You saw that title and perhaps said to yourself, "Where are they now? More like, who are they again?" That's because it was only a few months ago that Iliza Shlesinger was winning NBC's Last Comic Standing and Jeff Dye was finishing in third place. Maybe you watched, maybe you didn't. Well, Dye sent out this video message to his fans over the weekend to let them know how he's dealing with it all.
Tickets for the LCS tour? Check availability after the jump...
The folks at Montreal's Just For Laughs uploaded videos last week from its 2008 collection of comedians participating in the New Faces and Masters showcases, so you can finally see what I saw this summer. Rather than bombard you with two dozen embedded video clips, I'm going to embed one or two of my faves, then link to the rest.
From the 2008 Masters, here is Todd Glass, and you'll immediately wonder, what's the rest of Larry Miller's funny story introducing him, and who is Glass calling back in his jokes. Jokes, people! Jokes! Todd Glass is a comic's comic, so always welcomed here (language NSFW):
And from the 2008 New Faces, here is Sean Patton's set that got industry people talking (language NSFW):
Everyone else after the jump.
Who really won the sixth season of Last Comic Standing? Hint: It's not a trick question. First off, anyone who missed the initial broadcast on NBC last week due to football can find it replayed this week on the Fox Reality Channel (check your listings) on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Bravo on Friday. It should make it onto Hulu.com someday, too.
I caught up with the finale over the weekend. And, um, what? God's Pottery got to open the show with a special song that really was an ode to the Olympics, and that only made me think, what did they do four years ago during the last Summer Olympics? Right. That was "season three," the year they brought back the first two seasons of stand-ups and didn't air the finale on NBC. So off to a good start! (Not really) Having Joel McHale and Triumph the Insult Dog on hand to mock the finalists only served to take them down a peg, which is not exactly how you want to feel about your favorite comedian. Why is Iliza's dad clapping after they show her in a bikini? Argh. Having last year's champ, Jon Reep, also reminded us that in past years, we've actually gotten to see and hear more stand-up comedy in previous seasons. What happened this summer? Outside of Iliza Shlesinger, the only finalist to compete in elimination challenges, we barely heard from the others. When Reep won (and Josh Blue and others before them), they appeared live -- live! -- for several weeks performing stand-up to a national audience. Which means it's not a surprise who won...
Iliza Shlesinger! $250,000, a new car, development deal with NBC, slot on Jubilee show in Vegas, yes that's called a solid victory. You don't need to believe in conspiracy theories to see how she won this season, as the producers showcased her both onstage and offstage as much as possible -- and certainly more than any of the other finalists. And in a five-way vote, she had the definite advantage. Have I mentioned yet how severely odd it was to crown a champion in a five-way vote? That's how NBC and the producers wanted to roll this year, though. LCS has its first female winner, and she is only 25. Though the show hasn't turned any of its previous five winners into big stars yet, that only means that Shlesinger doesn't have a high bar of expectations to cross, and whether or not she turns this title into a huge stand-up career, her presence and voices will draw interest from NBC and other networks in creating screen roles for her.
The final five all are winners, as the rest of their 2008 is booked with a nationwide club, theater and casino tour that begins Aug. 29 and doesn't end until Jan. 31, 2009. The 62-city, 63-date tour is listed under several different names on Ticketmaster (Note to Ticketmaster: Stop that! Consolidate!), but you can find the dates here.
A surprise winner was Brit Lady, aka Fearne Cotton. Yay, Fearne! Though kept on the sidewalks in the early episodes, and then trapped in a car for Last Comic Driving, then almost disappeared entirely, she returned big-time by the finale, proving to be a more friendly and appealing host than the host himself (that was Bill Bellamy). She could be the Cat Deeley of Last Comic Standing if only the producers could figure out how to have this show hosted -- ever since Jay Mohr left, it's been a ragtag missionary position. Ahem. Not that Bellamy has been bad, but he has been more bluster than luster, more about shouting for our attention than about endearing us to him and the show. Whereas Cotton makes us care. More Brit Lady, please!
Sean Cullen. Even if his onstage songs didn't win over America, he actually was the funniest guy on the show this season, through his many asides and on-camera confessionals throughout the program. Like Doug Benson the year before him, Cullen made the most of every moment he appeared on TV, and producers loved giving him the airtime. The comic relief on a show that supposedly honors comedy. So Cullen should get some more TV offers out of this.
Marcus. Made himself known for impersonations, so much so that he tried to avoid them altogether in some of his showcase performances (including the finale!). But viewers and Playmates alike have loved his many voices, even the ones that were voices of other comedians. And the club circuit always has room for an impersonator or two, and with Frank Caliendo busy on his TBS sitcom and Darrell Hammond heading back to work on SNL, that means more gigs for Marcus!
Jeff Dye. His aw shucks demeanor and neon shirts won him many new fans over the past few months. Was it only a month ago that Dye was a New Face in Montreal (yes, yes it was, and so too, was Shlesinger, so what does that tell you!)? The nationwide LCS tour will allow him to build his fan base even more, and give him a chance to prove he deserves more stage time. Dye is only 25. Lots of potential. If Barry Katz has his way, he'll turn Dye into the next Dane Cook, or at least the next Gary Gulman. Either way, he'll be an even bigger hit on college campuses in the year to come, and likely move up to headliner status at bigger venues, too. Just like Gulman did after 2004's LCS appearances.
Louis Ramey. He finished fifth, apparently (we never heard the actual vote totals, mind you). But the veteran road comic dominated the NBC promos for the show and will get more work and better pay out of this TV exposure.
This is shaping up to be the screwiest finale in Last Comic Standing since the whodunit that ended season three's "all-star" challenge round. For one thing, will anyone in the New York City area find out who won?
NBC says the finale airs tonight from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but the NYC affiliate is airing the New York Giants preseason (preseason!) football game then, and telling viewers that LCS will air afterward, and only from 10 to 11 p.m. Where will the other half-hour go, pray tell? Seriously. What gives? And that's beside the fact that your season six winner essentially gets crowned by a toss-up call-in vote (or producer finagling, for you conspiracy theorists with a touch of reality TV cynicism) among five people. You could win a five-way vote with only 21 percent, you know. Twenty-one percent. That's telling America you're their favorite, isn't it?!
So...who will win? Let's assess.
Marcus probably is the betting favorite. He won last year's Seattle comedy competition. He does voices. Lots of voices. And people like impersonations. Even the hacky ones. You know why? Because hack works. That's why it's hack in the first place -- hack comedy is stuff that is so popular and consistently successful that other comedians say it's unworthy for achieving real laughs. But getting real laughs out of three Playboy Playmates got Marcus a free pass into this finale. And all of his voices, even Christopher Walken, make audiences smile and laugh...and vote.
Louis Ramey is a veteran road comic. NBC loved using him over and over again in promo ads to tease this season. He made a broad appeal to viewers with his pandering patriotism set in the finale. Could that work? Perhaps. Aside from Marcus, Ramey is the only American in this finale field with enough material to headline clubs and the oncoming LCS tour. He could win. Producers wouldn't mind in the slightest if he won, either.
Jim Tavare. He's British. He has a proven track record in the UK. And his shtick has survived two decades of performing. Is that enough? Guessing not.
Iliza Shlesinger. The only female in this bunch. Works a Dane Cook stage persona so effectively that even the show's producers (one of whom is Barry Katz, aka Cook's manager) have noticed the similarities. And everyone has noticed her cleavage, for better or for worse. Shlesinger obviously hopes all of those Google oogle oglers cast millions of votes for her to win. She's the only one of the five to take part in the live audience challenges this season. Odd, but true. That means viewers have seen and heard more from her than the others. She's so fresh in the stand-up game, though, and I don't think she's ready just yet to headline. Making her the winner might be too much. But no female has won LCS before.
Jeff Dye. Like Shlesinger, he is young and attractive and has a lot of fans because of it. People Google phrases such as "is Jeff Dye nice?" and "is Jeff Dye single?" Seriously. They do. And yes, he is nice. Not married. I expect many women voted for him because of this. Also an odd choice for a winner because, while he is funny and nice and has a good stage presence, he's not a headliner yet. But if NBC is looking to be a star-maker, they could be looking at Dye as a younger, fresher Dane Cook. His odds are as good as Shlesinger's.
But it's a five-person race. So, really, anyone could win. Does that make any sense, though? We'll find out tonight.
Looky looky! It's Bill Bellamy and Brit Lady (Cotton Fearne!), back together for the audience finale vote on Last Comic Standing! This doesn't look taped at all, except I know it's taped because finalist Jeff Dye is in Chattanooga, Tenn., right now performing at a comedy club...all I know for sure at this moment is that Marcus will be around for the finale next week, and that all of the top 12 will be there for one reason or another...
What's this? The Dan Band? These audience cutaways seem as if they do not fit. Or the audience has gotten more than plenty of a serving of happy juice! All of the finalists are coming up with one-liners for why they'll be the last comic standing...ooh! "I'm Ron G and I'll be the last comic standing because I make this microphone look sexy!" "I'm Adam Hunter, and I'm going to be the last comic standing because I want to prove that blondes have more fun!" "I'm Jeff Dye, I'm going to be the last comic standing because I can do 17 push-ups in an hour...believe it!" "I am Jim Tavare, and I am going to be the last comic standing because I am the new Miley Cyrus of comedy!" "I'm Marcus, and I'll be the last comic standing, because just like Jack Black, I keep things rocking! Let's go!" "I'm Iliza Shlesinger, and I'll be the last comic standing, because out of all of these guys, I'm the most experienced...winning!" "I'm Louis Ramey, and I'll be the last comic standing, because I'm huggable. Come to daddy, America!" "I'm Sean Cullen, and I'll be the last comic standing, because I've dreamed about it...since I was a little girl!" OK. This was taped. But Brit Lady is here, so I have no need to fear. Right?
No. Fear. Fear! Strange but true, this year's competition is coming down to a five-way vote. Which means this year's Last Comic Standing will win based on at least 21 percent of America's phone and online voting tendencies...congratulations, comedy!
Marcus, guaranteed a spot in the final five, goes first. He reveals that he worked at a radio station for two years for no pay (!) and that the local club in Utah, Wiseguys, eventually asked him to come down and perform after hearing all of his impersonations and whatnots. His "live" set focuses on the things you can and cannot bring on a plane (you can bring a wrench!), the lyrical stylings of Eddie Vedder, Aaron Neville's multiple syllables, Motown nostalgia, and versus new songs, such as "lady humps." It's very engaging for the crowd in Las Vegas, with broad appeal to whomever may be watching at home. Do you like music? Any kind of music? This set is for you. He gets a standing ovation. Will everyone this night?
Next up, Ron G, who goes home again. Onstage, he has a vest and a tie, so you know he's serious about this night. How are you supposed to be a thug with a retainer in your mouth? Um, I don't know. Church isn't the same with a Bluetooth in Hollywood. Love the graphics reminding me not to change the channel and stick around to vote. He has a series of jokes about the various commercials you may see on late-night television. But Ron G has been eliminated from the competition. Dunzo! He tells Brit Lady he appreciates the chance and the fans.
Last Comic Driving? Remember that? You don't? Oh, here was a very very very quick reminder. Hope you didn't fast forward through it.
Brit Lady gets more hosting duties, yay! Here comes Jim Tavare, with double references for you audience members (The Hills Are Alive, or Uncle Fester, you pick). He calls for a rescue dog. One-liners aplenty. What's wrong with his Hendrix impersonation? But can he play the bass? Brit Lady delivers the news...and...he's in the top five! Hooray for the U.K., Brit Lady!
Oh, Brit Lady is hosting so we can have Bill Bellamy do stand-up...he jokes about visiting Idaho and being in the outdoors...cut to white people having fun...phew. That's over.
But now we get an extended preview of an upcoming NBC competition...America's Toughest Jobs. It's not supposed to be comedy, so stop laughing.
Louis Ramey gets the childhood photo treatment next, and Ramey does a pretend version of running around on the New York City club circuit for the cameras makey nicey. The Amish pay in cheese? His jacket looks like it fits better this week. He jokes about Amish gangs. Also about Houma, Louisiana. And a twist on a terrorist alert joke. A big redneck twist. And he's still in it to win it!
Adam Hunter wrestled in high school. This news does not surprise me. He attacks the stage and looks like a scrapper. No, that's a good thing. Right? Jokes about San Francisco, cocaine, pot, rappers, George Bush Speak N Spell, Obama is black, McCain is old, more drugs, sex, strip clubs. All over the place. He is a New York guy doing Los Angeles comedy. Does that make sense to anyone? He has been eliminated. The crowd boos.
Jeff Dye. They show lots of clips from Seattle, so that gets my vote. Gives a shout-out to his parents, then proceeds to joke about them. Before and afterward, he delivers the set he gave earlier this month at Montreal New Faces. Pan out to show the audience clapping enthusiastically. We're thinking he goes through...and...he did!
Cullen goes back to Toronto, where they love him already. Wow. Did you see some of those flashback stage shots. Did he have long curly hair at one point? We believe he did. He threatens to spin into the crowd with his pinwheels and fists of death. Jokes about Sean Connery and his amazing ability with accents. Why Australia can never have a James Bond villain. Why Neil Young and REM won't do Bond theme songs, which lets him sing some more.
Shlesinger, too, goes home again. She jokes about her Olympic experience being limited to Beer Pong. She wears a tight red shirt, which explains the pervy Google searches already heading this way (calm down, people). Why did you send that 40-page blank fax, again? Jokes about former co-workers. Iliza isn't as energetic as usual in this performance, slowing things down just a bit. A poised, confident five minutes.
And the final spot goes to...Iliza Shlesinger! Which means your final five for season six are: Marcus, Jim Tavare, Louis Ramey, Jeff Dye and Iliza Shlesinger. Would it have turned out this way with additional weeks of challenges? We'll never find out. Nor will we get to see the final five whittle down, one by one. Instead, come back next week and find out who won.
The people at Just For Laughs in Montreal decided to recap some of their shows in video highlights, which means you can get a feel for what you saw, or what you missed. Although they don't give all of the New Faces face time (hmmm), but the Just For Laughs video portal (yes, they have their own video portal for you to upload your own funny fun-time videos) includes a highlight reel set to music and with more Galas and French Canadians than any other JFL video. So let's start with that one, with the New Faces, Amp'd and Masters after the jump!
We're down to the final 8 comedians on season six of Last Comic Standing, and already, we're being promised a conclusion that lets us vote -- plus hints that the vote moves people into "the final" -- so will we speed up to the finish in time for the Summer Olympics? Perhaps.
Everyone still in the house is talking about Iliza Shlesinger, who has taken out four other comedians already, and wondering if they should not challenge her ever. Nice strategy, fellas.
Another pointless sight gag challenge that has no consequences?! That's right. Our comedians go to a sushi house and have to perform jokes for four tables: Female bodybuilders, Deal or No Deal models, frat boys and little people. Adam Hunter's energy easily gets the Suitcase Sorority giggling, while Ron G is distracted by the ladies (theme alert!). Marcus resorts to his Christopher Walken, again. This is pointless. Let's get to the real challenge, already. The comics return to the house to find breast implant helpers (cutlets!) on their pillows. Whatever could it be? We know, because they've teased us with the Playboy Mansion! Lots of bouncy bouncy! Our comedians pick titles, then have to come up with bedtime stories for The Girls Next Door, aka Hef's girlfriends, aka the Hugh Hefner Playboy Playmates with a TV show on E!
First up: Ron G, with "Jack and the Bean Stalker." Ron cannot stop looking at Kendra, and this gets him off track multiple times, but he recovers by ad-libbing a rhyme about Hef and the Bunnies. When he leaves, we learn that they liked him. Not so much for Adam Hunter, who really tried to come up with a story for "I'm The Same Age as My New Mommy." Know your audience. "Hit that, Adam," joked Mr. Sean Cullen. Iliza Shlesinger, with "The Pirate, The T. Rex, and Grandma," may have had the toughest sales job as the only female stand-up left, but the Bunnies compliment her before she even begins. Her story has the three titular characters (that's not a play on words, people!) as competing Playmates. Could she win immunity?! Louis Ramey had to tell, "The Princess Who Had to Pee," which isn't quite how his fantasy started, and yet, the Bunnies are in suspense. They think it's an actual bedtime story. "Dragons Just Don't Understand," by Sean Cullen, is a fanciful tale with big words, and Bunnies just don't understand. "It might have been that I smelled of rotten squash," he quips afterward.
Last Comic Driving, still!?!? It's my only chance to see my dear Brit Lady Cotton Fearne, and Ben Morrison is getting in the way by telling jokes from the passenger seat involving text messaging.
Marcus has "All Dogs Go to Heaven, but Grandpa Didn't," and it's told via Morgan Freeman, Adam Sandler, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, and of course, Christopher Walken. "I'm going to bring in the voices," he says. "It's going to be the thunder." Playmates don't know no hack, don't you know. Jim Tavare, with "Pretty People Always Get Their Way," takes the ladies back in time. He got them with his closing line, though. Jeff Dye gets to tell them "Daddy Loves Mommy, Mommy Loves Lattes," and gives Bridget several nicknames, which they like. Dye has his feet on the bed. They remember the Brizzle My Nizzle line, which I think they came up with themselves. And that's why the Playmates chose to award immunity to...Marcus! He brought the thunder.
"For the rest of you, it's just not that easy," host Bill Bellamy intones. Uh-oh. The other seven all will perform for America's votes. What does this mean, exactly? Everyone not named Marcus is anxious and nervous and other words that mean those emotions. So they prepare a Last Comic Standing Last Supper, and there's a montage of those left behind.
On the bus ride, Shlesinger says she's doing some brand-new jokes tonight, "which is always a bad idea," Ramey replies (off the bus). Hair and makeup, people! Producers try to build up the tension level with all sorts of little scenes and whatnots before we get to the actual show. Adam Hunter is up first, and he's so broke he is combining his foods. Hunter's stage presence is a bit frantic, but perhaps that's because he is trying to get so many premises across in a short set. Shlesinger remains committed to telling new jokes, and she goes after how women relate to each other, and does a few big act-outs. Next: Sean Cullen in a suit. Singing. To support the farmers? An appeal to the heartland voters out there? He's silly enough that it might work. Jim Tavare brings his tux and his double bass back to the stage. Wait. Bellamy just said "next week's final," so this means we're speeding to the finish, alrighty! Congrats to Marcus for getting a speed pass. But back to Tavare. Quick and clever one-liners. Tavare balances on his instrument, so to speak, to win you over. Did it work? Jeff Dye chose a bright orange shirt for the evening, so at least you'll remember him. He jokes about how childhood favorite movies might not hold up when you watch them again as adults, such as The Sound of Music? He acts out a homeless guy reciting his favorite things. Maybe Super Mario is homeless, too. Just ask Dye to tell you why. Ron G wishes Marcus was in this contest, but Ron G has to go onstage now instead, and he wants to know where the single people are at, and why they're not leaving MySpace comments or missed calls on the phone. He keeps mugging as Bellamy recites the voting details. One more performance, and it's Louis Ramey, who jokes about the book, "The Female Orgasm," (men don't need a book), and other sex tips, such as adding food to the proceedings. If a man wants to cover you in honey and lick it all? "That's a man that's never done it before." His set on sex is just edgy enough for primetime TV without being bleeped. So...how many people get to make it to the finals? Tell us! Tell us! Next week is the final performance show, so get to it, people.
UPDATED: Here is NBC's two-minute recap for you. If you cannot watch Hulu (I see you, Canadians!), then watch it here.
Too late to vote now, sorry!
You can vote up to 10 times per person on NBC.com, or call one of these limited-time-only numbers to support your favorite... Adam Hunter: 1-877-FUNNY-01 Iliza Shlesinger: 1-877-FUNNY-02 Sean Cullen: 1-877-FUNNY-03 Jim Tavare: 1-877-FUNNY-04 Jeff Dye: 1-877-FUNNY-05 Ron G: 1-877-FUNNY-06 Louis Ramey: 1-877-FUNNY-07
Getting in the mood for tonight's new episode of Last Comic Standing, let's relive the fun of last week's episode (especially since three of the final 10 comedians and myself were in Montreal at the time)...so, let the foolishness begin!
Iliza Shlesinger returns triumphant from her showdown with Ku and God's Pottery, and gets kudos from Marcus "she just owned that stage" and deserved to win, while Paul Foot and Papa CJ think she's vulnerable (foreshadowing a spoiler alert!!!). Oh, you crazy editors.
Comic Car Wash? I certainly hope this is as productive as the calendar shoot was...and can I hit the fast-forward button yet?...wait, what happened that put Jim Tavare on crutches? Now that would be interesting on camera...no? This is some morbid variation on that whole Last Comic Driving scam, because our comedians are telling jokes to the car wash participants for tips, or something, and whomever gets the biggest tips wins something or other? Cue the everyone gets wet montage. Is it wrong for me to be staring? Ad break!
Comedians get a barrel of carrots and overthink the challenge, because, yes, it's Carrot Top! They head to a Bed, Bath and Beyond and get "mad props" -- racing around the store to find props and whomever does them thar prop comedy the best wins immunity. "This is kind of funny that I'm teaching you!" Carrot Top tells the finalists. Well said, sir. Well said. So The Top Propster trots out some examples to share with the wannabes. George Bush's "decision master" is a tank on a map. Bobby Brown's new book is powdered. Get it? Got it? Good. Now run through the store. You figure it out. Ron G. suddenly has a mohawk...is that his prop? And it's showtime for our judge, Sir Top Carrot of Muscle Mania Man, and a live audience (and where from whence did they come?). "Where did they get these people," Sean Cullen asks. "Well, I guess they live here."
Up first, Louis Ramey. Sushi at night? Better luck with a light bulb affixed to the bottom of a pot thing, and with the shower curtain postcards. Then Marcus, who you'd think would do something, like when unicorns need braces? Lifetime's version of Iron Man? A Tommy Lee jokes gets a thumb's up and a smile from Carrot Muscles. Ron G., however, has jokes but not so much with the props. "This is not what I do," Ron G. acknowledges to the cameras. Papa CJ reimagines flashing headlights, so to speak, and does not know props, or how to make people laugh. Sean Cullen? Well, he tried, at least.
Last Comic Driving is still going?!?!? Ah, Brit lady. I miss you so. Tom Clark is in the hot seat. Wow, that was quick. Moving on...
Adam Hunter gets his chance, goes after Tom Cruise, Flavor Flav, O.J. Simpson, Paris Hilton. Um. OK. Jim Tavare opens with wordplay. Carrot Top said he was "clever." Iliza Shlesinger shows us Khloe Kardashian's foot corn pads, a mouse saddle she made, and, well, here's Paul Foot to dazzle us. Or not. I don't know what's going on here, and I don't think he did, either. Jeff Dye gets to close, it seemed, and goes for quick movie re-enactments which seem to work well with the live audience. And Big Red awards immunity to...Jeff Dye for his originality! Big Red knows enough to mock himself.
Back at the house, Ramey notices that the young comics are more insecure and therefore more likely to lash out at one another. Like, say, for instance, Foot throwing a nerf gun off of the balcony, perhaps? That won't win him any votes, unless he wants to get voted for elimination. Ramey predicts that the showdown will come down to Foot, CJ and Shlesinger, with Shlesinger prevailing again. Anyone want to bet against that? In the cemetery, host Bill Bellamy got outfitted in crazy again. Suddenly, Tavare is off crutches again. The votes are in...Ramey, CJ, Foot, Hunter, Tavare, Foot, Ramey, CJ, Foot, CJ...so Paul Foot and Papa CJ each get three votes, and they bring Shlesinger into the ring with them. Good luck with that, fellas.
Shlesinger says she'll use her Los Angeles residency to her advantage, while the boys backstage think it's going to get messy. Foot goes first. Puts awkward foot forward, trying to explain how he doesn't like early to bed, early to rise people. Eventually gets applause. Nervous giggles. Man, he's making me nervous with the pacing and the stammering and the looking at his watch. Shlesinger goes second. Reminds the audience what it was like to play high school sports, joking about the coaches. More nostalgia: You guys remember the game Oregon Trail? Yay, audience says. Other things and movements. Gets applause from the boys in the back. CJ goes last. Seems unfazed about it, and his opening joke about "L.A. being the most beautiful part of Mexico" gets a good reaction. Doesn't like "random" selection for airport searches. Again with the deliberate pointing at a front-row guy for no reason whatsoever. Don't mess with Indians, he threatens. He fails miserably with an Iraqi joke. Tries recovering with that old Hindu reincarnation joke, plus going back to the guy in the audience who wasn't asking for it. Ugh. Even the boys know CJ did the same jokes he did in Vegas. And the audience votes for...Iliza Shlesinger, with 62 percent of the vote! Bye bye, Paul Foot and Papa CJ.
The rest of you kids, I'll see you back here tonight with a new LCS recap!
It's time for one last look around the 2008 Montreal Just For Laughs festival, which Variety reports raked in $10 million (which is about the same in Canadian as it is in U.S. dollars these days!) this July. Which means this final recap must begin with the guy who buzzed about the festival...
Doug Stanhope, who set up his Slamdance to their Sundance, aka Just For Spite festival with shows Friday and Saturday at Club Chaos, told me on Saturday night that he'd been offered a paltry $1,100 to perform 10 nights of one-man shows at the fest (or as he added, less than what he earned during his first trip to Montreal's JFL), which prompted his fury. Much of the buzz about Stanhope during the fest itself centered around two incidents, both of which Stanhope wrote about online. He first aired his grievances on Wednesday via 236.com, then on Friday night, after getting kicked out of a JFL venue by fest organizer Bruce Hills, Stanhope went to his MySpace to fill us in on the details.
Most pleasant surprise in a one-man show: Patrice Oneal. Here's a guy who seems so in your face and so not safe for work that, well, that's how his career even began in Boston, challenging another comedian. And he has made his name on the club circuit as that guy who won't take no gruff. But you take him out of the comedy clubs and put him in an intimate theater setting, give him a stool or a chair and just let him speak...wow. As I noted earlier, his one-man show, Positivity, is positively brilliant. He may think he's not getting any smarter. But this show is the smartest thing he has done.
The lucky New Faces bump? Last year, Tom Papa hosted all of the New Faces showcases and handled himself with such professionalism and managed to bring the funny, that I recall singling him out and hoping he'd get a show of his own. This year, Papa got the special one-man showcase named after the late Richard Jeni and earned nightly standing ovations for his show, Only Human. Here's the Montreal Gazette review to chew on. I saw similar magic coming from Greg Giraldo this year in hosting New Faces, and hope he gets a similar promotion in 2009. Giraldo always has mastered the art of topical social commentary, but there also has been so much going on in his world, both professionally and personally, that could be mined for a one-man show. Let's make that happen.
Funniest comic-on-comic impersonation: Greg Behrendt, who introduced himself to the audience as "a 45-year-old alternative comic," doing Russell Brand at the midnight Alternative showcase, slinking his way around the stage and joking about Brand having sex with Kate Moss.
Toughest ticket for a show I wished I'd seen: They say you mock the ones you love (some do), so Behrendt must have been paying tribute to Russell Brand's status as the hot comic of the moment. You had to sweet talk your way into his sold-out performances. Thankfully, I got to see Brand a couple of days later in New York City (my review of Russell Brand).
Toughest ticket for a show I'm not sorry I missed: Apatow For Destruction. Movie producers and movie stars should not always be confused for great stand-up comedians.
How young is he, again? Bo Burnham, at 17, is the new sensation, already signed to Gersh with a Comedy Central EP that zoomed up the iTunes charts. Where did he come from? Outside of Boston, since you asked. He generated some "heat" as they say in the bidness. I saw him the previous weekend open up for Joel McHale at Carolines and deliver an amazingly proficient and efficient 13-minute musical set of songs and rap. How did this tall, scrawny high-school kid making YouTube videos gain so much poise onstage with less than 20 live performances to his credit? He told me. "I'm young, dumb and fearless." Here's a recent fairly NSFW video from Bo fo yo (argh, I just really typed that and didn't backspace backspace delete, didn't I?):
State of the Industry vs. Comedy Person of the Year: Andy Kindler wins in a walk-off, as Kindler filled the room to more than capacity, with people standing in the foyer, then half of them walking out to skip the festival's awarding of "Comedy Person of the Year" to Judd Apatow. Having Apatow did guarantee that all his famous friends and industry associates would show up in Montreal, though, leading to some heartfelt words from Apatow himself, and a funny quip from Seth Rogen: "Look at us. We're a parade of bad fashion...It's like we're at the rehearsal for the award."
Just Comedy? Remember the days when you didn't have to pay $500 to attend a festival thrown on your behalf? Oh, those were days. But Just Comedy's two-day confab proved to be kind of eh. As I joked to Andy Kindler in our short video interview, I only stayed at the Webisode to Episode panel for about five minutes, because that's as long as that panel should have been. Don't they know this already? Because of that, I missed out on perhaps the liveliest panel of the confab, as club owners kvetched at length about the business of live touring.
All-around favorites: You couldn't go anywhere in Montreal without someone reminding you how great John Mulaney and Brent Weinbach were at the festival. I shall sing Mulaney's praises to anyone who asks, and it was great to see him knock it out of the park (that's a baseball term) at JFL, with people especially rapt over his tale of playing a joke on a restaurant at age 11. Mind you, he's only 25 now. He will tape a Comedy Central Presents next month and you will enjoy it. He's also co-headlining at Comix next month (Aug. 22-23) with Nick Kroll. As for Weinbach, he won the Andy Kaufman Award in Vegas last year for a reason, and showed why in Montreal with an over-the-top performance at the alternative showcases.
New Faces recaps: My favorites or yours? Brendon Walsh stood out for me with his cleverness, while Sean Patton surprised me because I had never seen him in a mainstream club before. Harris Wittels delivered the ballsiest set, ending a routine that included misnamed bands and masturbation issues with a joke about racism. Ira Proctor turned it around so much from the first set to the second that veteran Larry Miller couldn't stop complimenting him. Mo Mandel was the singular standout from the other group. Although truth be told, most people I talked to from the industry were relatively underwhelmed by this year's crop of New Faces as a whole. Then again, they were relatively underwhelmed in general.
State of the New Faces Industry: What does it say about the comedy industry and Montreal's New Faces that two of them, Iliza Shlesinger and Jeff Dye, are among the finalists for this season on NBC's Last Comic Standing? A few things. Among them: The NBC producers prefer fresh-faced comedians, even if they're relatively inexperienced, because it allows them to have control (read: earn money) by launching their careers nationally. Also, it means tough luck for industry wanting a piece, as NBC and the producers have them under its contractual spell already. Anyone want to guess whether Shlesinger and Dye already are locked up for the nationwide club/theater tour that follows the season finale?
The Masters: Speaking of Larry Miller, what a class act he proved to be in Montreal, not just for actually watching younger comedians and saying nice things to them, but also for being the consummate host for the Masters showcases. Miller has been one of the more amusing voices of reason on Bill Maher's HBO chat show, Real Time, and it's so nice to be able to see Miller onstage again doing stand-up. As he told audiences, "Almost everyone on the show is someone I've known for years and respect -- and they're all good." Well, I'll be the judge of that. Henry Cho, a Korean raised in Tennesee, "so I'm South Korean." If you didn't enjoy Esther Ku's jokes about getting Koreans confused for each other, what would you make of this master's trip to the homeland with his father: "When we went to Korea, he walked 20 feet away and I lost him!" Hal Sparks continues to sport his Criss Angel hair and magician look, despite how it looks. It looks like Criss Angel. Instead, Sparks ranted against people who miss his short hair, talked about losing his Kentucky accent, and did a big act-out about sexually peaking. Cathy Ladman hates her New York voice, and Montreal audiences weren't exactly thrilled with it, either. Another trip to the therapist and everything will be OK. Henry Phillips and his guitar? Well, here's a little number you may have heard before, "Sweet Little Blossom of Mine." Todd Glass: I hadn't seen him live in four years, and man, how I missed seeing his energetic self. Glass is a guy who's always on, even when he's not on he's on. What a bundle of fun! Remember when Glass was on Last Comic Standing and kept mugging for everyone at everytime...good times. At the Masters, Glass riffed on both Sparks and Phillips and then himself, and destroyed with a bit about how easy recipes are, such as corn pudding! Meantime, here's an oldie but a goodie from Glass. Thea Vidale and I sat next to each other on the "regional jet" up from New York City, and regional jet means really small plane, which means I actually should have and could have used the phrase, "C'mon and sit on Daddy's lap!" And Billy Gardell closed by focusing on how kids have changed and how we've all changed because of anti-depressants, with a presence that shows you what a veteran stand-up headliner's set is all about.
Shuttle buddies: Don't know how it worked out like this, because we didn't see other during the fest and came from different cities, but Kent from Ask A Ninja and I ended up on the same shuttles to and from the airport in Montreal. Serendipity?
But what about next year: What about 2009? As noted or hinted at previously, several industry folks grumbled openly about wondering why they'd come to Montreal again in the first place. The festival certainly didn't dispel stereotypes about the friendliness of French Canadians, as they tried every manner in the book to get industry up to Montreal -- including their annual withholding of the New Faces and Masters names until two days before most would arrive, adding this two-day Just Comedy confab and charging industry $500 to show up -- then giving industry folks multiple hassles once they made it to Montreal. And that's not to mention the outrageous prices in the Hyatt Regency ($3 for a Coca-Cola, $10 for a bottle of beer), the attitude of the Hyatt toward the industry (even though the festival encouraged them to stay in the Hyatt) and the fact that some Hyatt workers were picketing outside made for a big barrel of not-fun. Stanhope wasn't the only one to openly ask if Montreal has become more about making a profit off of comedy fans and less about being a place for discovering and launching comedy careers. So what will happen in 2009 when JFL joins up with TBS to host a comedy festival in Chicago the month before Montreal? Will the industry go to Chicago and skip Montreal entirely? It only served to make me miss the atmosphere in Aspen, a festival run by people who really wanted it to be a home for the comedy industry (even if it proved too expensive and snowy). It also makes me want to start up my own comedy festival, a true showcase to bring industry to the talents worth watching, both new and old. If anyone wants to help me make that come true, please holler my way. Thanks.
Is it possible for the host of New Faces to bomb? If your name is Dana Gould and the show in question happened Saturday night, then yes, very much so. Word on the street had it that both groups of New Faces felt more at ease in their second go-arounds at Montreal, not only because fewer industry types would be lurking around, but also because the performers would have shaken off rust, nerves and any material that might not translate to a very mainstream Canadian comedy club audience. None of that explains what happened to Gould, however, who didn't connect with the audience in the first minute, and about 10 minutes later, really didn't have them on his side. Even Gould knew it. "Wow! I have to get out of this hole now," he said aloud.
This certainly helped Mo Mandel, who went up first and killed, particularly with an applause line following his bit on people who do yoga and other healthy things, wondering, "If you're unhappy, why are you trying to live longer?!" His Jew jokes also got big laughs. When I saw Mandel on my small computer screen earlier this year and last, I thought, eh. But live, I could see how he had won last year's Comedy Central Open Mic Fights.
Tougher to figure out Chuck Watkins. What is that accent? What's with all of the tai-chi stage movements? He employed a second microphone to play multiple instruments, and it was more cute than anything, although I got distracted the moment I heard him deliver this joke: "My teacher asked me for a declarative command. I said, 'Go f#$& yourself.'" I liked the joke a lot better two years ago when Dan Boulger said it and used a rhetorical question as the set-up.
Malik S. from Miami appeared to graduate from the D.L. Hughley school of smooth-talking comedy in a vest and tie, and like me, he could not be a thug because he's ticklish. Good point. He also proved that it's always possible to find work, no matter who you are, and closed the way you'd end your day at work.
Last Comic Standing finalist Jeff Dye opened with the work-out routine that got him into the TV house from Las Vegas, then closed with a bit about how the board game Guess Who teaches kids racism.
Vanessa Fraction got all worked up describing the time her son lathered up in her KY jelly, and now she's just looking for a guy with "at least." I know that much, at least.
Nate Bargatze used his Nashville twang to good effect, asking the crowd, "Do y'all have evolution here in Canada?" He talked about how if humans and monkeys are 98 percent alike, that makes his favorite 2 percent "the non-monkey parts," and wondered about the effectiveness of cancer-sniffing dogs.
Jamie Kilstein's joke about John McCain's war experience makes so much sense I cannot believe the Democrats haven't been using it every day.
If you're looking to cast a gay man from Winnipeg, then Trevor Boris is your guy.
Kenny Johnson's routine included several characters, suggesting he was letting the industry know that he is available for your sketch or sitcom needs.
Readers looking for a recap of tonight's episode of Last Comic Standing? Good news and bad news, I have for you. Well, maybe just good news. I won't be able to give you my full recap until I return from the Just For Laughs fest on Sunday, but as you can see in this picture, I fully believe and expect LCS finalist Jeff Dye (sporting the fest's mascot on his shoulder) to help fill me and you in on what we missed tonight.
It's the second week of the 2008 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, which means we finally learn the identities of this year's crop of New Faces and Masters to perform later this week. Much more to come, as I'll be reporting from Montreal starting on Wednesday. For now, though, let's deliver some names and congrats to all! Links available via the JFL MySpace blog post.
New Faces Montreal, 2008: Brendon Walsh, Tu Rae, Ira Proctor, Seaton Smith, Chuck Watkins, Sean Patton, Vanessa Fraction, Erik Griffin, Mo Mandel, Harris Wittels, Mike Palascak, Iliza Shlesinger, Jeff Dye, Kenny Johnson, Chelsea Peretti, Anjelah Johnson, Trevor Boris, Jamie Kilstein, Nate Bargatze, Malik Sanon.
Masters Montreal, 2008: Billy Gardell, Todd Glass, Thea Vidale, Henry Phillips, Hal Sparks, Kevin Brennan, Henry Cho.
So here we are. These are your 12 finalists, and after watching that hourlong recap from last week, we're only reminded of a few good stand-ups who got left behind. Let us not mourn for them, but celebrate them, for they will not have to suffer the indignities of Last Comic Standing's house nor its challenges, nor the little yellow bus.
First off, the house is nice. God's Pottery acts as if they have "dibsies" on the girlie pink room with princess outfits and bunk beds, but eventually are seen unpacking in another room.
But wait, let's talk about Esther Ku's laugh, shall we? Spoiler alert: It's all real. Ku laughs a lot, and laughs loudly. Some comedians over the years have accused her of laughing insincerely, but oh no, my friends, it is sincere...sincerely overpowering. Iliza Shlesinger describes it as "operatic, forceful and when it's this close to your ear, we're talking sonic boom potential" ...Paul Foot calls it..."a machine gun of joy."
We've got a calendar shoot. A wonderfully goofy calendar photo shoot. Marcus as Wonder Woman with smeared make-up and a Bobcat Goldthwait vibe declares: "Don't laugh at me, I'm beautiful!" Sean Cullen has a "superhero medieval hermaphrodite ballerina queen" thing going on. Jeff Dye is the youngest, so he puts on the baby outfit. Ron G says he automatically looked for a pimp get-up. Adam Hunter is a hippie? Shlesinger says she wanted the baby outfit but couldn't because they'd have to blur her breasts. Louis Ramey brings the bling. Papa CJ's outfit is fairly lame. God's Pottery lucked out (or did they?) with the God and Devil looks. Jim Tavare blows his top (well, his wig). Ku is Uncle Sam as a girl? I don't see that. Paul Foot is, I don't know what he is supposed to be.
Tonight's show promises the Last Comic Standing "All-Time Best Jokes Countdown"...Dat Phan makes the Top 10??!?!?!?!? Are. You. Kidding. Me.
They wake up the next morning to find glasses with egg yolks in them. A clue, perhaps? Another opportunity to play dress up, and a chance for us to hear Survivor's Eye of the Tiger as the comedians get into boxing outfits for Last Comic Smackdown.
But #9 on our "all-time best"? Todd Glass with a bit about how bold some people must be to wear awful toupees. #8 goes to John Heffron with his bit about the junk drawer scissors that Mom uses to cut your hair when you're a kid, which means we get to hear the word "dingleberry" on TV again. Hooray.
Our judges for the Yo Momma smackdown are Jamie Kennedy and sportscaster Rich Eisen. Bill Bellamy is sporting a clip-on bow-tie. We begin with a "speed round" in which only four comics will advance? Alrighty, Louis Ramey vs. Jeff Dye. One minute for each comic to get in as many jokes as possible. They make it look as though Ramey scores early, Dye hits back late. But before judging, it's on to God's Pottery vs. Ron G. Oh boy. God's Pottery is going to be up for this challenge with the anti-Yo Momma jokes strategy, playing into their "Christian" ethic. They have Ron G off his guard. The look on his face is precious. Even his eyes are sighing. Marcus vs. Adam Hunter. Jim Tavare vs. Iliza Shlesinger. Paul Foot vs. Papa CJ. Esther Ku vs. Sean Cullen. They show Eisen really enjoying Cullen's joke of how Korean Ku's mom is, describing her body as both North and South Korea. The judging: Kennedy is claiming a few comics were telling really old Yo Momma jokes. Your four finalists in the challenge? First a commercial.
And another installment of Last Comic Driving, with Brit Lady Fearne Cotton "driving" contestant Stevie D. (btw, if you saw the repeat earlier this evening, they completely cut Brit Lady out of the picture for time, so boo, and oh, yeah, Stevie D. made some jokey jokes about long hair, but couldn't really hold my attention, did he hold yours?)
Grandma Lee from season 2 has the #7 joke? If it was so good, how come she didn't make it into the house, producers?
Your finalists in this challenge will be: Adam Hunter, God's Pottery, Jim Tavare and Sean Cullen. Oooh. This round is "you're such a hack" jokes! Hunter says fighting God's Pottery is like fighting Borat, and Borat, er, God's Pottery makes it to the finals. Cullen vs. Tavare. Tavare references Carrot Top! So it's God's Pottery vs. Tavare in the Main Event.
#6 "all-time best" features Doug Benson's joke about being "inconvenienced" on his way to a convenience store by a guy asking if Benson was going to Hell. Yay!
The Main Event is anything goes, but make it funny. Will God's Pottery succumb to temptation? What do you think. The winner of immunity is Jim Tavare.
Back at the house, Tavare makes dinner and Foot runs around like he's Rowan Atkinson, and he might look like the Mr. Bean man, but he's just not the same. Plus acting like Bean isn't going to win you any friends in this house. We get a peek at a graveyard set where the comedians will make their showdown nominations.
And we're back to Ku's laughter, suggesting she'll come up for votes. Marcus does a Christopher Walken impersonation to describe Ku's laugh "as a tsunami of pure evil." Well, the fog machine at the cemetery is working, and Iliza can hear them playing a "Thriller" medley because she's the only one doing the dance. Bellamy brings up how comedians "kill" and "die" onstage, "so we thought it would be a great idea" to hold elimination votes in a cemetery! Get it? Three people get voted into a live audience showdown, and the audience picks the winner, leaving the other two comedians to hit the road.
#5 on the "all-time best" LCS joke list goes to Roz from season 4, who has a retort when her boss asks her why she's always late to work: "Because it makes the day go quicker!" Oh, that Roz. She has issues!
The votes pile up for Ku! So she gets to pick her two opponents. Ku picks God's Pottery and Iliza Shlesinger. Ramey is shocked! Shocked! Rut-RO! We could have both of the ladies going home in the first episode...really...Ku says she didn't like how Shlesinger went after her laugh. And in the tease, we see that Ku's set is the one I had on my site two months earlier, and that the winner of this three-way (er, make that three-act, four-way) got 68 percent of the vote.
Dwayne Perkins from season 5 gets #4 on the "all-time best" LCS joke parade. Wait. He didn't make it in the house either? What gives, producers! Are you trying to make up for past transgressions here or something? Lavell Crawford, runner-up on season 5, jokes about being fat and breathing hard, and that gets him the third "all-time best" LCS joke.
Shlesinger oozes confidence in her backstage interviews with producers. This is a really interesting showdown, and Ramey points out that you should not underestimate Ku because the audience votes on who they like as much as who has the best jokes. Plus, you've got an audience deciding between two attractive but less experienced female stand-ups and a Christian acoustic parody act. I could not predict how they would vote. Yikes. The other finalists get to watch on a monitor. As mentioned previously, we've already seen Ku's showdown performance. It gets a mixture of big laughs and weird groan laughs, as audience members try to figure out if they can laugh at some of her jokes. Her Taco Bell joke doesn't quite work and closing on M*A*S*H, eh. Even the other finalists are not sure what to make of her chances. But more commercials before we see Ku's competition. Plus, we still have the top two LCS jokes of "all time" to discover, again. God's Pottery beckons, "if you put on your partici-pants, put them on!" The audience claps instinctively and immediately. I really would have loved to see God's Pottery take on Papa CJ. Maybe we'll get to see that because the audience is singing along. Another good sign for Team Jesus.
Season 4 winner Josh Blue gets the second-best joke by blaming his Republican vote on his palsy arm.
Shlesinger says she has deer legs, and it's still somewhat sexy. Her ditzy girl voice comes out. They like her dinosaur getting hit by a rock look, and I gotta tell you, it's a good look. But I wouldn't hit Iliza with a rock. Not unless she threw one at me first. Even then, probably not. I'm a writer, not a fighter. The nine boys in the back of the room back home think Shlesinger nailed it. What did you think? With the fewest number of votes, first one out is God's Pottery! Oh, no! It's for the best, fellas. Who crushed it? Iliza Shlesinger, that's who! She did nail it. Sorry, Ku. The rest of the final 10 appear onstage, and Bellamy tries to call them "the funniest 10 folks in the country," which isn't even geographically correct, let alone anywhere near to the truth, and even the finalists know that. Shlesinger obviously made a statement to the remaining guys. Next week, we'll get to see Carrot Top! I think Shlesinger will be safe for the next week, at least, because who wants to face her after that trouncing? Papa CJ and Paul Foot, however, may need to watch their steps. Ron G seems a little unsure of himself, too. Jeff Dye, of course, is the kid. What I'm saying is Ramey and Marcus seem like tough competition, Tavare is a wildcard, and Hunter and Cullen could go either way. And If the producers want to give me a hint, that'd be cool, too.
Oh, and speaking of which, the producers picked season 5 winner Jon Reep as having the best joke ever on LCS with a punchline about the redneck version of red, white and blue.
Welcome to the first half of the semifinals in Las Vegas, the night when Dan Naturman gets the shaft for a second time on Last Comic Standing -- spoiler alert!!! -- where we see if Bill Bellamy tell jokes, and because he has had a career as an MTV VJ, parts in big crappy movies, and tours the nation as a stand-up, you'd expect him to, so he does tell jokes for at least a tight minute before introducing our judges, who are, wait for it, Richard Belzer and Steve Schirripa, aka the guys in New York City who hated a lot of great comedians. Great. Just great. We know we're in Vegas because of the showgirls who perform at the Paris casino/hotel. OK. Enough already. We're going from 16 semifinalists to five finalists. Same thing next week. So here we go!
Adam Hunter from New York stretches a lot backstage. The producers evidently want us to see that. He says: "I know for a fact I will make everyone laugh." Hunter is rather loud. Is this because he wants to make sure everyone in the theater hears him? Makes a dig at Asians in porn, followed by Mardi Gras in the Middle East. Jokes about living in L.A., where even the homeless are in the biz. As Schrippa notes, even though some jokes don't hit, Hunter gets a lot of jokes out in his short time. But they show him getting a partial standing ovation from the audience and kind words from the judges. So that's all you need to know for now.
Phil Palisoul from Denver. He makes a bidet joke, but not the one you're thinking of. Notes how people would never act the way they do walking as they do when they drive. But. No standing O shown. No words from the judges heard. Uh-oh.
Jeff Dye from Seattle. Actually, Kentwood High School, as his people told me via email earlier this week. Same fluorescent T-shirt? Lucky T-shirt? He jokes about doing ecstasy while working out. Applause break for a joke about women wondering why people are staring at them when they have "juicy" written on their butts. More jokes about the gym and workout machines, and Dye goes straight at the judges. Dye gets interviewed by the Brit lady. This, plus the emails I got telling me to watch Dye in the semis, tell me and you all we need to know.
Erin Foley says it's time for a woman to win this competition. Bellamy bills her as another New York City comedian. She auditioned in Los Angeles. Anyhow. She has a baby shower to go to, but there's a lot of different kind of juices to consider. Her dictionary jokes aren't getting big laughs. A bit about being a sideline reporter for football telecasts. No big faces or energy? What gives? Did someone tell her to hold back?
Dan Naturman. Here we go, people. A nod to his Connecticut roots. He does his bit about Internet dating and photos. Prescription drugs. He ends his routine mid-joke. They laugh. I laugh. It doesn't matter, people.
Another installment of...LAST COMIC DRIVING! This week, Jacob Sirof gets the hot seat. Eh. I have more to say about this in another post.
Ooh. It's the Israeli Carrot Top (Bellamy even says so!) Lioz Shem Tov, or as Bob Biggerstaff likes to call him, Mozel Top! Anyhow. Carrot Top has a standing gig in Vegas, so you'd think Mozel Top would do well, too, right? He shows us Mickey Mouse ears on Viagra, a turtle, Spider-Man cutting himself shaving, a long bit that's PC-based. Oooh. We go back to the judges. "It wasn't typical jokes," Belzer says. "There's no rhyme or reason to what you were doing, but it was funny," Schirripa says. Hard to tell, people. The Brit lady is starting to grow on me. Maybe it's her kindness. Just as likely it's her sexy outfits.
Dale Jones is from Nashville. I sense he'll have some funny voices and faces, just by looking at his face. He starts out with big energy to play to the big room. Gets an applause break for acknowledging that he is "the strange on the road." Well, he didn't pee his britches or nothing.
Erin Jackson from Washington, D.C., just got a second-place cash prize at the festival in Nebraska, so we know she can do a short TV-friendly set. Jokes about how being a comedian actually should make her better marriage material. Black stereotypes, and the Tooth Fairy are also targets. So far, so good.
After another break and some onstage foolishness that we don't quite get to see, the Brooklyn Christian acoustic duo known as God's Pottery takes the stage. Only time for one song, and they pick their ditty about premarital sex, "The Pants Go Off When The Ring Goes On." Both judges say how they believe the guys and think it's not an act anymore. Wink. Wink. I already know they're through, and now so do you.
Ron G. auditioned in L.A., but he's from Atlanta, and he talks about how it's tough to hold onto a job, even a one-day assignment. He has a special voice he uses when he's in trouble...do you?
Drennon Davis, with a South Lake Tahoe residence listed, comes out without the uke or a guitar. So no songs tonight. Will this work? First joke, not so much. Vegas joke, better. Davis does some beat-box rapping, though. Um, yeah.
Winston Spear we saw in the initial previews standing outside in the snow saying he was going to be the last comic standing, and I certainly didn't believe him then. But then again, here he is in Las Vegas in the semis. So it's possible. He has won big comedy awards in Canada. Can he win here? A funny time-machine joke. Schirripa doesn't get his twitching and everything else. Hmmm.
Shazia Mirza, aka the British Muslim lady we've seen on 60 Minutes, jokes about her background. OK when you only have three minutes. Makes me wonder what her longer set sounds like. She tells the Brit lady she wouldn't want to do this again? Well, the producers certainly can make that not happen.
Englishman Paul Foot says he has never been to Vegas before, so hooray for that, and he starts with a bit comparing his skills as a lover with his skills as a driver. Why must cakes always be described as moist? Good question. And with that, I'm hitting my space bar wherever I may choose.
How many commercial breaks will there be, anyhow???
Andi Smith says what you really need to know about being on Last Comic Standing and winning, is that it means clubs will book you as a headliner knowing you'll "put butts in seats." She's from St. Louis, but she has performed in West Virginia for a crowd of eight, and had a funny joke or two or three about that. She clearly is not worried about offending anyone. Even in Vegas. Fearless or crazy?
The Meehan Brothers from San Francisco also could be described as fearless and crazy. Because this bit relies solely on one of the brothers and his physicality. Actually, I'm going to chalk this up more to crazy than fearless.
And your first group of finalists, moving into a house in Hollywood, are...Adam Hunter! God's Pottery! (I love how they kept up their goofy grins throughout the dramatic lighting sequence) Ron G! Wait. Only two tickets left? Oh, right. Paul Foot! Jeff Dye!
Obviously, Naturman should have made it through. Again. No fussing this time around. An interesting decision to move a parody duo into a stand-up competition, but the boys are funny. Including Foot allows you to say you're international. Dye represents youth. Well. There we have it. Next week, the other half gets cut down to size.
OK. They just ended with an "in memory" card to George Carlin, which, sure, Carlin has done so much for comedy, but if you're really going to honor him, you need to start making this show about finding the next great original inspirational stand-up, OK? Alrighty then.
ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT?! Yes, indeedy...
Last year, NBC's Last Comic Standing showcased their "best of the worst" auditions during the finale. This time around, they couldn't even wait for the audition phase to end before giving us their so-called most outrageous tryouts. That couldn't be a good sign, could it? They're even teasing the "most shocking audition" from the top of the program with a countdown clock.
Our judges at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco are some guy from Chuck whose name I do not know but whose scary goatee will stay with me for hours to come, and French Stewart in his highest-profile gig since 3rd Rock From the Sun, unless you count that movie from eons ago that replays over and over on Showtime and -- not-so-fun fact -- has Stewart's best friend played by none other than LCS host Bill Bellamy! Jason Downs jokes about how easy it really is to find Anne Frank in Amsterdam, but we keep another eye on the tick-tock clock, and what we get is Shashi Bhatia from North Hollywood. OK. Shock me, Shashi. Wait. Really? That was it? That was the "most shocking audition" ever? We'll have to agree to disagree, and by we, I mean pretty much everyone who exists in the universe.
There's a guy in a fly mask, who reminds me of the guy in the alien outfit, and the Internet tells us that both are real comedians who perform like that. Alrighty then.
The Meehan Brothers (previously seen on video on this blog via Hulu) get by with a little help from each other, and you can debate whether they're stand-ups or street performers all you want, but I'm not sure how duos or trios or groups are supposed to compete in the house challenges this show promises later on in the competition? It seems better suited for a different show, really. And here, now, we present Iliza Shlesinger, who showed up briefly in many of the promo ads and tells us she's only been in comedy for three years. Which means she could be this year's Amy Schumer or April Macie. Either way, she's charming, has good stage presence and wears shirts with cleavage to remind us that she's a lady, and even the guy from Chuck thinks Stewart is asking her out on a date. Jesse Case came here from Nashville and is clever enough. Drennon Davis plays to seals? Children's songs that go dark? Who's heard that before? An industry in-joke gets a pass. The two A-Holes are next...er, um, I mean Sky and Nancy Collins from Orange County. They have sweaters (and you saw them previously on this blog). Joe Klocek needs exposure? Done. A montage of good comedy follows, with Candy Churilla, Jonathan Thymius, a skinny guy, Jeff Dye and Mike E. Winfield all making it to the live audience showcase round.
As the showcase begins, we see Whitney Cummings! Spoiler alert? Actually, NBC spoiled it this time, because they already showed us Cummings last week in the separate "Last Comic Driving" contest, so we know she ain't getting a ticket here tonight. Or at least they won't show her advancing. We see Case perform first, and his jokes about playing a prank on Best Buy (hello, Improv Everywhere!) and tailgating to see the other vehicle's DVD player (clever, but I've heard others do that one, too) get a good audience response. The Collins, well, yeah. Thymius does foot ventriloquism? Odd. Cummings is up next, but like I said, we know what happens to her. Farting or no farting. Larry "Bubbles" Brown...Bubbles? Dye proves how bad-ass he is. "If they're not entertained, I will dance," he tells the British lady. Hey, that's my line!
By the way, this week's contestant on Last Comic Driving is...J. Chris Newberg. And he's got songs to sing. Yeah. I cannot think of a worse act to put in the passenger seat of a car than a guy with a guitar. No offense to Mr. Newberg. This simply isn't the right venue for that sort of thing. C'mon, NBC. You can do better than this.
The Meehans do an Irish Three Amigos thing. Downs describes the cheapest cruise ever. Andy Haynes has a thing against teeth, and does he look like he does meth? Klocek explains why you don't need a sign that says "how to order," and saw a guy punch a pigeon. Shlesinger eats like a guy, apparently. That skinny guy seen earlier now identified as Tony Dijamco, and he's too old for a pedophile. Winfield can't handle his wife's pregnancy scares. The Brit lady reminds Churilla to be nervous, and she says she prefers weed and alcohol to speed dating. Davis does another song, and it sounds just like the last one, only longer, and he ends with an Andy Kaufman thank you. Hmmm.
Tickets to the semis go to...Davis???? Shlesinger! The Meehans. Dye! As they show the winners backstage, it looks as though Winfield is holding an envelope, too, but not for long? Shlesinger talks to her mom on her cell phone and leans forward (ahem), but her mom isn't particularly congratulatory. "You're really sucking the joy out of this," Iliza says. You're telling me.
Onward to Toronto! Bellamy is in a Mounties outfit. Naturally. Someone wisely notes that American Idol lets its auditioners wait inside. At Yuk Yuk's, Dave Foley and Richard Kind might be my favorite judges so far with their honesty and their humor going through the motions here, although the comics as a whole here aren't extraordinary. Maybe it's a Canadian thing.