Everything else has been prelude to tonight, ladies and gentlemen...and you are here to witness it.
Welcome everyone to the FORT's Last Comic Standing Forum...where tonight, the preliminaries are over...the semi-finals have given us a cast...and we will begin to see the real show...the real Last Comic Standing.
My name is pg13 and I'm your recapper.
I'm looking forward to tonight, as I know that all of you are...but we go into this show with very heavy hearts... Comedy is nothing but reflective of the moments that we all live through... Our laughs have to be tempered with our feelings regarding we a horrible tragedy that took place tonight...
So, please...let us all bow our heads...and think of the innocent victims of tonight's inconceivable nightmare, this catastrophe of engineering and ill fortune...and give them a moment of silence.
I've lived in Minneapolis, I have friends that still live in Minneapolis...I know there are FORTskateers who live in the area and I hope that all of them are safe and sound. This is just a silly recap of a sillier reality tv show...and the I-35W Bridge Collapse is an example of how unsilly real reality can be.
What happened in Minneapolis tonight puts in laser sharp contrast how much I've overreacted to the previews of tonight's episode of Last Comic Standing. I've treated what I expect to see tonight as a tragedy--because it impacts my livelihood, as a comedian. It isn't a tragedy...it's just a damn shame. Foolish, shortsighted...and a shame.
I'm talking, of course...about all of the working comedians who will have to put up with idiots who think that heckling is an expected part of the comedy show experience...a thought that will, undoubtedly, be reinforced by tonight's episode of Last Comic Standing as they've previewed that they will once again give us another version of last year's abominable "Heckler Challenge."
It's not a tragedy...it's just a damn shame.
They've got this opportunity to celebrate the BEST of what comedy offers us...that rare chance to get together and enjoy ourselves--to laugh with others... Instead, they're going to show us how people can ruin that wonderful thing...and they're going to make it seem like a good thing.
Life is too short...too precious...for the few good things in life to be ruined.
Tonight...every night...I'm asking that everyone keep their table conversations to a whisper--a minimum. I'm going to ask that everyone silence their cellphones...and if you need to take or make a call, please excuse yourself from the show room and step outside. And I'm asking that you not heckle the performers... All of this is for your enjoyment...and the enjoyment of those seated around you.
Most importantly, I'm asking you to leave the worries of the world behind for the next hour or so...and let yourself have a good time tonight.
Heaven knows we need it.
Let's go to the show.
Hey, Keep It Going For Last Comic Standing: The pg13 LCS Recap
Episode Seven: I Don't Come To Where You Work! (Part One)
Bill Bellamy begins tonight's show by lying to us.
He starts off the opening montage by telling us that the ten best comics in the world have been chosen to compete in this season's Last Comic Standing.
While I certainly admire the ability for the ten comics chosen, I can certainly think of ten comics around the world better than these ten--they just have no reason to jump through the hoops that these ten are going to jump through, to bark when NBC wants them to bark, or to prove themselves in challenges designed to give game structure to a subjective art like stand-up comedy.
Imagine George Carlin on a scavenger hunt, Eddie Izzard performing in a laundromat, Dave Chappelle forced to walk Venice Beach handing out flyers to get people to come see him perform...
These, Bill, are simply the ten people who made it through an often confusing process by which a reality tv show has been cast. Because unless they snuck in Sabrina Matthews and Arj Barker into the cast, I don't think they even got the ten best comics from the semi-finals--much less the world.
But now I'm just exposing a lingering bitterness that many Last Comic Standing watchers have been expressing regarding the drawn out audition process--where we see the best moments of the comics who don't move on, and the less-than-best moments from those who do.
TONIGHT, if our friend Bill can refrain from lying to us and if our friends, the Magical Elves, can trust us enough to handle the truth, all of that chicanery can be dispensed with...and we can see, once and for all, out of these ten candidates, who is the funniest.
To remind you--our ten finalists are: Doug Benson, Lavell Crawford, Dante, Gerry Dee, Debra DiGiovanni, Ralph Harris, Matt Kirshen, Jon Reep, Amy Schumer and Gina Yashere.
We see moments from each of the contestants--either from performances or from interviews. Amy Schumer ONCE AGAIN gives us an amazingly generic World Peace answer... Gina Yashere is playing into the whole pretend-reality-show-villain thing. Gerry Dee thinks that this is the best cast that LCS has ever had--and I'll have to consider that for a moment, because there ARE some heavy hitters in this bunch...I really can't dismiss that comment out of hand.
Oh, and Doug Benson looks and sounds crazy. Bless ya, Doug...bless ya.
Bill explains that this is the challenge round--that, starting tonight, our contestants will be made to do stupid things...and then they go through the whole "I know I'm funnier than..." process...and then, like last year, they'll be forced into performing in head-to-head-to-head competitions where two performers get eliminated.
Let me get this out of the way--I don't like the "three way, two go home" structure. While it has its obvious limitations, there was a satisfaction in the dramatic one on one challenge of the first two seasons...there was strategy, there was...to choose a word for it...closure. You don't get that when three people perform and only the top one moves on. But, I think it'll become clear as this recap goes on, IT'S NOT LIKE THEY LISTEN TO ME WHEN IT COMES TO DECIDING WHAT TO DO ON THIS SHOW.
Now, we've all heard the rumors--confirmed by this introduction--that this year, there is no "house." For those of you who have not watched Last Comic Standing previously, in Seasons 1, 2 and 4...the comics all lived together...and their living together was filmed.
In Season 1, the stuff that happened in the house was the highlight of the show. Dave Mordal, Ralphie May, Rich Vos, Dat Phan, Sean Kent, Cory Kahaney, Tere Joyce...the rat, the hide and seek, the martial arts training, the whirlpool bath, the Don--these were classic reality show moments.
Season 2--less so, although that was no fault of Todd Glass, certainly. It seemed like more people in Season 2 were trying to "win the game" than to present wonderful entertainment.
Season 4, they put them on a boat instead of a house...and we saw a whole four minutes of things that happened on the boat. Stella got into a fight, Josh Blue tried to make it impossible for Kristen Key to have children and there was a lame spooky dinner.
This season--no house. All right, I get it--more time for stand-up comedy, right? Not really--the rest of the show will be exactly the same...challenges followed by competition--there's not MORE stand-up because there's no house...there's just no house.
But, because there's "no house"--that means there's no obvious place to put the "photo booth" where the contestants, each week, will go into and boldly state, in secret, who they "know" that they're funnier than...and then those "secret" tapes are shown immediately to everyone. (I know, I know...it doesn't make ANY sense...but it works, somehow.)
Since there's no "obvious" place for that photo booth, the Magical Elves thought to themselves, why not put it on the 50 yard line of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum?
Makes perfect sense to me.
Of course, I'm also hopped up on goofballs right now, so EVERYTHING makes perfect sense to me. (I HAVE to be hopped up on goofballs--there's heckling coming later on in this show...)
Hey, my tape is exactly forty seconds into this week's show and ALREADY my recap is longer than the recap for any other show being covered by the FORT. You'd think they were paying me by the word or something... (You'd think they were paying me, period.)
High over the hills of Los Angeles is the famous Griffith Observatory. When I see the Griffith, I immediately think of James Dean...and "Rebel Without a Cause." Last Comic Standing gives me Debra DiGiovanni. Well, it IS a comedy show, right?
Debra says that she's happy to be in L.A.--that it feels like "small town girl makes good"...but she feels somewhat intimidated by her fellow finalists...and somewhat excited. Basically, Debra is the emotional equivalent of Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans.
Up rolls the Last Comic Standing short bus... Lavell Crawford steps onto the bus and the bus rolls over and dies. The Magical Elves are on hold with the SeaWorld people--as they hope to find out how they transport Shamu...thinking that might help them solve their transportation issues--but then Amy Schumer says her words of World Peace encouragement to the bus and, like Tinkerbell responding to the audience's applause, the bus hears Amy's words and has found reason enough to live.
OK, that didn't happen. What happened was that the short bus rolled up and Doug Benson pointed out that Lavell Crawford is a large man. But wasn't MY version more dramatic?
Then, the Magical Elves TRUMP my story entirely by introducing us to the bus driver. Ladies and Gentlemen, all the way from the wilds of Canada...it's the World's Funniest Simian...Mel Silverback!!!
Oh, let the wackiness ensue!
Since there's no house for the comedians, there's nowhere for the short bus to take them...except to The Icehouse. The Icehouse is one of the top places to see comedy in the Los Angeles area...and the comedians roll out of the short bus to face an audience waiting in line to get in...
The comics roll right past them to find the club empty, except for Bill Bellamy on stage. A snarkier recapper than me might point out that Bill must be used to that--but that's not my style, FORTskateers... I like to save my snark for Ant--and I think he's gone...
Bill explains to the comics that they're in "the challenge round" and that tonight's challenge...will be...the Heckler Challenge.
And the smiles that were on all of the contestants' faces disappear.
Hey, everyone...welcome to this great thing! We just killed your dog.
It was like that.
There's no love inside the Icehouse.--lyrics to the song "Icehouse" by the 80's Australian pop band Icehouse. How's THAT for an obscure refefrence?
Jon Reep says that he already knows that he won't be good at this--but he hopes he's "good enough" to survive.
I hope that we're ALL good enough to survive, Jon...
Here's how it works. Comedians are paired up...one will perform while the other will heckle them, to try to throw them off their game...the performer is supposed to not be distracted by the heckler and/or shut the heckler down--that's one thing that was unclear in how it was run last year... Then, they flip roles.
Bill, showing that the Magical Elves REALLY AND TRULY BELIEVE IN THIS CHALLENGE, unveils a new piece of machinery...the Comic Picker 2000. It's basically a lottery-style ping-pong ball popper...one that will shoot out a ping pong ball into one of two tubes--one labeled performer, the other labelled heckler.
There is no tube labeled "refusing to participate in this sham, mockery, very bad idea"--but there's always hope that someone will pick up the torch that Joey Gay lit last year.
See, they had this same challenge last year...and Joey Gay refused to heckle April Macie. A lot of reality tv fans hated him for it...others didn't understand it...but most comics that I know who paid attention consider Joey to be a hero.
Well, not April Macie--see, the contest hinges not only on your ability to heckle but to handle the heckling. By not heckling April, Joey basically ruined her chances to win the challenge.
Personally, I'm with Joey--this is one challenge that I wouldn't WANT to win.
But, the ping pong balls are flying and we've got pairs to announce.
Lavell Crawford faces off with Debra DiGiovanni
Gina Yashere faces off with Ralph Harris
Dante faces off with Doug Benson
Amy Schumer faces off with Matt Kirshen
Jon Reep faces off with Gerry Dee
That's rather curious, isn't it?
Those pairings seem almost TOO perfect to me... I'm not going to put on a tinfoil hat, but think about how perfectly matched all of those pairings are... Weird. It would almost be like sending the top two NBA draft picks to Portland and Seattle--oh wait...they did!
Bill, explaining the rules for this year's Heckler Challenge, says that The Ice House audience will choose "the performer they felt handled the heckling the best."
So...there's no benefit for doing good heckles this year, other than simply throwing the other performer off their game. That was proven out LAST year, where the person rated the best heckler basically didn't do anything but call the performer a "bitch" over and over again. (Hey, let's give a shout out to last year's best heckler--Roz, everybody!)
AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGH! This whole challenge makes my skin crawl!
IMMUNITY is at stake. Win the audience's approval for having handled the heckling the best and you can't end up in this week's head-to-head-to-head challenge... That's incentive enough for trying to ruin comedy for the rest of us, I guess.
Let me just get all of my cards on the table. YES, all comedians have to learn how to deal with the drunken idiots who can't bear to let someone else have the spotlight for even a moment... YES, sometimes a comedian can deal with a heckler in an amusing way--and the fact that comedy is live and can incorporate an unscripted moment is one of the things that makes live comedy magical. But somehow, audiences have begun to believe the lie that comedians WANT the audience to heckle them--some idiots actually are proud of how they "helped" a show that they really came close to ruining. This challenge perpetuates that lie.
Are comedians good at making snarky comments, especially about fellow comedians? Sure. Are comedians able to rip on each other back and forth? Many of them are... But putting this in a comedy club--to entertain an audience--and then celebrating the result as something wonderful and funny--sends an awful message.
If they're going to test a comedian's ability to handle a heckler, I'd rather they drag Robin Ficker (go ahead, Google him...) out of obscurity and have HIM heckle the comedians...right up to the point where Robin gets thrown out of the club. And have him seen to be thrown out of the club for EVERY performer that he heckles--to reinforce the point that heckling is bad and heckling will end your time at the comedy club and that everyone should cheer when the heckler is thrown out...
There. I've said it. Like I said, they don't listen to me about how I think the show should be...so let me just get back to recapping the show that they HAVE made.
Debra, who will be heckling Lavell first tonight, says that "We haven't even had a chance to bond with each other, now we'll be heckling." And I understand her pain--after all, would YOU want Lavell mad at you? He might crush you by ACCIDENT--you wouldn't want him gunning for you...
One thing that they do right is that they've announced to the audience that this is a challenge--they've clearly identified the person who is going to be doing the heckling and that that's what they'll be doing. (I can just imagine the hellishness that would happen if suddenly people from the audience started heckling on their own...to "join in the fun" as it were.)
It's time for FORT SportsCenter...duhhh-duhhh-dun, duhh-duhhh-dun! Hey, let's just call it FORTCenter, huh? Here, then, are highlights from tonight's action in the bigs...
Lavell Crawford, heckled by Debra DiGiovanni
Debra lets Lavell's first joke (about being too lazy to get the remote control from the tv and resigning himself to watch whatever's on instead) go by. Ball one. Lavell gets in a second joke (about getting out of cutting the grass by giving a fat, lazy look) is called a strike, and the pause for laughter allows Debra her first opportunity to heckle.
Debra: I thought Biggie Smalls was dead.
Lavell: Hey, look here, white lady, you do NOT want to heckle me. I got one like you in my trunk right now.
It's deep and I don't think it's playable. Put it on the board? Yes!
The audience cheers and they show a close-up of an audience member who, in one of the absolute WORST displays of an extra overacting in a role since the person sitting behind Frances McDormand in the graduation scene of Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" movie, mouths the words "Oh, that's BAD!" like she was speaking to a deaf person with astigmatism.
Debra: I want my bra back.
Lavell: You want your bra back? You NEED to, to support those cannonballs. Cause I bet those hurt when you do jumpin' jacks...
Easy pop fly...caught by the shortstop. One out.
Of course, because heckling is the height of comedy (in their twisted minds) the Magical Elves cut to audience close-ups of them laughing uproariously. Ooops--they forgot to sweeten the audio...so, basically, we see someone laughing like Chris Rock just landed his closer...only we hear mild, scattered applause. To quote Eric Cartman, "You have warped my fragile little mind."
Lavell: Don't be mad at me because my boobies bigger than yours.
Here's a problem for Debra. She smiles and laughs at EVERYTHING. Her enjoyment of the process is giving the audience the idea that what Lavell is doing is somehow funny...nay, near-on brilliant.
Debra: That's not what you said last night.
Lavell: I didn't say nothin' to you last night. I still don't know how you got untied.
Solid contact there... Stroking a single to left field...
And with that, Lavell's done. By MY scoring...1 run, 1 hit, 1 out. He was forced to stop doing his act and he made fun of a loud fat woman by claiming that he kidnaps them. And Debra's crying, she's laughing so hard...
Debra returns to the "heckler holding room" like she's seen a ghost. She says that Lavell destroyed her, that he's a "force" to be reckoned with, and she promises to never heckle him again.
Jon Reep, heckled by Gerry Dee
Gerry lets Jon get a rhythm going, with a bit about the sound effects they play at Carolina Panthers football games. Lots of energy, lots of noises, lots of physicality...and it looks like Gerry Dee might be going for the Joey Gay award.
Gerry: Hey! Aren't you the Hemi Guy?
...and there goes his award.
Strike one, strike two, strike three...down on strikes. One out.
Actually, this is something that Jon hears a lot...so, he should have an answer for it... Jon seems to be acknowledging the truth of this--hint to Jon, go rent the last season of West Wing...and learn the lesson that Leo McGarry learned--NEVER accept the premise of a question.
Gerry: Does that mean you have half an act or half a mouth?
Uhhhh...wild pitch! If there was anyone on base, they'd be moving up right now...
Do YOU get that? Half a mouth? What? (On the other hand, it's weird enough to throw someone who thinks in a logical and linear manner off...so it might be effective.)
Jon, however, acts as if this was a brilliantly incisive heckle. He gets shifted into a joke about how he has a tiny mouth and no lips, so he thinks his face looks funny...
Jon: I don't know if you can tell--
Gerry: We can tell.
Jon: Here's me making a weird face--
Gerry: Do some more sound effects.
That's a called third strike. Two down.
Jon: You know, Gerry's been drinking since noon--
Gerry: Go back to the Dolphins.
Jon: Alcohol kills brain cells, so I think your drink is looking for something to do.
Hit off the end of the bat...the right fielder's got a long run...he can't get there...AND IT GETS PAST HIM!
Jon: Nothin' up here, let's go to the LIVER!
Around third base, heading for home...no, he's held up on third. Held up by the third base coach.
And with that Jon's done. No runs, one hit, two outs. Gerry threw him off his game...and Jon only got control back by going with a very generic anti-heckler line.
Amy Schumer, heckled by Matt Kirshen
Amy starts by asking how the audience is...which is a candy-coated opportunity that is basically BEGGING Matt to start in. Perhaps it was a trap? Is Amy THAT strategically astute? Matt doesn't say anything, so he either wasted an opportunity or deftly avoided an ambush.
Amy, as is her style, talks about how pretty she thinks she is...but that guys didn't notice her until she got her braces off...her legs. A REAL drunken a-hole heckler wouldn't miss an opportunity to either call her ugly (and ruin the entire conceit of Amy's approach)...or to tell her to just shut up and expose her breasts. Matt doesn't say anything...so, either he's a fine, young English gentlemen...or he thinks he's got a shot with Amy.
Amy: So, business got a lot better.
Matt: You were giving it away.
Amy: Sir, if you knew me, you'd know that I was making them pay for it.
Foul ball...playable. Catcher's off with his mask. One out.
Amy's basically saying that she's either a prostitute or a bitch...that's not a good strategy, is it?
Matt: I know you...so does everyone else in this town.
Amy: Excuse me, can someone tell me why there's a fetus in the third row?
Fly ball...left field...hooking, hooking...foul...
Amy: ...I thought I took care of you in college.
CORRECTION! It looked foul but the umpires are signaling home run. Touch 'em all!
And with that, Amy's done. One run, one hit, one out. She was willing to seem mean in order to shut a heckler down--would have been interesting to see her return to her full set, which would seem to depend on being in the audience's good graces for it to work properly.
Gina Yashere, heckled by Ralph Harris
Ralph allows Gina to get her first joke out fully--about how people think that her accent is cute, but she doesn't want to be cute, she wants to be "ghetto." She opens the door for Ralph by ending her joke with someone stealing her watch--when she's wearing a rather iced out watch at the moment, but Ralph let's that one slide.
Instead, Ralph goes for the throat. Literally.
Ralph: What's that on your throat?
Gina: That's where your boyfriend bit me last night.
Weak dribbler hit to the second basemen. Thrown out at first. One down.
Ralph: Yeah? Well, it's crawling towards your mouth.
Nothing but gas. High heat on three straight pitches...for the K. Two outs.
Gina: I'm being heckled by a broke Bill Cosby, what's that about?
With the infield back, Gina lays down a bunt...infield single. It wasn't pretty or powerful, but she's got a base runner. You need base runners to score.
And with that, Gina's done. No runs, one hit...barely at that, two outs. Ralph laughed at her Bill Cosby line, which helped her get the hit...but Ralph did what real hecklers do...he ruined whatever Gina might have wanted to do by pointing out something obvious--in this case, the oddly shaped growth on Gina's neck.
Meanwhile, Dante's in the back...saying that he likes hecklers, he invites them to his shows, that he tells security to leave them alone...that he's ready for them.
I know, I know...Dante participates in a message board for comedians that I participate on...and I don't want to slam the guy--but I don't like his act (based on the "Wizard of Oz" bit that got him here) and I HATE this attitude.
AND he's going up against Doug Benson, who is on a DIFFERENT message board for comedians that I'm also on...who has the necessarily sarcastic approach to this show that saves it from the earnestness of those who really think that this show, and how this show works, matters... Worse, for Dante, Doug runs a show called "The Doug Benson Interruption" at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles--where Doug invites his smart, funny, semi-famous comedian friends to do some time...but Doug interrupts them whenever he feels like it.
Now, I know that "sounds" like heckling...but from what I've seen from clips I've found on line, is set up a little bit more like a panel/talk show. What it DOES mean is that Doug is a practiced veteran at skewering smart comedians... I'm reminded of that commercial--"I threw paper!" "I threw a rock."
This could get ugly.
Dante, heckled by Doug Benson
Dante, like Amy, opens by asking the audience how they're doing. Doug let's it go by.
Dante announces that he likes to go to battered women's shelters, kick in the door and shout "WHERE IS SHE?" Doug, looking somewhat smug, looks around the room to gauge how this young, mostly female audience is reacting to this.
Dante continues, shouting "YOU WITH THE BRUISES, ANSWER ME!" Doug lets it go by.
Dante admits that was a joke and that he's actually the father of a four year old--and that it's hard being a comic and a father.
Doug: What's your last name, Dante..."IsNotFunny"?
Uhhhh...what was that? They're sending the batter back to the dug out. Evidently, he's been called out... Not sure why.
Doug did this with a nearly robotic voice. I don't know if Doug is making a "meta-joke" about heckling, about this competition...or if he was putting extra mocking-mustard on this heckle. Dante reacts by overreacting. It looks like Dante is winding up for a reply, but before he gets it out, Doug keeps going.
Doug: Because that would be a very bad last name for a comic who has a child to raise.
Fouled off and out of play.
Dante: I don't know whether your eye is lazy or just hates to work.
Contact there...and it gets past the shortstop. Dante's got a solid single.
Dante, thinking this episode is over after getting Doug to laugh at him, struggles for a moment to regain his place...allowing Doug an opportunity to counter.
Doug: Of course one of my eyes wants to get out of here when you're on stage.
Come-backer to the mound...
Dante: It's crazy that I can smell your breath from here.
...but Dante had sent the runner, so there's no play at second...
Dante: Every time you talk, your teeth are ducking...
...and no play at first!!! Two on, one out...
Doug tries to counter that rather generic approach, but Dante is ready.
Dante: Dude, you talk too much...I'm not even going letting you talk--
Doug: YOU talk too much, you're the one--
Dante: You talk too much. I could cut off your head and it'd still be on the ground, saying some unfunny bleep. Trust me.
Hot shot...OFF THE FIRST BASEMAN'S GLOVE! Down the line into the outfield. One run will score...two runs will score... Runner on second base... Wow!
Dante: I want to say this. Thank you for being part of my dream.
Oooh, the runner didn't touch first base...he's out on appeal. The two runs count, but that's two outs.
Sorry, but a cloying line like that...especially in this abomination of a challenge--strikes me like someone's working hard to get a sympathy edit--and we can't support that kind of strategy...not after Season One...
And with that, Dante's done. Two runs, two hits, one error...two outs.
As Doug Benson leaves the stage, there's an audience member who mimics a boxer throwing combinations back and forth--indicating, to that audience member's mind, that both got in their shots.
Back stage, Dante claims that he destroyed Doug.
Doug, in an interview segment, admits that Dante is good at dealing with hecklers...but then gives us snarklovers a bite when he adds "...it's obvious that it happens to him a lot."
Sometimes hecklers simply exist...above and beyond whatever the comedian on stage might say or do. As in, the drunken idiot shouts out stuff no matter what's happening. I've seen Dave Chappelle heckled. In the movie "Jerry Seinfeld Comedian", Jerry gets heckled... It happens and it's a waste of time and talent.
BUT...truth be told, some comedians get heckled more than others. Sometimes they don't command the stage, sometimes their material is weak or is false or erases any expectation of audience respect, sometimes they invite more heckling by being pro-active in being mean to the audience...
I know from personal experience that when I was a weaker comedian, I got heckled a lot more...and now, for whatever reason, I rarely get heckled when I perform now.
Knock on something wood-like. Seriously, by saying that, I don't mean to bring down the wrath of whatever from high a top the thing...and if I do, I'll go outside, turn around and spit...or swear...or whatever it takes...not to get heckled...
Doug promises that when the roles are reversed, he'll do whatever he has to...to not let Dante talk at all during his set.
"I'm going to beat him at his own game," Doug predicts, "And his game is Parcheesi"
...and with that, we go to our first commercial break...
You know, this new ad for the "Underdog" movie did NOT change my mind about how bad this movie looks...
But, then again, "The Singing Bee" is the big hit of the summer and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" beat the new Harry Potter movie at the box office...so who knows whether America is smart enough to stay away from that dog of a movie...
Get it? Dog of a movie?
Maybe I DESERVE to get heckled...
Back to Last Comic Standing's miscarriage of the trust of the potential American comedy club audiences--I mean, heckler challenge...and now, we're switching the pairs around... We're putting the hecklers on stage and sending the performers into heckle mode.
And for highlights, let's go back to FORTCenter...
Doug Benson, heckled by Dante
Doug...offering his belly with the "Hey Everybody" generic open, closes the vulnerability quickly with a preemptive strike...
Doug: Look who's got the boomstick now!
Swinging at a pitch way over his head, Doug snaps a shot that bounces right off the bag at third and bounces into the stands. I think that's a ground rule double, isn't it? If so...that's a weird way to get a runner in scoring position, especially...to start an inning...
Doug: In my spare time, I like to go to battered women's shelters...
Doug gets hit by a pitch... Take your base. Two on, nobody out!
Brilliant and sublime move there...to basically retell Dante's opening joke--after all, what comedian thinks of ways to heckle his own material?
Doug: ...and donate money, because it is a GOOD CAUSE.
OOOOH, A HARD SHOT RIGHT BACK THROUGH THE MOUND! Dante, knocked over on his keister by that hard line drive... One run comes around to score...and Doug's got runners on first and third...STILL nobody out!
Doug: I kick down the door and shout: HERE'S SOME MONEY, BITCHES!!!
Ball four...and the bases are loaded.
At this point in time, Doug's REAL strategy kicks in. Dante tries to yell out something, but Doug, using the absolute power of the microphone, simply shouts over him.
Doug: NOBODY CAN HEAR DANTE!!!
There's another walk...and that scores a run, as there's nowhere to put anyone...all the bases remain full!
Dante tries again--and Doug just makes a guttural noise that completely drowns him out. He's getting laughs by basically upending the entire process--which is a classic comedy move. Just, not a very game-friendly one...as Dante's helpless to interject anything.
Doug: SHLABBILY DABBILY DOODILY BAHHHHHHHH!
Pop up...behind shortstop...BUT NOBODY CALLS IT! IT DROPS IN FOR ANOTHER HIT!!! ANOTHER RUN WILL SCORE!!!
Doug allows the laughter...and the moment to pass... Dante winds up to try again, but when he starts saying something, Doug goes back to being loud...and he starts to add mockery, with a really sharp and bitter edge to it.
Doug: I've got a daughter, I need money...thank you for being part of my nightmare.
ANOTHER HOT SHOT...RIGHT BACK TO THE PITCHER--THIS TIME, HE'S DOWN...HE'S HURT... Another run scores, but Dante is down... He took a line drive right off the ego, there.
Folks, I tip my cap to the Magical Elves. I questioned their including the "Thanks for being part of my dream" line when Dante performed, but I see that was there to set up this response from Doug...
You know, I bet there are plenty of Americans who think that Doug is being really mean right now...and that Dante is coming off as rather sympathetic...but I am LOVING this right now...
Dante: You're the poor man's--
Doug: OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YEAHHHHHHHHH.
Another hit, another run... Dante is just incapable of getting anyone out here!
Doug: If you look up "funny" in a dictionary, you'll see a picture of Dante...WATCHING SOMEONE WHO IS FUNNY.
BREAK OUT THE RYE BREAD AND THE MUSTARD, GRANDMA...IT'S GRAND SALAMI TIME. MY OH MY, A GRAND SLAM HOME RUN...CLEARS THE BASES...SCORES FOUR MORE RUNS... This, officially, is a laugher, sports fans...
And, calling on the "mercy rule", perhaps, it is over Doug Benson. Nine runs, six hits...no outs. Wow.
And again, I laughed at this...but I laughed not because of the heckling...or because of the response to the heckling...but because of the response to someone reacting to being told that they will be judged on how they respond to heckling. Doug gamed the game. That turned out to be funny. Good for Doug.
Matt Kirshen, heckled by Amy Schumer
Matt: I've always looked young for my age...which was kind of creepy at birth.
Amy: Do you tell that joke when you were studying at Hogwarts?
Matt: You're adorable.
Oooooof, looked rather foolish swinging at that masterful knuckleball right there. He was nowhere near hitting that. Down on strikes he goes. One out.
Amy: Did you learn a lot while you were looking for The Ring?
Matt: Have you ever read a book for adults?
That was a hell of a pitch that Amy threw at him there, and Matt was good to get a piece of that... It drops in, just fair...and Matt's got himself a hit.
...and, with that, Matt's done. No runs, one hit, one out.
Ralph Harris, heckled by Gina Yashere
Ralph gets a good string of jokes in about the stinkiness of Parisians. Great timing, good act outs...and now, things will get ruined by a heckler saying something that has nothing to do with anything...
Gina: That shirt...you forgot to bring your collars.
Ralph: I forgot my collars?
Ralph: Well, I don't know where you're from, but we don't have to wear what they tell us to wear over here in the United States.
Gone. Ralph Harris gets served up a softball and he dutifully hits it over the fence. One run on the board.
Not to give legitimacy to this exercise, but when Ralph asked Gina "I forgot my collars"--he was exposed and vulnerable. A "I'm sorry, do you not speak English? Oh, I forgot...you're American, aren't you?" would have kept him on his heels. What a kind heckler to simply acknowledge the accuracy of Ralph's clarification of the original heckle.
And, going towards patriotism...always works. Ralph, a crafty veteran, he.
Ralph: The Queen doesn't have to call and say "Today, we're wearing collars."
He tried to knock another one out, but this is drifting...drifting...foul. Foul ball.
Gina: You look like a peanut with hair.
Ralph: I ain't even GOT hair. This isn't even my hair, girl. I'm a cancer patient, this is my wig.
Double down the right field line...and Ralph is teeing off on these easy pitches being tossed off by Gina. He's not even hitting the ball all that hard...the ball is just jumping off his bat.
Crafty veteran, he, Ralph went with a standard technique of making the heckler feel socially awkward. It's a great strategy because it gets the audience firmly on your side...without you seeming to be mean. SHE should feel bad because HE'S (although obviously not) a cancer patient that she just made fun of... Classic stuff there.
Ralph: And you oughtta know, because you got the one that I wanted.
Back to the warning track, to the wall... GOODBYE BASEBALL. A two run home run for Ralph Harris.
Gina fell victim to one of the classic blunders, one of which is don't get involved in a land war in Asia, but another one is don't make fun of someone's hair when you yourself can be made fun of for yours.
And Ralph's done. A workman-like effort against weak opposition, three runs on three hits, no outs.
Gerry Dee, heckled by Jon Reep
OK, before we recap this...can I just say this? What is up with this stupid trend of wearing shirts "out" and "untucked" and then stuffing the front behind your belt buckle? WHAT IS THAT???
Bill Bellamy did that, Gerry Dee is doing that... Are we supposed to be admiring the belt buckle? I thought that was just a country music/rodeo thing?
Look...tuck your shirt in (and if you're a larger man, remember to "blouse") or wear your shirt out--as that's a perfectly acceptable fashion choice now... Let's bag this whole "dip a finger's worth of fabric into the front of my pants" thing before it goes any further, ok???
Now then, here are the highlights...
Gerry talks about being a teacher...it's a long winded bit with too many meaningless details and not enough laughter--which is death if you're expecting to deal with hecklers.
Jon, picking up on one of those details, starts in asking Gerry to demonstrate some of the non-essential elements of the joke. Gerry tries to accept and continue.
Easy pop up...first baseman has it. One down.
Jon: Did you do that joke on Last Comic Standing 4?
Another pop up...this one drifting foul...foul...and out of play. Strike one.
Jon might have scored an out there, but it isn't THAT widely known that Gerry Dee was a semi-finalist for last season's show. In fact, I doubt that most Americans could name more than three or four of the actual finalists from last year, much less the semi-finalists... So, it's only a strike, not an out.
Gerry then starts doing Jon's joke about the Philadelphia Eagles...
He got that one...solid single into left field...
Jon, unheard because the audience was laughing at Gerry doing Jon's bit, tries to point out "That's funny, though..."
Gerry keeps going, adding the "I'm from Hickory, Dickery, Dockery..." AND THEN QUICKLY BAILS...
That looked ugly. A fly ball to center field...the runner at first had to hold up...not knowing if the center fielder could get to it. He couldn't...the ball dropped in for a hit... The runner, however, couldn't get to second base before being thrown out...so, it turns into a fielders choice. Two outs.
And that's it for Gerry. No runs, one...maybe two hits...two outs.
Making matters worse, they cut to an audience member who looked decidedly unimpressed.
Debra DiGiovanni, heckled by Lavell Crawford
Debra starts off by saying that it's summer, and she does it every year--she's supposed to be thin by now.
Lavell, sensing no opening there, pitches very carefully to Debra...perhaps too carefully...and that's ball four, allowing Debra a base runner on a walk.
Debra talks about how thin her personal trainer's hips are...she knows, because she measured them...as her trainer was too weak to move, "So hungry."
Lavell, being very careful, let's her walk again. Two runners on without a hit...or an out.
Lavell, finally warming for battle, asks, quite calmly--let's call Lavell the anti-Roz, if you remember last year--"Do you consider yourself big boned?"
Debra responds by accepting the premise of the question.
Lavell, pitching carefully, gets Debra to strike out on that one. One down.
Debra: Big boned? Big? You know what the only thing is, though, I don't have any back. I've got all side to side, I've got some front, but I've got no back.
Lavell: Oh, you've got a back--I saw it comin' after you.
Lavell, having her down 0-2, reaches back and throws some heat...no way Debra can catch up to that--two down!
Debra: There are these kind of guys who really do like me. I get these certain men, they really do like big women. Have you heard of them--they're called "chubby chasers?"
Lavell: Do you run?
Debra: That's the thing. Chubby chasers? I don't run...baby, that's the problem. You bend your knees, and I'm yours--that's how that works, baby...
I think Lavell was going for the strike out there...but he ended up pitching right into Debra's wheelhouse. She caught up to that, made solid contact...double off the wall... Might have been a triple, but Debra doesn't have that kind of a motor...
Lavell: How much is it for a pound?
Debra: If you outweigh me, then it's free...
Lavell: Who's going to be on top?
Debra: Who's going to HELP me get on top, I think, is the question...
Lavell: Who gonna help me get UP?
Debra swung a missed on strike three...but the catcher dropped the ball! Debra ran towards first, beating the throw to first...saving the inning...but the runner on second tried to come all the way around to score, got caught in a rundown...slid underneath the tag...SCORING A RUN...but then the runner on first was thrown out trying to advance to second...three outs, end of the inning... What a play!
...and that's it for Debra. She scores one run...on one hit, one error...three outs.
And that's it for this running baseball joke, too, ok?
Everyone in The Ice House is marking their ballots. We'll soon see if there IS any love inside The Ice House tonight. Bill tells them to vote on who was "the best performer of the evening." No other criteria...just "best performer."
Meanwhile, Amy Schumer--who, with her hair down, kind of looks a little like Janis Joplin and a little like the early Nicole Kidman, if that makes any sense--says that she, more than anybody, really needs immunity...because she doesn't have health insurance.
What comedian DOES, Amy? Seriously...
They keep adding each comedian's "years of comedy experience" to their identification graphic on the screen--so we see that Amy has been doing comedy for four years and Ralph Harris, who thinks his chances are pretty good but he heard good laughs for other people, too, so he doesn't know, has been doing this for twenty two.
I think if ANYONE needs health insurance, it'd be Ralph... Twenty-two years--he's probably due.
The audience has been sent home, the comedians have been brought out to hear the results...and Bill Bellamy never had to work this hard during the auditions, preliminaries or semi-finals--that's for sure...
Now, if we take my rather unscientific, and totally based on the edits that the Magical Elves gave us, baseball scoring method...the performer who scored the most hits against their heckler was Doug Benson...followed by Dante...followed by Ralph Harris.
Bill, on the other hand, knows the correct answer.
The winner of the Heckler Challenge, earning immunity for the week, is: Lavell Crawford.
Maybe, I should have gone with an Arena Football metaphor instead? Might have been more accurate...
Again--ask people to vote, they'll vote for who they LIKE...not "who they think is the BEST"--because that's how people are...
That said, Lavell certainly handled whatever Debra tried to bring at him... No outrage, I guess.
Bill hits Lavell up with a surprise--by winning the Heckler Challenge, he's won himself a chance to perform at the prestigious "Just For Laughs" festival in Montreal, Canada...which, admittedly, IS one of the biggest comedy/industry festivals in the world--if not THE biggest. It's a chance to open up the Gala--hosted by Howie Mandel. It's a cool prize.
Makes me wonder--which would I have rather had...the Montreal Festival gig or the Joey Gay award? It's a fair question. Do you turn down an opportunity over a principle? Hmmmmmmm... I'd like to think I would...but I don't know... I really don't know.
THIS RECAP CONTINUES IN THE REPLY DIRECTLY BELOW...