So I'm at my college reunion, thinking to myself, is it wrong for me to miss the Hollywood episode of season six of NBC's Last Comic Standing, can it wait until I get back on Sunday or not, or would it be more wrong, as in wronger, to leave the reunion to watch this comedy cavalcade? About five minutes into watching it now, I'm wondering if it might have been a better idea to pretend this episode did not exist.
Not that I'm not entertained at times, or that I get to see some faces of funny people I've seen and crossed paths with before, mind you. It's just...well...good decision to air New York City first, even though Hollywood auditioned first. Our celebrity judges are Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez from NBC's The Office, and Angela is just adorable! First comic they let us see is Ron G, and after a predictable bit that combines relationship humor with sports, he gets a callback, followed by a quote from Oscar about how he doesn't like predictable jokes. So there. Dana Eagle is next and makes Angela LOL and makes Oscar growlOL, so she's good for tonight, too. Then...a guy with a house on his head who, over and over again, swears he doesn't want to be a comic. We get it. Go away. What's Melissa Tracy holding in her other hand? A sword? That's freaky. Angela gasps. You get a minute or two and you choose this? A montage of similar suckage follows.
Amber Tozer gets the first offstage interview treatment, and pitches herself as a combo of Punky Brewster and Avril Lavigne. So we should not be surprised to see her get a callback. Oh, so now they explain this "funny booth" business. Adam Richmond has a vibe that says to me, Los Angeles comic, can I get your attention, please? He does. For now.
Bill Bellamy is rapping, for some reason. But there's a tease of Eddie Pepitone, so there's that to look forward to.
Dos Spanish Flies...so, could we see an entire show of musical duo parodies? Maybe. There's a lot of this "funny booth" business with folks remaining unidentified. Chris Fairbanks not only gets an ID, but also a separate interview, and his confusion over circumcisions and handshakes wins over the judges. Jacob Sirof is a Star Wars geek complete with multiple tats, which apparently, is going to come into play? He explains he's a geek, not a nerd. Erin Foley. Where have I seen her before? Not at the locksmiths, that's for sure. Jackie Kashian moved to L.A. from Wisconsin, and as Bellamy explains, you cannot turn down a turtleneck. Can you?
After the break, lots of crazies. And then there's Eddie Pepitone! At yoga class! This could be a separate show, you know. Ruby Wendell introduces herself as awkward, but she's so huggable she gets a callback. Ben Gleib compares women with fire. Angela says yes. Oscar says no. Interesting. Lots of people already shown getting passed on to the night showcase. As Oscar explains on camera after they say no to one guy, Patrick Ford, who they only sorta like, it's tough to say no to those comics who are good but not good enough. So that explains it. Jennifer Murphy is wearing two shirts because she's nervous. She shouldn't be, because she makes it through.
And now, the other contest, Last Comic Driving presents...Whitney Cummings. She has jokes about weddings, which is peculiar because she's in a movie out now that revolves around a wedding! OK. Maybe that's not so peculiar.
The green room for the live performance showcase looks packed with comics. How long was that show? Up first, Ron G, who explains to the British lady co-host that it's like waiting in line for the roller coaster at Six Flags, lots of waiting for three minutes of thrills. Thugs who dance? Mexico must be empty? The audience liked him. Erin Foley saw a billboard reminding you that in Mississippi, statutory rape is a crime, and proves that maybe you shouldn't be "absolutely obsessed with customer service." Jacob Sirof rebounds well after a fat girls joke gets silence. Dana Eagle gets her thong joke on national TV. Jennifer Murphy shows her nervous energy, again in two shirts. Adam Richmond shows how texting and driving is even worse than drinking and driving. Into a commercial break, we see that even more people got callbacks. Wow. Anyhow...
Esau McGraw opens with a visual joke about his clothing, and talks about what to do with your dumb relatives. Amber Tozer explains how she could be a lesbian for an hour. Ben Gleib doesn't like how you can get STDs on the computer, and observes how girls can go wild. Who's this lady with a guitar? It's Meghan Hounshell, and her song has a slow build to the punch. Chris Fairbanks can foil identity thieves. Dos Spanish Flies...why are they supposed to be Spanish, again? But they sing about how they love to fart, and everyone laughs at fart jokes. Jackie Kashian's husband makes video games, and breaks down the different levels of men in "the dork forest." Avi Lieberman gets his first camera time now, and says only in L.A., would there be a sense of shame about having an actual job. He was an elementary school teaching assistant, so he's got jokes about kids. Ruby Wendell's mom is too supportive. Eddie Pepitone reads Walt Whitman to calm him before going onstage. Who knew? It doesn't look like it calms him that much this night.
Time for tickets to the semis...Erin Foley! (let's pause for a second to see folks assembled onstage who we never saw on camera before, such as Dwayne Perkins! Wil Sylvince! wait, there's a bunch of other folks up there...including a female Pee-Wee?!) Ron G! Eddie Pepitone! Only one ticket left...and it goes to...Jackie Kashian!
And now...Houston. Our judges are Alfonso Ribiero and Neil Flynn. I'm not overly optimistic, but you never know who they'll have audition here, so let's go to the tape. That Houston gets less time than Hollywood and opens with The American Doll isn't helping. Chris Voth dedicates his set to Marcel Marceau and wonders about a mime funeral and how coke dealers embrace the metric system, and gets a callback. Flynn has some interesting things to say about how you can be funny in the office or at home, but that don't mean you're going to be funny onstage. Paul Varghese jokes about love. Three comics get callbacks without us learning who they are. First off camera interview goes to a segment about working the road and hotel rooms, with Andi Smith from St. Louis. Why does Ribiero close his eyes when he laughs? Just curious. There's a guy doing a full-fledged Robin Williams impersonation, and we don't get to know who he really is, but he's not impressing the judges like Marcus did in Tempe, so that's a no. Keisha Hunt is a ghetto girl in the suburbs, and they like her but not her material, so we'll have to see what happens. We get to see some BBQ, then some more "funny booth" silliness. There's Sheyla Almeida, and she has giant breasts, and the fact that I recognize her from her multiple appearances on The Insider in search of even larger FFF implants says something about me and my failings as an individual. That she's on this show, too, just proves that she simply wants the attention that comes with a TV camera. That's why we see her dance. We never hear her tell a joke, however. Bob Biggerstaff is next up, and has a Lou Gehrig's disease joke that works. Ian Varella is a ventriloquist without a dummy. It's a magic trick. But they don't like him enough. There's a bunch of nothing, including a Mike Tyson impersonation. The Other Brothers are jugglers but not brothers. It's an act. Mark Agee's hometown is perhaps the last spot to get a Wal-Mart. Does announcing roller derby make for good comedy? On the tracks, yes. On this TV show? Danny Rios makes it work.
At the audience showcase, it's time for Billy D. Washington to be the first African-American Tarzan. Mark Agee jokes about vegetarians. Paul Varghese schools us on British Indian history, and how Indians learned to adapt. Andi Smith jokes about San Antonio. And other things. Saleem Muhammad tells us that Last Comic Standing is the place to be in stand-up comedy, and I'm fairly sure the producers are happy to hear him say that. Will the crowd enjoy Danny Rios? Seems like it. What about Sarah Tollemache? Where'd she come from? She jokes about Halo 2 and how it ruins relationships. Chris Voth claims that LCS is what The Tonight Show used to be for comedy, so take that, Leno! Keisha Hunt smokes weed. Bob Biggerstaff jokes about self-checkout at the grocery store.
Time for tickets to the semis...Andi Smith! Only one other ticket? Hmmm. Bob Biggerstaff!
Several cities still to come. Does this mean I can go back to my reunion? Yes.
If you thought prelim 5 of the contest proved tough to judge, what to make of prelim 6, which had comics all over the map from good to bad to ugly? Well, let’s attempt a recap!
Prelim 6 (in order of appearance)
1) Dana Eagle: The old I may look prim and proper but I’m crazy trick. Perceptive self-reflective opening line: “Number One is good at the end of the night!” Showed her panties for laughs. It worked. Talked about the phenomenon of tattooing one’s backside. On hers it’d say: “Road blocked — go around!”
2) Rich Aronovitch: Horshack’s kid is pretty funny. But. As he even remarked, “I open with porn, I close with porn. I do Holocaust jokes in the middle.”
3) David Reinitz: He opens by telling people not to read the paper, so he’s automatically not funny in my book. Not funny! Closes by reading the side effects of ads for Zocor, Viagra. But he does accurately point out that having Southwest Airlines as the festival’s official airline sponsor is ridiculous, since Southwest doesn’t even fly to Boston.
4) DT Owens: Church and bible jokes, from a guy from Birmingham, Ala. Who knew?
5) Dale Jones: Ernest Goes to Jim Carrey Camp.
6) Shane Mauss: Is there an applause break curse? Shaner gets one on his first joke! (Kelly Mac got an applause break the night before, to no avail) I will also note that before he went up, he whispered in my ear: “So far, I’m winning.” After his very funny set, he’s right. But there still is half a show to go.
7) Chicken Towel: I didn’t catch his name when he went onstage, so Chicken Towel it is, since that was his first of SEVERAL long routines. Actually, maybe his name should be Cirque du Silly. Actually, maybe I should look up his name. Michael Rayner. And he’s turning out to be actually quite entertaining. But he went on and on and on so long, he couldn’t possibly win. Did he care? I didn’t get a chance to ask him. Someone suggested that perhaps, he just wanted the stage time to impress the real judges in the room and get some gigs.
8) Dwayne Gill: He’s a cop. Anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law and public opinion.
9) Brad Upton: I remember him from Seattle. And frightening enough, he remembers me. But why is he here? He’s a headliner. Does he need some new road gigs, too? I had a theory about white guys in suits (they don’t do well in contests, but black guys in suits do). But that’s just silly. And Upton is funny. On immigration and aliens stealing “our” jobs: he recently hired a 20-year-old foreign girl to do a job his wife wouldn’t want to do! The crowd loves him. Good for him.
10) Joey Carroll: He’s been in Iraq. So this should be smooth sailing. Until he tells a joke about Anna Nicole Smith’s son, who just died. Earlier, though, he had a winning bit about Halloween, including the one time he dressed up as the Grim Reaper and kicked in his grandma’s door. “C’mon! Let’s go!”
11) Frank Santorelli: Another longtime headliner in this contest. What gives? “Listen, I don’t need to be here tonight. I was on Star Search. I shook Ed McMahon’s hand on television. What did you do tonight?” He rips on host Jim Lauletta: “A very funny man…offstage.” Tells the crowd he is 48, but feels young by shaving his pubic hair. Ah, youth.
12) Dan Sally: Opens with all new material! Suri Cruise pictures! His newlywed wife is preggers! As they used to say on TV: “For originality, a perfect score of 30!” Closes with his tried-and-true engagement story. Good stuff.
And the results are…another three-person advancement!
Brad Upton, Shane Mauss and Frank Santorelli move on to the semis! If only they had room for four, Mr. Sally. If only they had room for four…