This is pretty much for my American readers (and those of you outside the States who have figured out how to watch clips on Hulu.com). My Hulu visits tend to be more targeted -- I know what's on there and what I want to catch up on -- rather than exploratory missions of curious wonder. That said, one of my friends tipped me off to this new addition to Hulu's online archives: Full seasons of Comedy Central's Premium Blend. Premium Blend was the bigger, louder, hyperactive precursor to Live At Gotham. Look at how the audience and claps as if they're in a Benny Hill sketch. So far, just seasons five, seven and nine are up, for 36 episodes spotlighting 144 up-and-coming stand-up comedians, some of whom have since made leaps and strides, while others have yet to become household names. It's fun to see some of the pairings here, find glimpses of people I know now but didn't back then, as well as comics I was friends with years ago.
Season 5 also is intriguing because it filmed pre-Sept. 11 but began airing Oct. 5, 2001. Remember that weird time for comedy, when society and the mainstream media asked if it was OK to be ironic and sarcastic? It's also a time that gave us early looks at Judah Friedlander, Laurie Kilmartin, Eugene Mirman and Patrice Oneal, all in one half-hour!
From Season 9, here is another lineup that's notable for putting Aziz Ansari (NBC's new Parks and Recreation) together with Boston stand-up vet Frank Santorelli, Austin's Brendon Walsh (who now sports wilder hair and stand-up), and Jo Koy. This aired in February 2006.
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…