I was wrong.
I'd said that I've never been more certain of something in my life...when I predicted that Iliza Shlesinger would come in third in this season's Last Comic Standing...and I was wrong.
I argued with people who firmly believed that she'd had the loudest cheers on the final performance show, I argued with people who believed that because she was the last woman on the show she'd get the needed votes, I argued with people who believed that because she'd been picked on and came out victorious that she'd earned the respect she'd need to get the needed votes, I argued with people who believed that the show's producers were setting things in motion for her to become the first female Last Comic Standing including giving her the last performance slot on the performance finale...
I argued with all of that...and I was wrong.
To my credit, I got the rest of the finalists predicted in order...other than Iliza, who leaped from my prediction of third to first. Marcus beat Jeff who beat Jim and Louis. I got all that right.
Some may wonder if my knowing Marcus and Jeff made me over-value their support. I'd like to think that I'm able to put my personal feelings aside when it comes to things like this. I went out of my way to make certain that I was taking the temperature of motivated voters who had no ties to the Pacific Northwest...who didn't have the connections to Marcus or Jeff that I do... And it sure looked like those two guys were who America was truly getting behind.
Did I fail to account for how polarizing Marcus and his impressions-based performances were? Did I fail to recognize that Marcus' trying to distance himself from his crowd pleasing impressions might have eroded his fan base? Did I over value Jeff's stand-up because I've seen him develop his act? Did I over value the idea that Jeff being a good looking guy would generate more votes that Iliza being a hot girl would?
Or does it go further than that?
I went back to my original notes...all the way back to the San Francisco night show auditions. You see, even though I didn't advance to the celebrity auditions, I'd bought myself a ticket to see the night show. Turned out to be a good move as a few of my friends made it to the night show...Andy Haynes, Jesse Case, Joe Klocek and Jeff Dye.
During the show, just to check back later when the episode aired, I took notes.
I thought that one female performer would get a red envelope and make it onto the show...and that one female performer was...Whitney Cummings. She was incredibly funny and original, with good energy and an edge. (She actually DID get a red envelope that night...but she turned down the show, I believe, because she was involved in another show that would conflict with LCS...but Whitney ended up becoming the Last Comic Driving last night. Good for her.)
Iliza Shlesinger was on that show, too...and yes, her bending over to see down her shirt to see both cleavage and bra-inside...and her low-rise, those muscles aren't meant to be seen by anyone other than your OB-GYN, jeans...both were noticeable by those of us in the far back row of Cobb's in SF.
While I thought she got some laughs and had a decent set, I didn't think she'd had a good enough set to make it past that night. And, when Whitney Cummings went up three people later (two of those people were Drennon Davis and Jeff Dye)--it was clear that Whitney was much stronger.
What I wrote in my notes was "typical angry hot girl...audiences can't relate because they think she's got everything, why is she complaining" and "nice energy in the act out, will look good on tv...won't move on."
When it came time to find out who were getting red envelopes (and this is before we all figured out that not everyone that got red envelopes would actually move on)--the crowd was SHOCKED...when the first one went to Drennon Davis, as he'd only gotten one laugh in his entire set... The second one went to Mike E. Winfield, who also didn't have the strongest set that people had seen him do...but he was young and telegenic (compared to Warren B. Hall who had a stronger set on that night but was older...and didn't get picked). When the third envelope went to Iliza Shlesinger, there were boos heard in Cobb's...and the people seated around me were beginning the "it's all rigged just to put the hot people on the show...not the funny ones"--which was hard for me to hear, since I was friends with Jeff Dye and rooting for him to make the show...
The next envelopes went to Andy Haynes (and the crowd cheered, as he'd had a great set...too bad the producers chose not to actually invite him to the semi-finals), Whitney Cummings (more cheering...these results were closer to the show that we'd seen...), the Meehan Brothers (who are popular in San Francisco, but it didn't make much sense to move them on...as no one understood how they could do what they do on the show)...and then, the last red envelope...didn't go to Joe Klocek, who almost everyone in the audience felt had the best set...but, instead, it went to Jeff Dye...who almost everyone in the audience felt had done good enough to advance, but that he hadn't done better than Joe...
After the show, I saw how close Jeff and Bill Bellamy were. Bill had been part of a pre-show series of unannounced drop in secret auditions in a handful of cities--Seattle was one...and Jeff was chosen as a result of one of those. That's the way to be selected for the show, by the way--after doing your normal set in front of a hot, weekend, comedy club audience...not two minutes of panic at 9am in the morning in front of two producers.
I'll be honest...I thought that the producers might be setting up the show for Jeff to win. He's got an incredible back-story that I was amazed wasn't touched upon during the course of the show.
I'll be honest again...it got out pretty early on that Marcus had signed on with Barry Katz...the comedy mega-agent who is one of the executive producers of the show. Again, for those of you who like the feel of a tin-foil hat, the elements were in place to grease a path to victory for the tattooed impressionist.
...and I knew once I heard that Louis Ramey had made the semi-finals that he was the seasoned veteran who probably deserves to win competitions like this by default.
I just never warmed to Iliza...based on my impression of her act that night in San Francisco... And, unlike many of you, nothing that she did on the show made me think differently of her. Her voice is remarkably consistent...I never thought she killed, but I never thought she struggled either... She looked like a constipated Tea Leoni with a tomboyish exhibitionist streak...and she kept picking on the very people that I thought she'd need to vote for her.
Assuming that there are no need to wear tinfoil hats, I can only say that my estimation of how America took to her was inaccurate...
And so, Hott4Hill and LadyWyntre...and anyone else who kept trying to tell me that this was Iliza's competition, and I just wouldn't listen...I'm now sitting down to a steaming bowl of hot and crunchy crow soup. (It's crunchy because I've left the bones in the crows...figuring that you'd want them to stick in my throat.)
I said I wouldn't be outraged if she won--and I'm not...but I AM surprised.
And, I'm disappointed that my friends didn't come away with the victory tonight.
However, don't cry for either of them, Argentina. Marcus is still a crowd-pleasing comic who will work incredibly hard to develop his skills in such a way that people don't try to slag him off as being too much like Frank Caliendo or Pablo Francisco or, as I've heard recently, Dave Attell...he's sharp, he's smart and he's got what it takes to really blow up on stages in front of impossibly large audiences...and that's not going to desert him anytime soon. And Jeff Dye has an act that will continue to kill at colleges...he's been seen on national television and you can't tell me that there aren't casting agents drooling at the thought of casting such a good looking, leading man type who is genuinely funny but doesn't threaten or lose the female audience by being funny...he's going to have to figure out if he wants to pursue stand-up or acting...and he'll have his choice.
And I think Jim & Louis are each going to do just fine themselves.
Iliza...she's going to get a bump from this. If she was featuring before, she'll be top-of-the-bill headlining now...and it already seems like she's more prepared to do that than Dat Phan was... If sketch comedy is her thing, I can see her on Mad-TV...or maybe on a new group that might fill in where The State or Upright Citizen's Brigade had once made their mark.
And me? Well, I'll never make so certain of a prediction again. For one thing, this soup tastes like crap...for Triumph to poop on.
pg--I voted for Jeff, I predicted Marcus...and it turned out to be Iliza. And, so it goes.--seattle