Ladies and gentlemen...welcome...welcome back to FORT's Last Comic Standing Forum...
For those of you that don't know, I'm your recapper...pg13.
Actually, for those of you that DO know, I'm STILL your recapper.
See...see how committed to accuracy I am? That's the kind of customer service you get when you come and read a recap here in the LCS Forum.
Speaking of customer service...how about a nice round of applause for our wait staff huh? Give it up for them.
Seriously...give it up for them...they're making minimum wage and they have to put up with drunken comedy fans every night...whatever you were THINKING of tipping them, go ahead and double it. You'll feel better about yourselves...and they'll feel better about you.
As always, folks...remember to keep your table conversations to a whisper, this for the better enjoyment of the recap by those seated around you. And let's have everyone take this time to turn your cell phones off.
If you seriously can't bear to be out of contact with your absent friends, put your cell phone on vibrate...put 'em in your front pocket...and REALLY enjoy the show...
Hey, Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: The pg13 LCS Recap
Episode Six: This Isn't a Semi, It's Optimus Prime! (Part One)
So, last week, we witnessed the breaking of eleven hearts...as out of the first sixteen performers who made it to the semi-finals, only five were called to move on to the finals. For those of you too lazy to check out my previous recap, those five are: Doug Benson, Dante, Debra DiGiovanni, Ralph Harris, and Gina Yashere.
Tonight...sixteen other performers will perform...and only five of them will join the five that made it from last week. There'll be some talented people not moving on...and you know what THAT means... WATERCOOLER CONVERSATION!!!
Speaking of which, there's been a lot of talk on the internet from people who were actually at the tapings of these semi-finals shows... People who said that it was the same audience who sat through BOTH semi-finals shows in one seating--the show lasting THREE HOURS.
Believe me...three hours is TOO MUCH COMEDY at any one time. The optimum length for any comedy show is around the 90 minute mark..after that, people can't be expected to remain still, pay attention and still find enough to be surprised and amused by...
Imagine, then, what it would have been like for a gig that Dave Chappelle did at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles a couple of months ago...where he held the stage in front of an audience by himself for OVER SIX HOURS...and, according to all accounts, he killed the entire time (the crowd was reported to be around 120 people and despite the show going far longer than anyone had prepared for, supposedly the audience was still over 100 at the end of this marathon gig.
There's ALSO been talk about how after each performance, the performers came back on stage and went through a Q&A session with the "talent scouts"--but the Magical Elves have decided to not bother showing us any of that... The word is that these sessions were ruined by the guest talent scout for the evening...Tom Arnold.
Since these shows were taped on the same night, the other talent scouts remain the same as they ever were...it's still Alonzo Bodden, it's still Kathleen Madigan...and, yes...sadly...it's still Ant.
Our host is still Bill Bellamy...and with a night time fly-over of Los Angeles that takes us to the Alex Theatre, we get our montage from last week... Debra DiGiovanni dancing, Dante looking like Adam Maitland, Gina Yashere coughing up a hairball, Ralph Harris' Grandfather yapping and Doug Benson grunting.
Steve Martin was right. Comedy is NOT pretty.
Meanwhile, backstage, sixteen comics all seem to be practicing their breathing. Breathing is important, breathing is good. Thea Vidale looks like she's remembering her Lamaze training, Dwayne Perkins looks about to breathe his way into ballet's fifth position...while Mel Silverback breathes like a man inside a gorilla suit.
Our young English friend, Matt Kirshen says that it's just hitting him how big this could be... Yes, Matt...with any luck, you too can enjoy the fame and fortune that comes from "co-starring" with Kim Basinger in the movie "Cellular" like Season One winner Dat Phan did. (OK, "co-star" is a bit much... I think Dat had two lines...but still...that's two more than Matt Kirshen has ever had...right?)
Amy Schumer follows Matt's backstage comments with her own variant of "World Peace" as she expresses how unbelievable it is to perform in front of millions of people.
"This is going to be one of the best times of my life," Amy predicts, ignoring for the moment the consequences of bombing in front of millions of people--ALTHOUGH, it doesn't seem that the Magical Elves will let her do that...as, again, the word on the internet was that last week's performance by Dwayne Kennedy had gone far worse in person than it was edited for broadcast...
Because THESE Magical Elves are the kindly Elves who help the humans...much like those Wood Elves who follow Galadriel...and not so much Elves like the Drow who live in Skullport, a mile under Waterdeep...part of the depths of the Underdark...
Man...it's a wonder that I've EVER found women to find me attractive...with all of this supreme geekitude in my past...
Knowing that this was taped on the same night as the other semi-finals show makes Bill Bellamy's standing ovation for just walking onto the stage seem rather bizarre. Either this intro was filmed at the REAL beginning of the night...or, at some point in time, they plied the audience with alcohol.
Bill introduces the panel of talent scouts. He describes Alonzo as "first and foremost" and "hilarious and funny." He describes Kathleen as "funny and sassy" and "we love her." He describes Ant as "the ever-funny Mr. Ant."
Ooooh, I think that arrow pierced the armor of the brave Sir Ant--as before he stands up and waves like he was riding the "Three Bears In a Tub" float in the parade, he shoots an annoyed look to the camera.
Hey, Ant...it could have been worse. Bill could have said "The 'ever funny?' Ant."
That's how I heard it, anyway...
After introducing Tom Arnold and explaining the Capitol One Audience Favorite Award, Bill launches into his set.
He begins with a remarkably astute observation about how crazy those white folk are...this time, the observation is on the tendency of white people to wear flip-flops...even when going to the airport. Then Bill, like a comedic and theatrical Cornel West, presented a masterful deconstruction of the current dominant class through a tableau of a tense moment when a Californian flip-flop wearing traveler encountered a Southern TSA employee with a bit of a superiority complex.
Or, he made fun of dumb white people in a rather obvious way by employing stereotypes, using funny voices and offering up a mildly funny act out of how someone can instantly extract themselves from flip-flops.
It all depends on how you look at it--kind of like the Michael Vick scandal.
His job in warming the audience up over (or, more accurately, the edit went right here)--Bill is ready to transition to the competitors...and he uses a word that still cannot be said on network television. Of course, it doesn't ACTUALLY air because this show isn't by any stretch of the imagination live (it's shot on FILM, for heavens sake!) Still, we get Bill spending a few extra seconds trying to dig his way out of having just said a bleepable word...
Yes...far better THAT than to see a couple more seconds of the performances of those actually competing in this competition...right?
Backstage, people are nervous. Jon Reep talks about what would happen if he lost tonight--that he'd probably quit comedy and follow his father in the ways of baliffness. (Sorry, SpellCheck--that's what he said!)
OR...he could just sit at home and continue to cash those "Hemi!" checks that keep rolling in...
Just a thought.
With Ryan Hamilton and Greg Warren looking at him like he's absolutely insane as he bounces and weaves his way on stage, Jon Reep gets to bite the bullet and open up THIS semi-finals performance. (Of course, this being the second semi-finals show taped on the same night--who knows how "warm" the audience actually is...so, maybe the normal concerns about "biting the bullet" doesn't apply so much here.
Jon "as you can probably tell" is "not from 'the city.'"
"Any city. Pick a city... Nope."
Jon explains that he's from Hickory and that when you say "Hickory" you have to shake your head...and that means you're proud.
Jon is all attitude and presentation. He's a funny guy. He's not so much about the writing, as proven when he goes right into the Foxworthy bag o'tricks with "You know you're a redneck if the name of your town includes the word 'hick'."
"Why didn't they just name it 'Hillbillery'?" Jon wondered. "Now, grow out your rattail and live in the trailer park I rent."
(Transcriber's note: That last line could be "...live in the Trailerpark-ery"--it was hard to distinguish. Pick whichever one you find funnier.)
Jon claims that's who we are. "That's what our country is, man. We're a small town nation. What do you think red, white and blue stands for? Redneck. White Trash. Blue Collar. Welcome to America."
If Jon doesn't move on in Last Comic Standing, I think he's ensured himself a regular role of sucking on the gravy pipe in any Blue Collar TV shows that might be made in the future.
Jon comes off stage like he was Bill Goldberg on his way to the ring...making Greg Warren a very brave man for patting Jon on the back and not becoming NEXT.
Fiona O'Loughlin is next...and she's backstage thinking...while we hear her talk about her five kids...and how, if she goes home tonight, she'll have to go home and take care of them. I'm not so certain that Fiona has a distinct comedic perspective as much as she seems to be begging for the intervention of Child Protective Services to relieve her of her five burdens in life...
Fiona begins her set by giddily expressing her amazement at being in America. Again, I'm not certain that the foreign performers are as aware of the fact that WE'VE ALL LIVED HERE FOR SOME TIME NOW AND AREN'T AS EXCITED ABOUT IT AS YOU ARE.
It's one thing for a comedian to be honest and in the moment...to express the feelings that they have...but it's another thing for you to take time out of your precious few moments on national network television to share an emotion that none watching can identify with...especially if you don't have a joke to go with that emotion.
"I'm actually from one of the largest Irish-Catholic families in Australia," Fiona offers. "We actually have to have a family reunion every two years...just to ward against incest. We all meet in a park and have a good long look at each other...for our genetic safety."
Sadly, Fiona...you just followed Jon Reep...whose family likely DEPENDS on not following that particular strategy...down in old Hickory... ::shake head for effect::
Fiona rears back and pitches out her self-defining joke. The one about her having five kids, but she can't tell you their names off the top of her head because she drinks like a fish.
Not every comedian HAS a self-defining joke--but many do. It's basically a joke that allows you to quickly understand exactly who the performer is and what their comedic perspective is... It says "Hey, I'm fat and frustrated by that" or "Hey, I'm no good at dating" or "Hey, I'm an absolute sociopath with violent tendencies." (Actually, that last one isn't a comedian at all, ...he's a wanted criminal who is on the lam and hides out at open mic nights in comedy clubs across the country--point him out to your server if you see him.)
But what it DOES, is it allows the audience to jump forward a bit...to understand where a comedian is coming from more quickly than if the comedian had to explain it...or if the audience was just supposed to put the puzzle pieces together as a comedian goes along.
It can be a very useful tool--but, it can also be difficult to deal with when you're asked to keep doing multiple short performances in front of different audiences that will be filmed to be shown to a more-or-less static home viewing audience. I can imagine that you wouldn't want to ALWAYS do your self-defining joke, but if you don't always do it...there might be a problem in getting a new audience to make that same leap forward that some of your jokes might need.
I could see the absence of that joke forcing a comedian to add more information to the set-ups of other jokes...just to explain the missing pieces that would have normally been filled in by the self-defining joke.
No matter now, because Fiona's DONE hers...so, she's in prime shape to do her best work tonight.
Only, she immediately swerves from her self-defining joke into talking about her anorexic sister. "And if you haven't got an anorexic sister, do get one...because they're hilarious."
It's a wonderful conceit--Fiona says outrageous things...things that go against how people are supposed to think and react. She's a mom who doesn't care about her kids, she celebrates her drinking. She finds someone's illness...funny. It creates a wonderful tension...and that tension can lead to big laughs. And I suppose that's why her self-definition joke isn't as much of a swerve as I originally felt it was--because what she's setting up isn't her drinking or her bad mothering...but it's defining herself as the person who doesn't try to say the right things or feel the way you're supposed to feel.
"Do this, if you've got an anorexic sister. Go, "Oh, hi Kate...have you put on a few pounds?'" Fiona suggests. "And just the blind terror in her eyes...it's... God, it's more fun than you can poke a stick at..."
Hmmmm...maybe poking a stick at something in Australia is more fun than it is here?
She ends with a joke about her sister's husband picking up a child...one that turned out to be HIS. And I'm left with the same thought as I was fighting before--that she's left a muddle in what should have been a very tight concise presentation. In four minutes, she's defined herself, her anorexic sister, her sister's husband...and who knows what else that we didn't see thanks to the edit?
(In contrast, Ralph Harris, who made it through his semi-final challenge into the finals, merely introduced us to his Grandfather.)
I like Fiona...it'd be fun to see her in a sitcom this fall...but we'll have to see if we see her more on this season's Last Comic Standing.
Fiona leaves the stage and we see Dwayne Perkins checking a last-second mirror--seeing that his beard was fuzz free. Then we jump to Ryan Hamilton's backstage interview before he gets called to take the stage. Oh, Magical Elves...how you use your trickery to make us think that we're watching this show in some sort of linear order when you're just picking up and dropping off performers in the order that you think will entertain us the most...
Ryan Hamilton talks about how groupies simply come with the territory of being a comedian...especially for Ryan and his bad boy image. For those of you who don't know, this is EXTREME sarcasm.
Ryan Hamilton couldn't be a bad boy if he was a member of the Manson family. He'd have been like "Guys, guys...we just made such a mess...shouldn't we clean up all of this blood and stuff before we go? I mean, we can't just leave it like this can we?"
As Ryan heads to the mic, let's admit something shall we? Ryan is funny looking. People laugh at Ryan before he even says a word. This isn't a bad thing at all...and I think Ryan has embraced his angularity, his gangly awkwardness, his Howdy-Doody-ish face. And if Ryan ever reads my description of him, he'll probably drop me as a MySpace friend.
Ryan is considering Lasik surgery and he saw an ad where that procedure was being offered for $295 per eye.
"That seems a little low," Ryan pointed out. "I'm not into 'bargain' surgery.
In a previous round, Ryan had drawn attention to his Seinfeld-ian qualities by saying that he looked like the love child of Jerry and Elaine--but it's in the delivery of THIS particular joke that you can see that, for Ryan, lessons have been learned in watching the precision of Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up.
Not only are the words perfectly efficient for getting across exactly what he wants to say, but the way he says them--the bend of the body to emphasize a couple of words, the blank but intense look on his face that can help reflect the audience's awareness of the point that he's trying to make in order to make his observations funny.
Hell, the guy's wearing a suit, people! Anyone else wearing a suit? No, I didn't think so. Obviously, he's running the Jerry Seinfeld playbook from page one! Such a bad boy...
Ryan continues his Lasik bit by imagining someone who would only get ONE eye done... He imagined people walking out of the clinic looking like Popeye "Until pay day comes, I can only afford to get one done..."
It's a great visual--Ryan keeping one eye scrunched while leaving the other eye open.
He then adds to this by talking about a woman who did just that--got one eye Lasik'd so she could see long distances and left the other one un-Lasik'd for things close to her. He imagines what that would be like--in a bit that is somewhat reminiscent of a Brian Regan bit about getting tri-focal lenses.
(Note--I'm not pulling a Rogan on Mencia here...I'm just pointing out that there's these bits have a similar construction... Both of them, I should point out, are very funny, too...)
"I'm reading, I'm reading, I'm reading, I'm driving, I'm driving, I'm driving, I'm reading again...I'm driving, I'm cooking, flight simulator, crossword puzzle...Frisbee!"
Concise, focused work...he had a four minute plan, he delivered that plan with jokes that work with words...jokes that work with funny act-outs... It's a competition set--from a performer who does very well in competitions. We'll see if that's enough.
On his way off stage, Ryan Hamilton gets props from Greg Warren...suggesting, again, that Fiona's set was inserted into the natural order of things... Not that there's anything wrong with that...
...or with taking a commercial break, for that matter... Which is what we're going to do right now. If you need to jump outside for a quick smoke (although, you DO know that will kill you eventually...especially if you jump outside into traffic) or make a cell phone call or check on whether or not your friend Lindsay's SCRAM alcohol monitor is still showing that she's remaining sober...now's the time to do just that.
We'll see you back here in your seats and ready to go for more show...in just a moment.
Over on Bravo, they're showing a quasi-reunion show for Top Chef where they invited a few people from Season One, a few people from Season Two and all of the so-far eliminated people from Season Three.
It's an odd thing to have a reunion show where only a few people are reunioning...and other people are still doing the thing that they're reunioning over.
Still...the show has a montage of Padma Lakshmi in her most unkitchen-friendly outfits...and now that she's left that loser of a husband behind (the soon-to-be Sir Salman Rushdie...what has HE ever done other than write a book that has seriously angered much of the world???) I feel better about taking complete notice of every example of that...
...and I'm not sure why I shared that...but what else do you do during commercials if you're not racing to the restrooms?
And we're back...
Sir...I said...we're back. SIR!!! I'm serious, now. You do NOT need to check your voice mail...this very second. You need to give your complete attention to the performers here on the stage who are tr--what?
Ohhhhh...the babysitter called and your child has a fever? OK, well...better...take care of that. Certainly.
Whew. Well, this certainly has started things off with a weird vibe, huh? Hey...give that guy leaving to check on his sick kid a round of applause... Comedy's comedy, but sick kids are sick kids...
Yeah. Well...anyway... We're still doing a show...so let the rest of us get back to it, ok?
Bill promises us that the competition is about to get tougher. How? Have they added some new rules...like this was the final Houston versus New York match in the 1975 James Caan version of Rollerball?
Well, thanks Bill...now that we know that there are no time limits, no substitutions, no penalties and that really the entire game is designed to prove the futility of individuality in the face of complete corporate power...let's go on with our little comedy competition, shall we?
Gerry Dee suggests that in the United States, over 10 million people watch this show. OK. Then why do only eleven of them comment on the show here in the FORT this year? HUH?
Actually, I read a report that indicated that 6.93 million people watched last week's episode of LCS--and those are pretty good numbers for the summer...
Gerry Dee walks on stage...and he reminds me of a bizarre cloning accident where the DNA profiles of Jan Berry, from Jan & Dean, was mixed with Clint Howard...but that's probably just me.
"I don't drink beer...I drink coolers...and it's hard to look tough in a bar, for a guy, drinking coolers," Gerry starts off with.
Wait. Coolers? As in wine coolers? Like...Bartels & Jaymes??? What YEAR is this joke set in?
How hard would it be to update the joke to say "hard lemonade"???
Gerry imagines someone yelling "Nice lipstick, buddy" at him in a bar, and he'd respond, "It's not lipstick...it's raspberry cooler...that I chugged."
"As a kid, I had to go to church every Sunday...and I did NOT like THAT," Gerry says, changing the subject from overcompensation to homosexual panic to childhood trauma, in a delivery that hints, a bit at, Mitch Fatel, but is probably closer to John Heffron-ishness. "I don't go anymore...I gave it up for Lent a few years ago."
Gerry remembers when his mom suggested that he stop going to bars to pick up women and start trying to meet women at church--and his own befuddlement at how he might do that...suggesting that he might pay for someone's offering in the collection basket, like he might have offered to buy a drink for a girl at the bar.
He goes on to describe how bizarre Confession is...that you'd go into a booth and tell a Priest your sins. "OK, father," Gerry imagines himself saying, "...you go first."
We're not talking brain surgery...or anything that's terribly inspired...but definitely there's solid, workman-like comedy being performed here. The crowd seems to be enjoying themselves.
Thea Vidale is now a bit of a blond... OK, let's get real...her oddly affixed weave is a bit of a blond.
Is it culturally insensitive to say that I'm "done" with weaves? Your hair or no hair--that's my new motto.
Thea, with no sense of irony, begins by talking about how bad Condaleeza Rice's hair looks. Talk about the pot calling the kettle African-American.
Thea, if she could ask Condi anything, would ask her one thing, "What does Uncle Tom's cabin look like from the inside?" They cut from her sticking her tongue out at the "outrageousness" of her asking that question to a row of white girls doubling over with laughter at this--girls that I'd be willing to bet have never actually read "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Then, the Thea explosion--as she tries to goose the audience's response by leaning towards the first row and shouting "YOU KNOW THAT'S FUNNY, QUIT PLAYING!!!"
Thea explains that she's a bit cranky because she broke up with somebody. "We broke up for religious reasons," is how Thea describes what happened. "He failed to worship me."
PLEASE...if ANY of you go to a comedy show and see Ant doing this joke in the future...email me. I'm certain that it'll happen--but I've got "within a month" in the betting pool.
Actually, if any of you go to a comedy show and see Ant...I encourage you to try a little harder when making your entertainment plans in the future... Really. Not only for you but for all of us...
"My man was so broke, he owed his reflection money." Thea then tugged at her necktie, complained that she didn't get any respect, picked up a violin and began to screech the bow across the strings, yelled out for "make-up" and got hit by a giant puff ball...and the entire art of stand-up comedy was suddenly on display for all to see in one classic one-liner.
"Don't ever, ever, ever...be with a broke man," Thea advised--earning a cheap pop from the ladies in the audience. "Cause you don't want no man to look at you like 'You got twenty dollars?' Yeah, I do...and some sense with it."
There's still an open chair on The View, isn't there?
"You ladies, be careful..." Thea says, with a knowing smile on her face and a wink in her eyes (that says, "here comes my closer, everybody!") "You know what they say about a man with big hands and big feet?"
Before she can answer her own question, someone "helpful" shouts out "WHAT IT IS!!!!" I honestly don't think that answer is correct... I don't think that "WHAT IT IS" IS what they say about a man with big hands and big feet. Sadly, audiences are rarely held accountable for presenting incorrect answers. How much better would comedy shows be if every audience member knew they were being graded...and that their grades would end up on their permanent record?
The CORRECT answer to "You know what they say about a man with big hands and big feet?" is "He's a clown." It's a funny reversal of expectation...good enough to give Thea the big laugh that I'm sure she expects as a strong veteran comic presence on the scene.
But haven't we seen this same kind of approach done before...Roz last season...Tess, to some degree, in season one?
Still, I could see Thea winning the Capitol One audience award...unless there happens to be ANOTHER overweight and loud African-American comedian on the show, of course...
On Thea's way off stage, they cut to the talent scout table...and we see Ant nodding with overacted enthusiasm...like he was giving his absolute approval to what Thea had just done. Look, Ant...let me break it down to you. Being a gay white man does NOT make you a sassy overweight black woman...no matter what they may have told you on Fire Island, ok?
Dwayne Perkins is ready to go on next (or after Fiona went on stage--who knows...) and he says that you could work in comedy clubs for ten years...and one appearance on a tv show can put you in front of more people. Dwayne, however, has been working the comedy clubs for twelve years...so, this shouldn't be anything at all for him, right?
Dwayne wants to start off by talking to the ladies...and he wants the guys to back him up. Dude, we just MET you...I'm not ready to have your back until you give me a clue over what you're going to say. You could say some rude, nasty stuff that gets me in trouble with MY woman...because you want me to sight-unseen "back you up?" Oh HELL no...
Dwayne talks about how ladies have that one guy friend who they think is their friend...that they like, but not in "that" way. Dwayne tells the ladies that's wrong.
OK, I got your back on that, Dwayne. That is wrong. Ladies should sleep with ALL of their friends. Wait. What?
"Cause if a guy hangs out with you, he likes you, " Dwayne explains, "Because why else would he put up with...your talking..."
Oooooooh. There goes YOUR chance at the Capitol One Audience Favorite Award, Dwayne...
All of those smiling women's faces just fell as you went from "he's talking directly to us" to "how dare he?" in their minds.
And the guys would love to vote for you, but they know that their women are looking at who they're voting for...and they can't take that chance.
Dwayne has to play to the talent scouts now...and already Ant has no interest in anything he's said so far...
Dwayne tries to make it up to the ladies. "I'm sorry, ladies...but that man is putting in quality time. He's putting in the Q.T.....for the boo-ty..."
"That's messed up... You've got a friend who's a great guy, but you won't date him. You know what that's like for a guy?" Dwayne asks. "That's like going on a job interview and having a guy say this to you..."
...and then Dwayne goes into his act out voice. He doesn't try to become someone else--he's just offering up a secondary voice...a voice that clearly expresses the fact that this isn't his own voice...AND THAT'S ALL HE NEEDS. Sometimes acting skills and impersonation skills can help a comedy routine--but sometimes, all you need is a dialog between two distinct and different people. That's all Dwayne needs here...and he serves it up so we know exactly what we need to know...
"Well, Mr. Perkins, wow...this is a great resume. You've got the experience we're looking for...and we love your attitude. You're perfect for this job...heh heh heh... And we're not going to hire you. Nahhh... We'll probably hire someone whose far less qualified...and has a drinking problem."
Surprisingly, Ant really likes this joke.
"Now, we're not going to hire you...ever..." Dwayne's job interviewer continues, "But, do you mind if we call you...to complain about the guy we DO hire?"
Maybe not the best audition set for pleasing an audience...but a solid performance nevertheless. I don't think you'd go wrong checking out Dwayne if he comes to your town...and it'd be nice to see him get more work on tv or in movies.
"It was fun. I did what I wanted to do. Very happy." That's what Dwayne's post-set feeling was. Well, that's what every performer wants to be able to say...
...and we're ready to go to another commercial break!
They ran an ad for Dateline's "To Catch A Predator". Did you hear about the family that is suing NBC for $105,000 over that show?
Seems the show targeted a guy--a guy who never went to the sting house, by the way--and the guy then committed suicide when the police and camera crews came to their house.
I've got to say that sex predators and suicide are not the reasons that I'm a fan of reality tv...
Maybe it's time for tv to back off on their appetite for turning every minute of everyone's life into entertainment, and, for a change, simply let law enforcement do their job on their own?
Just a thought.
Oh...and what's with this Cuba Gooding Jr. take over of the "Daddy Day..." franchise? Eddie doesn't want to go to camp now that he's filled with "Dreamgirls" goodness?
What can you do with Cuba? He obviously likes being in really, REALLY bad comedy movies. Yet, he's got serious acting chops...and the ability to do so much better work than he's done recently.
I mean, there's absolutely NO CHANCE for "Daddy Day Camp" to be anything but abysmal, is there?
Well that was certainly a quick break...and, barring any other family emergencies....let's go right back into the show, huh?
Back to the Alex Theatre...and Bill is on stage promising the theater audience a special treat. You know, in England...in the West End of London, they come around with ice creams to enjoy in your theater seats. Here in Seattle, they'll sell you a bottle of water... In the Alex Theatre, a "special treat" just means that the next guy in this interminably long comedy show is coming to the stage.
As Johnny Rotten once asked, "Ever feel like you've been cheated?"
Matt Kirshen admits that he's PAID to see both Fiona and the upcoming Arj Barker as a customer before...and that other people in this semi-final are people that he's admired...some that he's never heard of who, based on their experience, that they were going to do great.
"It's only starting to sink in how big this could be," Matt says.
...and by the time it sinks fully in, it'll be over...because you're on stage, my dear lad...
As Matt comes to the stage, we see Andi Smith getting make-up touches...so, if she's not next to go on, we know that we're being messed with by the non-linear storyline creation-centric editors again.
"Relax, everybody...I'm not actually a child" is Matt's standard set opener. No offense meant, Matt...but you ARE a completely rattish boy. I know I've said that in the past, but I swear that in your family tree...there's SOME rat in it. Kind of like a strawberry tart.
And now, ladies and gentlemen...we here at the FORT's LCS Forum are proud to present: Monty Python's "Dead Bishop Sketch"--in order to understand that last obscure reference... We join the sketch...already in progress...
KLAUS: (putting down his knife and fork) Well, that was really 'orrible.
MOTHER: Aaw, you're always complainin'!
KLAUS: Wha's for afters?
MOTHER: Rat cake, rat sorbet, rat pudding, or strawberry tart.
KLAUS: (eyes lighting up) Strawberry tart?
MOTHER: Well, it's got some rat in it.
KLAUS: 'Ow much?
MOTHER: Three. A lot, really.
KLAUS: Well, I'll have a slice without so much rat in it.
VOICE OVER: One slice of strawberry tart without so much rat in it later:
KLAUS: (putting down fork and knife) Appalling.
Cue applause sign...then go back to the recap of Matt Kirshen's performance.
The audience is definitely behind Matt, laughing at his self-deprecation. He says that he's always looked younger than his age. "Well, not always," he admits. "When I was newly born, that would have been creepy."
The audience laughs--but I'm stuck on the word that I expected to soon follow "creepy"--the word "And..." which would have normally been followed by a further exploration of how creepy it would have been to look younger than newly born... The word "and" never comes--neither does any further exploration of said creepiness. He just moved on to another topic.
That other topic is how much he grins--he grins all of the time. He tells the story of how, because of his nearly constant grinning, he'd broken his front two teeth on the bottom of a swimming pool.
"...which is nearly impossible, when you think about the angles involved," Matt explains. "The ONLY way to do it is to be so happy about diving into a pool..."
The audience laughs--but I'm stuck on the possible reasons WHY he'd be so happy about diving into a pool... That never comes. He just moved on to another topic.
Oh, they DID show his family and friends. Not a hint of rat in any of them.
"I can only do two facial expressions," Matt suggests. "I can do happy...and I can do stuck in a fence.."
Admittedly, the face Matt makes when he mimes "stuck in a fence" deserves enshrinement on the Cute Overload website.
Matt suggests that even when his face is stuck in a fence, it looks happy. It's like "This hurts, this is embarrassing...but I'm going to see a fire truck."
Ant loves this...suggesting that somewhere, back in the young Ant's life, he's had a significant experience involving a fire truck...or maybe just with a man and a hose, I'm not sure.
Matt points out that he can't wink. That when he tries, "It looks less flirtatious...more...stroke."
Matt tries to pull up one eye-lid by hand. "Is this working for any of the women in the room? Laaaaaaadies???"
Admittedly, the "Laaaaaadies" gambit has been picked up on by many a comedian across the country...but it was still resonant with the way that Matt used it. And I saw at least two men give Matt a standing ovation when he ended his set...proving that either Americans CAN appreciate young British male humor...or maybe "To Catch A Predator" has let a couple of perverts slip through their fingers...
Matt walks past Andi Smith and Jane Condon as he reenters the wings backstage. Jane pats him on the shoulder...like a mother would. Well, there went all of Matt's MILF-y dreams about Jane...pooooof!
No, not you, Ant. I meant "pooooof" as in magically disappearing. If you'd be willing to magically disappear, Ant...go right ahead...
I'm expecting to begin my recap of Andi Smith now, but Amy Schumer keeps talking to me. Amy is the absolute master at rewording "World Peace" over and over again...expressing how life changing winning would be... Well, duhhhhhh, Amy...
And Amy's coming to the stage now, proving that the jigsaw puzzle picture is being changed as we're trying to piece it together--making the puzzle much harder to solve, that's for sure... Of course, just being willing to ignore needing to solve any kind of puzzle and just enjoying what the Elves have presented us can be a great strategic path to follow.
So, no questions...just Amy Schumer about to perform. Amy tries to tie in the "excitement" of filming a television program with her own "excitement" of being in love right now. I think the only one excited by this connection is Tom Arnold--making this one of the rare times when the production staff have included "special guest talent scout Tom Arnold" in any footage actually making it to air.
Amy acknowledges Tom's enthusiasm...which gets a good laugh from Amy's friends and family...ONE OF WHOM IS LIZZY COOPERMAN.
(I told you last week that we saw you, Lizzy...I told you! And this week, we get to see...well, pretty much...all of your cleavage. Thank you, Magical Elves and who ever made Lizzy's top for that, I guess... Unexpected cleavage is the best isn't it? See also Lia's unexpected cleavage on the Top Chef reunion special...)
Meanwhile, Amy keeps adding new levels to this never ending set-up she's delivering. She was excited about being on tv, excited about being in love, excited about Tom Arnold being excited about her being excited about being in love, being totally in love with her boyfriend despite their one problem, knowing that there's always at least one problem, admitting that their problem is that they want totally different things in the bedroom, sharing that she turns off the light and he turns it back on, repeating that she turns off the light and that he turns it back on, recounting how her boyfriend tried to reassure her against being too shy for him to see her body...until FINALLY, she laughs at how cute he is for thinking that she doesn't want him to see her...
That is a LONG way to go for a laugh...especially in a tight four minute set. Is it enough of a laugh to live up to that amount of set-up? Especially when Amy goes on to arrogantly turn sideways to let the theater audience notice that she's got a bit of a figure. (Amy, you look just fine...but know that when it comes to cleavage...you're no Lizzy Cooperman...)
Ant and Tom Arnold are clapping loudly for this. I know why Tom's clapping...but what is Ant doing???
As Lisa goes on to describe how she thinks that her boyfriend (that she absolutely loves, remember, despite the fact that she's as much as admitted that she doesn't ever want to see him naked) is trying to kill her while making "sweet love"--Ant and Tom are on the edge of their seats, while Kathleen looks like someone just held something unpleasant under her nose.
"It's what he's saying..." Lisa explains, "Things like 'Bitch, say your goodbye's...' and 'You'll never see your mother again.'"
We cut to Lizzy Cooperman for HER reaction. Her cleavage sure seemed to laugh at that joke...
And that's it for Lisa. Again, I hesitate to make any predictions because we might have been prevented from seeing the best work by those who move on...but considering how long it took her to set up her first laugh, I have to think that it doesn't look all that good for Lisa's chances...
Next up is Sean Rouse. Or, more precisely, Sean "America's Comedic Darling" Rouse. The pitch black and deadpan performer points out that this being in the semi-finals brings him one step closer to his ultimate goal of becoming "America's Comedic Darling"--I just think we can skip the whole process entirely and just declare him "America's Comedic Darling." What do you say, FORTskateers? Do you dare help make a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer's deepest wish come true?
Sean is in no hurry and seems to feel no pressure to rush towards his laughs. Not that he could, really, rush towards his laughs...his laughs will come as they will (or they won't...)
Sean comes out and dedicates this set to his father...who died...six...seven or eight years ago.
I wonder if that's going to get Sean taken off Ralphie May's Christmas Card list?
"I'm not really sure when it was, but one thing I AM sure of is that sympathy for a dead relative can get you really far in these reality shows...
We remember Season Three of Last Comic Standing, don't we? Where Season One and Season Two competed against each other...and in one episode, Ralphie May was expected to compete...but because his father had just died, the big funny man cried his way through a couple of street jokes that he said his dad liked...and earned enough audience sympathy to be voted into the next round.
I'm not going to be cynical enough to suggest that Ralphie made his dad's death a tactic to succeed in a reality tv competition...but I can give a cynical enough smile to Sean who has done a Triple Lindy right into that Olympic sized pool of cynicism.
"But, don't worry guys...I know he's out there somewhere...looking up at me..."
Dark, evil, subtle...these are not typically things that are championed on network television, but unless editing is tricking me, it feels like this audience is getting it...
(As this joke lingers in the air, we cut to a shot of "Sean's Family & Friends" which is one, singular and embarrassed looking young African American woman. As Sean is one of the whitest looking men you may ever see, I'm going to guess "Friend.")
"And I hate to bring you down even more," Sean says, promising new levels of darkness that we have never previously considered, "but I found out last week...that I've contracted restless leg syndrome. The same condition that took my father."
This gets Kathleen Madigan, who jokes a great deal about her own family matters.
"No, I'm just kidding. That didn't kill him," Sean admits. "Vodka. That's what did it. Vodka killed him."
Sean then launches into a perfect example of the "comedy of escalation."
"But no, he used to drink vodka," Sean explains. "He would drink it straight, though... He'd drink it straight... Right out of the bottle... While driving... With me in the passenger seat... Trying to beat a train... That was on my side of the car..."
And, when you think there's nowhere else for that escalator to go, Sean closes it all often with an emotionally resonant but still ludicrous closure, saying "That was actually the best Christmas that we ever had..."
Sean is so NOT for this show...but it was fun seeing him infiltrate this network television enclave with his twisted perspective...and to see people respond to him and understand where his comedy comes from...was nice.
I doubt we'll see him in one of the five lit circles on stage at the end, but...always fun watching Sean work.
"I do the club circuit," Lavell Crawford says, "But I think this will take me to another plateau."
And Lavell is NOT making it to any plateau on his own at this point...
"Calm down, calm down...I know what you're thinking," Lavell begins his performance by saying, "Not another Bill Bellamy look-a-like..."
Good work, getting the obvious out of the way...and getting a good laugh for it. And good work by the buttons on Lavell's suit, too. A far, far braver thing that they do than I'll ever do...
Lavell answers those who stupidly ask him why he's breathing so hard, by saying "So, I can LIVE...what kind of a stupid question is THAT?"
I really hope that Lavell's ability to take the obvious and make it funny will continue when he isn't this dangerously large. I mean, it'd be a real shame if he felt the need to continue to maintain a certain size and weight just so that he can keep his act. (Remember Bob Zany? The Minneapolis auditioner found that out when, after years developing an act on his size, he lost a significant amount of weight..."and thirty minutes of material." Still definitely better for Bob that he was able to stick around to write different stuff... And a good reminder to me to quit putting off losing the weight that I need to lose myself...)
Lavell talks about how being asked to buckle his seat belt in his friends' cars can be difficult for him. "By the time I get it clicked, they're like 'We're here.'"
He ends by describing how happy his seat belt is to be released after efforting to hold him in. He imagines the seat belt, refusing to roll back in...but flopping outside the car...saying "I don't wanna be a seat belt anymore..."
It's an insanely funny idea--to personalize the poor put upon seat belt.
Nice work, Lavell. If I'm putting myself into the minds of one of the audience members who'll vote on the Capitol One Audience Favorite award, I'd be hard pressed not to give it to Lavell...and sure enough, a large selection of the audience--including the talent scout panel--give the big man a big standing ovation...
I mean, he's no Dante or anything...but they seemed to like him.
Back stage, he walks past Amy Schumer and Sean Rouse--again, suggesting a twisting of the timeline that we're being presented.
If your fragile little minds are as warped as mine is by all of this...better that we take another quick break, yes?
See you back here for more of this second semi-finals night.
THIS RECAP CONTINUES IN THE REPLY BELOW!!!