedy.

    This gets a big laugh from Ant. The panel, digging his brashness, is all smiles as he says that it's funny that he's originally from Minneapolis because every where he goes, EVERY WHERE HE GOES, people think he looks like that singer...

    Now, what he's looking for is for everyone to think "Prince"--or maybe "Morris Day." I'll be honest with you, my first thought was "Little Richard."

    Turns out we were all wrong, as Fancy Ray pulls the ripcord on the joke by saying "Whitney Houston..."

    I can see that joke working in clubs...but all of those smiles on those talent scouts' faces fall...and Ant even gives a disgusted "Oy..."

    "I AM the best looking man in comedy," Fancy Ray reiterated, "the other day, I blew myself a kiss in the mirror...and the mirror got pregnant."

    Still, Ant wants to see "the back." Fancy Ray thinks that Ant wants to see the back of his clothes.

    "No...as you're walking out the door," Ant explains.

    Dirty secret--reports from many performers who didn't make the audition cut all suggest that Ant was always trying to get in a clever cut-down line...often, they said, to the frustration of the other talent scouts who might not have made their decisions yet--and CERTAINLY to the frustration of the comics who thought they had more to offer than to merely be a human set-up to a bad Ant ad lib.

    Well, Ant gets his look at the back of Fancy Ray--but that didn't stop Fancy Ray from projecting his larger than any stage personality. My, my, my, my, my...indeed.

    Hey kids--do you know what time it is? IT'S TIME FOR A FREAK SHOW MONTAGE!!!

    "We have a lot of people who do silly, wacky...comedy," explains Alonzo as we see a stream of people doing tricks with their eyes, wearing weird costumes, having bizarre facial hair. His choice of words when he said "comedy" might be debated--but in the case of the last person featured in the montage, a large bald man who lays down on the stage and then rotates his body across the stage towards the microphone...before getting up and saying "That's how I roll..." it's an apt word.

    I laughed. Alonzo laughed. Nobody wants to see him advance...but we laughed.

    The FSM continues with a guy who says nothing but he takes off his shirt to show off a six-pack--which earns him Ant's vote.

    We get guys making stupid noises, and to wrap up this Freak Show Montage, we get a toothless woman in fake farm gear pull a live chick out from inside her pants...

    Yep. That's what we got.

    Back to those who have a chance of making the show, we're introduced to the Southern Illinois comedy stylings of the impossibly named Tommy Johnagin. (My girlfriend, watching the show with me, legitimately questioned whether or not that could possibly be his actual name.)

    Tommy, compared to the Freak Show we just witnessed, looks like a normal young Midwestern guy. Glasses, short hair, plain gray sweater...and a joke about how girlfriend had a pregnancy scare while HE had a "leave the state scare."

    Tommy explains, "She's worried about how she's going to raise a child...I'm worried about where I can find a U-Haul at 7 o'clock at night. This is horrible."

    Dirty secret--once again, we see how important being likable is... That same joke from a more aggressive performer could have sounded mean, bullying and possibly misogynistic. The manager of the Comedy Underground in Seattle, Ron Reid, once told me "Too many comedians think that it's all about the material, when the most important thing is whether or not the audience likes you."

    Tommy made all three talent scouts like him...so he's coming back for more later that night.

    We go back outside to check on the line...which stretches from the club in the warehouse district of Minneapolis to the lake shack where Marge Gunderson discovered one of the kidnappers she was looking for shoving his partner's leg into the wood chipper.

    One of the guys in line shares a knock knock joke with the camera, and because it's better than any of the Joke of the Days so far, I'll share it with you.

    Knock, knock...
    Who's there?
    Interrupting pirate...
    Interrupting pira--

    Don't like that joke? Imagine having to pay for a joke even worse than that? Thanks, NBC!

    "My name is Comedian Lil Rel"--is how Lil Rel from Chicago introduces himself to us. As opposed to Highway Road Sign Holder Lil Rel, perhaps? You'd hate to get Lil Rels confused.

    Lil Rel wears a shirt that has written across the front of it Lil Rel. The last time I saw something like that, Tom Cruise was hustling pool.

    Lil Rel, after needlessly offering three other set-ups for a joke about how his dad is a 70's dad and still uses 70's slang, reproduces how his dad used to call him sucka, and jive-time turkey, repeatedly. The bit has a bit of D.L. Hughley flavor to it...but what it TRULY reminds me of is a less committed version of an old Ralph Harris routine. Ralph, who advanced to the second round of this year's LCS competition at the San Antonio auditions, wouldn't have just told us what his father called him and wouldn't have just acted out how his father used to bend and point at him...Ralph would have BECOME his father--he would have fully committed to the idea of what his father would have said and done.

    But that's not Lil Rel's style... I'm not saying that one is better than the other--just saying that Lil Rel offered us an observation but other performers might have made that observation come to life.

    Ant gushes over Lil Rel and invites him to come back tonight. (Evidently, Ant liking someone is enough to bring someone back to the show case without even consulting the other talent scouts?) Lil Rel, in the bar just outside ACME, explains that "they cut him off, but when he gets into character, he just keeps going..." So, perhaps my comments about Lil Rel were a bit hasty--again, that's one reason it can be hard to recap this show...because we have such precious little with which to make our analysis and our judgments on...

    Maybe I just need another frosty beverage? Tell you what... Let's take a break from the Minneapolis Auditions and allow our hard working waitstaff to refill our glasses and bring us our nosh...and we'll come back from the commercial break in two and two, all right?

    (For those of you who are neither eating nor drinking, consider this, the second of this week's “Joke of the Day.”
    The set-up of the joke was “What do you call a fish with no eyes?”
    The punchline:
    Click to see Spoiler:

    ...and that's a great example of a joke that only works--and saying that it works AT ALL, is pushing it more than a bit--when you tell it, and not when you read it. It's a joke based on a homophone--not that there's anything wrong with that.)

    Drinks in hand, food at the ready...we are headed back to Minneapolis...where the beer is Grain Belt, where the food is lefse and the Last Comic Standing show is about to continue...

    John Evans from the very Midwestern city of Sherman Oaks, California and he sure seems to have an Ant-like ability to put a lisp into the word "cracker." (Not that there's anything wrong with THAT either...) John wants to talk about immigration--which is another topic on the minds of every Minnesotan...but that's kind of John's point. He says that his conservative and religious mother lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and cares about immigration problems--so much so, she e-mailed President Bush.

    "I don't think he's going to read it," John says. "He didn't even read the pre-war intelligence on Iraq."

    It's a rare political joke that is getting airplay on the show and is getting laughs from Ant, Alonzo and Kathleen.

    John imagines if President Bush wrote back--and he does so as if he was responding to John's mother's email by using a typewriter. That's enough to bring him back to the showcase later on.

    Next up is Tim the Dairy Farmer from Ames, Iowa. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess from his overalls to his chin-strap goatee that he's not going to be dropping any political jokes on us. In fact, if his level of humor is anything but a pale imitation of Larry the Cable Guy, I'll be shocked.

    "I milk 400 cows every day," Tim the Dairy Farmer informs us. "It gives me something I call, cow-pal tunnel."

    The talent scouts looked shocked. I am not.

    Kathleen doesn't want to pass judgment on other comics, but she's shocked by what some comedians have chosen for their two minute audition set.

    I am not.

    Let's start up another Freak Show Montage--this time, of bad first jokes...

    This time, they name the offenders by name...and you have to guess that they don't deserve this honor, so please give some love to: Leah Eva, Horace H.B. Sanders, Tony Valle and Hiawatha Rutland.

    Yes. That's Hiawatha Rutland. A tall, sharp looking African-American supposedly from Tim the Dairy Farmer's home town of Ames, Iowa. Alonzo stops him from going any further with a joke about being taken cow-tipping...at a strip club. Kathleen says that if she had a fork, she'd stick it in her eye. Hiawatha, not quite accurately reading the situation, wonders if he should keep going.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here, Hi, and say...no.

    After every Freak Show Montage is usually something good, so my hopes are high for Tracey Ashley from Merrillville, Indiana.

    Dirty secret--I worked for a few years in radio...and there are certain "names" that people who have worked in radio recognize as being names of people in radio--and "Tracey Ashley" sounds like one of them. Many people in radio with either a mildly unusual or hard to pronounce name are encouraged to take on a "radio name"--and they're often told to use their real first name and their middle name as their last name. (If they're smart, sometimes they'll add an appropriate extra "s" at the end of it--turning Brian John into Brian Johns or Nick Robert into a better sounding Nick Roberts...but not everyone bothers.) I'm getting that vibe from Tracey Ashley... If I'm wrong, I apologize to the Ashley family.

    Tracey sounds like Robin Givens (of the Howard Stern show) and looks like former SNL cast member Ellen Cleghorne with The West Wing's Allison Janney's face. She has a very confident demeanor on stage as she explains how she doesn't feel like she'll ever want to birth any children.

    Her "I take that morning after pill like it was a multi-vitamin" line gets a chortle out of Ant...and it's clear, very quickly, that she has the poise and the "voice" to deserve to move on... She does.

    And now we see Doug Benson about to take the stage. Fans of Last Comic Standing remember Doug Benson from last year, where he made the second round...but didn't go on to the boat. Fans of Best Week Ever certainly recognize Doug Benson... Fans of comedy certainly recognize Doug Benson...

    So, what the hell was Ant's problem?

    See, not that the Magical Elves chose to show us this, but Doug had actually tried out at the Los Angeles Auditions...and Ant shut him down. (Remember me telling you about how Ant was mad with the power of the shut down? Hello?)

    How do you shut down a guy who made last year's second round...based merely because you find him to be too deadpan and low energy? (That's what Ant was telling Doug.) That's insane.

    AND--now a word of criticism towards our beloved Magical Elves. WHY DIDN'T YOU SHOW US THIS WHEN THE LOS ANGELES AUDITIONS TOOK PLACE?

    Why do it in a flashback? Imagine the dramatic tension of seeing Doug get shut down in L.A....and then the next week, he comes back for another chance?

    This isn't, after all, another Buck Star fiasco...this is a legitimate professional comedian who couldn't get past the talent scouts...

    It would have made for a better show to have given us the chance to be appalled at Ant last week...and then to not expect to see Doug THIS week.

    Doug liked his material, but it was his choice of performance style and energy level that got him the quick hook from Ant in Los Angeles. He plans on correcting that perception in Minneapolis by coming out with TONS OF ENERGY AND ATTITUDE... WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEE!!!

    The talent scouts recognize Doug immediately (again...HELL-O???) but this time, he comes on stage with a maniacal grin, wild eyes (ok, wilder than normal eyes...let's be honest) and by knocking the mic stand to the ground--with attitude!

    He tells the EXACT SAME JOKES HE TOLD IN LOS ANGELES...only this time, he's doing them while making fun of high energy comics.

    "I'm Doug Benson from Los Angeles, California...and I'm happy to be here. Holy Crap! I hope I advance because I've got BABIES TO FEED. I don't have any children, I just love FEEDING BABIES! I LOVE IT! It's so GREAT to be here on this FERGILICIOUS occasion!"

    Ant, in response, says "Oh my God, that was...hilarious..."

    Look, I might not like Ant...but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was aware of the pizzle that was being taken at his expense here...and had the good sense to allow a talented performer to move on, at LEAST, to the showcase round.

    "...that was exactly the point I was trying to make," Ant said, trying to explain himself.

    Doug replied with, "You MADE your point, Ant."

    Alonzo is cracking up at all of this...

    Ant keeps the conversation going by saying "I don't feel bad, because...look"

    Doug, with fake agreement, comes back with "Yes, look at how great it worked out."

    Outside the show room, in the bar, Doug nods and with a very beatific and Stepford smile on his face, crows "Ant loved it. And that's all that matters to me is Ant's approval. And I got it."

    Oh, man...this is an absolute crazy business that we're in...and this show is one of the craziest things about it.

    The craziness of the auditions are now over...day turns to night...and it's time for the:


    No sign of Bill Bellamy in the Twin Cities, so we once again get Ant explaining to us about fan favorites--oh, there's delicious pie flavored irony there, isn't there?--and the Capitol One No Hassle Pass.

    Tommy Johnagin has changed his sweater--this time, he's wearing something a bit more jaunty...more of an argyle...for his big moment to shine. He's backstage talking about the mood backstage. He thinks everyone is nervous, as best exhibited by the fact that he was too nervous to finish his thought about people being nervous.

    No time to be nervous, Tommy, because Bill Bellamy is bringing you to the stage.

    Tommy describes his mother as an idiot who does stupid things--like worry that when the cat is gone for a couple of hours that someone has taken it to do nasty things to it. Tommy finds himself thinking that he should take his mother's internet access away.

    "I am quite positive you're the only person to ever Google 'cat rape,'" Tommy imagines telling his mom. "I think the cat will come back in a couple of days, SHE thinks it's tied up in some sex dungeon...with nipple clamps."

    Tommy then mimes how there'd have to be clamps on all six nipples. He shrugs and says, under his breath, "Well, that's how I'd do it."

    His combination of personalized material about odd subject matter and a very dry, matter of fact style, makes him a compelling performer.

    "The stupid part is, if you DO think that someone is fiddlin' with your kitten...you don't tell anybody. That's a keep-it-to-yourself-er." Tommy explains. "What are we going to do? Some sort of sting operation? Have Dateline bust through the door?--'I was just going to pet it.'"

    Very nice work.

    Lil Rel returns to tell us about his mother, the cigarette smoker. Lil Rel's mother has smoked so much that she sounds like his daddy--so much so that he calls his mother--"Mama Daddy."

    His voice work here is excellent--combined with some very simple hand gestures--very evocative. You can feel how well he connects with a live audience--more so than he exhibited during the earlier audition set.

    And speaking of smoking, some of you are starting to look a little fidgety. Do you need to grab a quick smoke? Tell you what...let's do a commercial break here and then come back with the rest of the Minneapolis Showcase. Those who are addicted to nicotine can go stand out in the rain and get their smoke on...those of you who plan to have working lungs for the rest of your lives can stay down here where it's dry and hit on each other. Sound good?

    Hope so, because that's what we're doing...

    So, in my comedy act, I make fun of various news headlines...and occasionally, I come across a news headline that is hilarious...but too hard to explain to a live audience.

    For example, I was looking up some entertainment news, when I found a story about the plans for running the "Age of Love" series down in Australia. Of course, there's some local interest in Marc Philipoussis since he was born in Melbourne, Australia...but they were quickly made aware that the critics hated the show and the ratings for the initial episode airings have not been very strong. The news item was about how one of the Australian channels, Channel Seven, to be exact, was still planning on putting the show opposite a show that many expect to be very popular--a show called Sea Patrol (which will be shown on the rival channel, Channel Nine.)

    I was unaware that the Australians had a pet name for the star of Age of Love...but it makes some sort of sense.

    I read the headline and I laughed and laughed...but it's too hard to go through all of that explanation in front of an audience for them to find the following headline as funny as I do...

    Despite Big Serve From Critics, Seven Backs Poo

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I do all day...

    Oh, and I can't tell which movie looks worse--"License To Wed" or "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry." Both seem terrifyingly bad in their own unique ways.

    And for some reason, I now know that Chuck Likes Apple Pie and that I'm supposed to find Chuck this fall...but I don't know how I know that or why. Weird.

    Well not every smoker has returned to their seats--but we're bound to lose a few smokers from time to time, aren't we? I mean, that's what the Surgeon General's been telling us all this time, right?

    So, I don't think we wait...I think we go on with the show. Are you with me? By round of applause, who thinks we should go on with the show.

    Awesome...and heeeeeeere we go!

    Kathleen welcomes Doug Benson to the stage. He's still trying to bring a higher sense of energy and wackiness to the stage.

    "I recently saw a dog in a cage and a sign on the cage read 'I Bite.'" Doug began to explain. "And I said, 'Good to know, dog...but that's not the most important thing about you. You should make a sign that says 'I make signs.''"

    Doug followed that up with a joke that I'm pretty sure he did to try to advance in LAST YEAR'S Last Comic Standing--the one about messing around with the guards of Buckingham Palace after being told to do so by someone from England who told him that it's ok to do that. "So, I reached out and gave his nose a little tweak...and I've got to tell you guys that nothing clears up jet lag quicker than the crack of a gun butt against your skull."

    Funny. Ant liked that joke so much that you could count every last one of his 496 surgically enhanced shark teeth in a grin that looks like the animated Grinch had come down from the mountain to judge a Whoville tree decorating contest. Stink! Stank! Stunk!

    Next up--HEY, IT'S AUGGIE SMITH!

    Auggie Smith is from Portland, Oregon...and it's good to see the Pacific Northwest get a little representation in this here comedy shindig because there are some mighty fine comedians from this part of the country (not that anyone involved with LCS would think to put an audition in, oh, I don't know, how about Seattle?) Next thing you know, there'll be a comedian on stage who calls Spokane, Washington his home.

    But, doomed as he may be, let's give Auggie his due, since they've mentioned him by name and they've edited in one of his bits. Auggie's very concerned about "Pimp My Ride" and the message that it is giving youngsters.

    "Good God, America...not only is 'pimp' now a good thing; it's a verb." Auggie complains.

    He then imagines a conversation that would go like this:

    "Damn, Phil. Your car looks great. It looks just like it gets runaway girls hooked on drugs, sells 'em for sex, keeps all the money and then pistol-whips them to death when they get too old to earn."
    "Yeah...isn't it cool? It used to be a Tercel."

    Ladies and gentlemen, that was Auggie Smith. Had we seen you at the auditions, maybe we'd better appreciate your abrasive charm--but, as we didn't, you're probably as doomed as the next guy.

    ...and the next guy is Dan Cummins from Spokane Washington.


    Dan Cummins...very funny man...just as doomed as Auggie Smith, I'm afraid. Still, here's his moment of Last Comic Standing glory.

    "You know, sometimes, when someone dies...it's sad...but, other times, it feels right?" Dan asks the audience, which is already laughing before they even hear where Dan is taking them with this rhetorical question. "I read about a guy who got a poisonous cobra for a pet and it bit him and he died. And I thought, 'Yeah.' It's a poisonous cobra, buddy. What was 'Plan A'?"

    Dan Cummins, everybody. The pride of Spokane made it to national television...if only for one joke. See him when he plays your nearest comedy club, you will enjoy yourself.

    Back to the ranks of the less-likely-to-be-damned, with Tracey Ashley. Before she takes the stage for her showcase set, she is seen backstage talking about the standard progression for comedians. MC to feature to headliner--and that she'd like to move up to being a solid headliner and hopes that Last Comic Standing can help make that happen for her.

    Sure thing, just ask Dat Phan. He got whisked from door man to national headliner in a heartbeat. And now he's... Well, he's...

    OK, bad example...but let's see if Tracey puts herself in position to buy a ticket to the Dat Phan rollercoaster (watch your feet, Tracey!) with a good set at this showcase.

    "People say the dumbest things to me all the time," Tracey complains. "I used to sell sports radio advertising (Ah-ha! Hadn't I predicted something like that earlier? At least about her having some sort of background in radio? Not too shabby, pg!) and I went on a presentation for a media buyer. She says to my face, 'Wow, Tracey...we're so impressed with you. You're so...articulate.'"

    A murmur registers across the audience as Tracey confirms that this didn't sound, to her, like a compliment.

    "Like, what did she expect? I was gonna walk in there with like a big old Afro, some gold teeth in my mouth... 'What's up, mama? You wanna buy some advertisin'??? Come on, spare some change, holla, what's up?"

    Tracey explains, "I was so offended, that before I left...I stabbed her. I did, I shanked her."

    Sounds like she did well.

    John Evans is back and he's next.

    "I always wonder if Native Americans wish they would have had a stricter immigration policy." John wonders. "This ain't the new world, Cortez...turn around. Do a loop De Soto, come back--there's no spices. This is not the new world."

    And that's all we get to see of John's showcase set.

    Bob Zany is back and he's now next.

    "I had a connection flight on Hooters Airlines," Bob informs us. "Let me tell you about Hooters Airlines. My tray table wasn't the only thing in the upright position. I love to fly and it shows, bay-bee!"

    There's something so fun and so old school about Bob. It's like Bob Zany is the comedian that Todd Glass is trying so hard to one day become.

    "The security's better at the airports--it's much more thorough," says Bob. "I had a guy in LA who said, 'There's good news, bad news.' I said hey, what's the good news? He said, 'You're getting on the flight.' Well, what's the bad news? 'You have an enlarged prostate.'"

    It's a joke that doesn't quite detonate with the audience, so sly Bob gives us a wonderful saver line to savor.

    "You're a good crowd, you take turns laughing."

    And that, is how it is done.

    Speaking of done, that's it for the Minneapolis Showcase.

    We're going to break one last time for a commercial and when we come back, we'll have results from Minneapolis!

    (And this last commercial break means this week's last “Joke of the Day” is ready to be dropped upon us.
    The set-up of the joke was “Where did the cow take his girlfriend on their date?”
    The punchline:
    Click to see Spoiler:
    To the mooo-vies.

    My girlfriend got that one...which embarrassed me, because I'm the one originally from Wisconsin--which is, of course, where the cows come from...)

    I'll be honest...I was expecting to see a Minneapolis comedian friend of mine named Nick Anthony during this show somewhere--especially because he was featured in on-line promos for the Minneapolis auditions. He's one of the few people that I know of who actually made it to the showcase from the open casting call--he did NOT have a pre-arranged appointment to be seen by the talent scouts. It would have been nice to have seen Nick on network television, but what can you do...

    Oh, commercials are done...time for the results!


    We come back from break to see the gathered showcase talents pooled on the stage--and, as always, there are plenty of people who we didn't see a moment of. I see Nick Anthony in the back row, standing right behind Lil Rel--and I wonder if the Magical Elves place specific performers in very specific places either to get them in a place where cameras can easily pick them up or, for those less fortunate, for the cameras to easily avoid you.

    And that's when I see, there at the left end of the first row...the wonderfully funny Jackie Kashian.

    I LOVE Jackie Kashian--she's very funny...in a very Kathleen Madigan sort of way. (Plus, her "home club" is ACME...and I totally feel her Midwestern roots in how she speaks, what she talks about and the words she uses to talk about them.)


    And...I swear, the person standing next to Jackie on stage looks just like Sabrina Matthews--but it can't be, because she's already made the next round by making it through San Antonio.

    Meaning, either there's another comedian who looks like Sabrina Matthews (which I can't discount...because, not to be too frank about it, I've met some male comedians who dress like and are sized similarly Sabrina Matthews and the Magical Elves certainly aren't giving me any close-ups of either Jackie Kashian or the performer next to her) or these auditions are not being run in order and Sabrina pulled a Doug Benson and tried again to make it to the second round after coming close but not making it in Minneapolis.

    I'm going to guess that the former is true--and my eyes are simply deceiving me... If so, I apologize to whomever I'm not recognizing in Minneapolis and to Sabrina...because I figure either one of them could kick my ass.

    Alonzo announces the first comic to earn a red envelope from this Minneapolis showcase is...Doug Benson.

    (And, if you missed my recap of the New York audition--I suggested that Doug might, in fact, be joining his Marijuana-Logues partner, Arj Barker, in the second round of this competition...and once again, the pg-oracle sees all and knows some.)

    It's funny, one of the comedians that we never get to meet grabs Doug on the stage and mouths the word "Good job, buddy" to him. Hopefully Doug either knew him or had met him during the wait for the judging process to play out--otherwise, that's just a shameless grab for a moment of tv time right there...and we still don't get to know who you are, you Doug Benson grabber you!

    The next comic to earn a red envelope from this Minneapolis showcase is...Tracey Ashley.

    I think this is a great choice. I've never heard of Tracey before...but she had strong material, a comfortable presence on stage, and even though she's no Jackie Kashian, she comes across as a rather likeable person...

    Tracey is so excited for having won herself a red envelope that she doesn't know what to say. Doug Benson comes from off-screen to give her a big hug and a "Yay!" and Tracey STILL doesn't know what to say.

    Time for Ant to tell us who wins the Capitol One Audience Favorite award...that that goes to...Tommy Johnagin.

    ...and that's another good choice. Young guy with good stuff...

    ...and that's...well, that's it.

    Wait. That's it? What about Bob Zany? Dan Cummins? John Evans?

    Nope--Minneapolis gets three slots...and none of them were performers from Minnesota. (Guess there's NOTHING in the Minnesota water this year, Ant. Look whose the big prognosticator NOW, huh? Francis?)

    "It happened, baby...NOTHING" is Bob Zany's reaction to not moving on to the second round.

    The winners and the non-winners commiserate in the bar after the announcements were made--and I swear I see Indianapolis comedian Stan Chen among them...which would be very cool, because he's very funny...but also not so cool because he didn't get any airtime...and if it isn't him, well, we're right back into the whole Sabrina Matthews situation again, aren't we?

    Auggie Smith and John Evans bemoan their fate as the bald headed losers. John is trying to take something good away from all of this by telling the camera that Last Comic Standing was a wonderful experience but Auggie jumps back into the frame and adds an obvious disclaimer to that statement--that of "...as long as you have hair..."

    Bill Bellamy comes back to let us know FOUR very important things.

    First: There is only one more audition stop to make--and that would be Tempe, Arizona. They keep showing the wonderful Ryan Hamilton in promotional clips--he's the one describing himself as a cross between Jerry and Elaine...and, obviously, he'll be part of the Tempe auditions...

    Second: That there will be 32 comedians total to perform during the second round showcase in Hollywood...

    Third: That there will not be a show this coming Wednesday--which makes sense, since that would be the 4th of July. The next show for Last Comic Standing will be on July 11th.

    Fourth: That the show on July 11th will air at a different time: 10pm Eastern/Pacific, 9pm Central...and for some reason, we make the Mountain time zone do math to figure out when it'll be on there.

    And, after three episodes and four hours...here’s the stats.

    So far, these are all of the people moving on the next show: Tracey Ashley, Arj Barker, Doug Benson, Spencer Brown, Lori Chase, Sarah Colonna, Jane Condon, Dante, Gerry Dee, Joe DeVito, Debra DiGiovanni, Ralph Harris, Tommy Johnagin, Dwayne Kennedy, Matt Kirshen, Sabrina Matthews, Lawrence Mooney, Fiona O'Loughlin, Dwayne Perkins, Jon Reep, Sean Rouse, Amy Schumer, Mel Silverback, Andi Smith, Ava Vidal, Thea Vidale, Adam Vincent, Gina Yashere

    That's twenty eight so far...and everyone in the Mountain Time Zone, because they get more practice with simple math problems than the rest of us do, has already figured out that means that four performers will move on from the Tempe auditions.

    Fortunately or unfortunately for you and for me, I might not be the one recapping the next two episodes of Last Comic Standing here on the FORT--as I'm booked for a "Let's Put a Fat White Guy In a Small Car and Make Him Drive Hundreds of Miles Every Day During the Hottest Part Of Summer" comedy tour myself--a tour that will show me towns in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana that I didn't even know existed. If I can manage to make FORT contact from the road, I will do so...and if I can't, I'm having the shows taped and if I can add anything to the wonderful person who will have to substitute for me as recapper may write, I will when I get back off the road.

    But, for now...let's give it up for ALL of the comedians you've seen tonight...leave a couple of bucks extra for our wonderful waitstaff who worked so hard for you, hustling you drinks and food while you enjoyed our wonderful show tonight.

    Remember that live comedy is happening all over the world at any given time...and it's a great way to spend a night...laughing in a crowded and damp basement with a couple hundred of your closest friends... Try to find some this weekend, ok?

    On behalf of the staff and management of this fine facility, we ask you to bring your drinks with you upstairs and to promise to join us again soon. I've been your host, pg13 and I'm certain that I'll see you back here soon enough.

    Good night, everybody...and in the words of Spencer Brown's dyslexic friend...Thank You!

    ...because it doesn't affect speech.

    Last edited by pg13; 06-29-2007 at 07:15 AM. Reason: Evidently, I don't know where the Colts are from.

  3. #3
    Yoffy lifts a finger... fluff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Re: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEO

    I could be wrong. In fact, I am, because Matt is very funny and it's obvious that comedy is his trade, not chimney sweeping or pick-pocketing or dodging artfully.

    Buddy looks like a bit like Elvis Costello...a little bit like Demetri Martin...a little bit like every college English major pouring over Ayn Rand novels at a local coffee shop while not letting anyone else touch his cache of Splenda...

    You're also surprisingly listed as being from London England...because you definitely sound like you have an American accent, you have a German last name and you're self-admittedly Japanese. It's like you're the human embodiment of World War II.

    but let's see if Tracey puts herself in position to buy a ticket to the Dat Phan rollercoaster (watch your feet, Tracey!)
    Fantastic recap, pg.
    I can't believe they only put through three people from the London auditions.
    I laughed more during that segment than the rest of the season combined.
    I was a bitter Brit after seeing just three go through.
    "That's Numberwang!"

  4. #4
    FORT Newbie sparky828's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    Re: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEO

    FYI, Tracey Ashley got her start in Minneapolis, as did John Evans, so there is something in the water here. It sticks with you, even if you move away.

  5. #5
    pop culture whore pg13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    Re: Like everything pg-related, even the title is too long.

    I might still be bitter because we in Seattle claim Ty Barnett as one of our own, but he was either from Chicago or Los Angeles according to LCS...so, I wanted to give some love to my Minnesota former-neighbors in wanting to see someone identified as being from Minnesota make it from the Minneapolis auditions.

    Fair play to you, Sensei Foogahtay...as I will bow to your knowledge on all things currently Minnesotan.

    (And good to know about the water sticking to you, Minnesotans--although, across the border in Wisconsin...we just tried bathing regularly... Seemed to work. )

    pg--I talked to some of my Seattle peeps last night and they mentioned having worked with Evans before...--seattle

    PS--Did you try out, Matt? I can't remember from our conversations elsewhere if you did or not.

  6. #6
    FORT Newbie sparky828's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    Re: Like everything pg-related, even the title is too long.

    Quote Originally Posted by pg13;2456088;
    I might still be bitter because we in Seattle claim Ty Barnett as one of our own, but he was either from Chicago or Los Angeles according to LCS...so, I wanted to give some love to my Minnesota former-neighbors in wanting to see someone identified as being from Minnesota make it from the Minneapolis auditions.

    Fair play to you, Sensei Foogahtay...as I will bow to your knowledge on all things currently Minnesotan.

    (And good to know about the water sticking to you, Minnesotans--although, across the border in Wisconsin...we just tried bathing regularly... Seemed to work. )

    pg--I talked to some of my Seattle peeps last night and they mentioned having worked with Evans before...--seattle

    PS--Did you try out, Matt? I can't remember from our conversations elsewhere if you did or not.
    Oh, how quickly my aphorisms are forgotten. No, I walked away from the slot machine.

  7. #7
    pop culture whore pg13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    Who would be the Last Comic Still On the Road?

    For those of you a bit bewildered by the last two replies, I should point out that Sparky828 is, himself, a very funny man from Minneapolis who has been forced to read far too many of my longwinded opinions on other message boards set up for comedians...

    Always good to read a familiar username, Matt...and please feel free to jump in on this conversation with what you've noticed or what you think on what's going on with this season's LCS.

    I'm sure every FORTskateer would benefit from adding your perspectives to the pg-style drowning they're getting from me...

    pg--It wasn't so much that I forgot about your slot machine analogy, it was that I was too lazy to maximize a different window to see for myself if that was you...--seattle

  8. #8
    everything under the sun lopevian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003

    Re: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three (Part Two)

    Quote Originally Posted by pg13;2455650;
    One of the guys in line shares a knock knock joke with the camera, and because it's better than any of the Joke of the Days so far, I'll share it with you.

    Knock, knock...
    Who's there?
    Interrupting pirate...
    Interrupting pira--
    That was pretty much my biggest laugh of the night, along with the Japanese comic ("everything half price") that did not advance to the showcase.

    Thank you pg13!

  9. #9
    FORT Newbie
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Re: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEO

    Some of you may remember seeing Rick Kiesewetter from the previews for Last Comic Standing that ran before the first episode aired, where he told the following great joke. "Sometimes it can be hard being Chinese...especially because I'm Japanese."

    It can be hard not being seen in the audition process either, because you're doomed, Rick.

    You're also surprisingly listed as being from London England...because you definitely sound like you have an American accent, you have a German last name and you're self-admittedly Japanese. It's like you're the human embodiment of World War II.

    You're also very strong on the mic and very funny. You obviously know what you're doing, Rick...doomed or not.

    Thanks very much for the kind words. That's right, my background is odd and I do cover bits of it in my act (I was adopted in Japan by a German and Italian - that's the axis powers family). and I was raised in a small town in New Jersey. Ah well, you didn't get to see those bits...if you want to know more visit myspace site. tap in rickkiesewetter Cheers! And hopefully you'll see some more of my work soon.

  10. #10
    everything under the sun lopevian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003

    Re: Hey, Let's Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: Episode Three=Who Are These PEO

    Quote Originally Posted by rick kiesewette;2457300;
    And hopefully you'll see some more of my work soon.
    I hope so, you are a talented comic! (Sorry I didn't get your name in my prior post) Best of luck!!

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