The Futon Critic is claiming an exclusive overnight that NBC would not be airing a season of Last Comic Standing in the summer of 2011, citing a network spokesperson.
Except you didn't need anyone from NBC to tell you that. All you had to do was notice that they hadn't held a single audition yet for LCS this year. They had announced the return of Last Comic Standing for season seven in 2010 in January of that year. Last year's auditions for season seven of LCS took place in early March. And there's nothing on the NBC casting site for the show. So, yeah. If it's the middle of March and they haven't done a single bit of production on the series for the summer, you can probably get an NBC spokesperson to confirm that the series is back on hiatus. LCS previously had taken years off between seasons 3 and 4, and between seasons 6 and 7. Season 7 averaged just shy of 4 million viewers on average, produced as always by Peter Engel Productions.
The Last Comic Standing 7 tour rolled through a rainy New York City last week, and the fellas were kind enough to invite me over to hang out with them backstage at the Best Buy Theater (formerly Nokia) in Times Square.
For Jonathan Thymius, it was his first chance to join the tour, as he was subbing for Myq Kaplan, who had a NACA gig previously scheduled for that night. For the other finalists from this season on NBC, the tour already has sent them around America for several weekends. Sometimes by plane. Sometimes by bus. It's an interesting time for Mike DeStefano, Roy Wood Jr., Tommy Johnagin and Felipe Esparza, as this tour serves as a bridge for their careers. But to where? They won't know for certain until the tour is over. Or if there is another season of Last Comic Standing to replace them in audiences' memories. For now, though, it's time to hit the road. Meet new fans. See the sights. Sell some merch. It's a living.
I shot some brief footage, stitched it together, and presto, click-o, it's a montage. Roll the clip!
The finalists from season seven of NBC's Last Comic Standing begin a North America tour tonight in Chico, Calif. Great news for Felipe Esparza, Tommy Johnagin, Roy Wood Jr., Mike DeStefano and Myq Kaplan, as well as fans of these comedians who'd like to see them live in a city near them between now and early 2011. But why can't Ticketmaster settle on one name for the tour so it's easy to get tickets? It's listed under five different names, depending upon the city.
Felipe Esparza has had quite a week, after winning the title on NBC's seventh season of Last Comic Standing and the $250,000 grand prize, $50,000 of which comes with a talent deal from the Peacock Network. "It's been crazy, man," Esparza told me on Thursday. "I've been walking down the street. A lot of cars been honking, people yelling, 'I voted for you!'"
Even the winner must submit to his "Exit Interview" with The Comic's Comic. So here we go!
Name: Felipe Esparza
Age: 12! I'm 40. 32?
Hometown: Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Calif.
Current city of residence: Echo Park, Los Angeles
Tell me about the first time you did stand-up: "I started when I was 24. It sucked. I got two laughs and then I said 'Good night.' But it was a good experience for me. I went in there by myself. It was an open mic, so I had no idea how to judge me, I had no freinds with me. They said, 'You did fine, come back next week.'"
Did you audition for Last Comic Standing before, and if so, how did that go? "I did the first year, and season five. Well, the first one I made it all the way to the stage and then they didn't pick me. The second time, Kathleen Madigan didn't like me. She said, 'I don't see anything.'" That's weird because Ant was the harshest critic that year. "No, Ant liked me and so did Alonzo Bodden."
If you said yes, then what did you learn from your past experiences that helped you move further in the competition this year? Was the third time the charm? "Yeah, that's right." (laughs) "Nothing. I didn't learn anything. I didn't want to do it this year. But my theatrical agent got a call and he said they want you to audition. I didn't want anybody to give me a ride over there or drive me there, because if they said no, it'd be a long ride home. So i just rode my beach cruiser over...and then i rode my bike to victory."
When did you think you had a serious chance of winning this thing? "When Myq Kaplan and Mike DeStefano and Roy Wood Jr. got eliminated. When we were standing there together, me and Tommy Johnigan, the whole audience was yelling 'Felipe!' I really thought it was going to come down to Roy Wood and me or Mike DeStefano and me. But when I heard Natasha Leggero tell Myq Kaplan that he would win if it were Last Comic Writer Standing, and when I heard Mike DeStefano have the best set of his life, although it was rough. And my set, I thought it went great. At the end, with Craig Robinson, I couldn't hear my name, I was waiting for the 'F' sound for Felipe. And then I saw my face on TV. I haven't had that look on my face since my cousin got a not guilty verdict."
How did you feel about the format changes in the contest this season, and was there anything from the old formats that you missed? "I don't know. I was glad it was more of a comedy competition where you do jokes, and they approve them and you do them. I thought it was much better than living in the house and then getting kicked out for doing BlackBerrys." Your buddy Gabriel Iglesias got in trouble for that in his season, right! "When I saw he got kicked off for a BlackBerry...Wait a minute, are you serious? He thought it was a Blackberry pie! If they had a house, I don't think the top five would have made it." Who would have made it? "The girls. I don't know. I never watched the show when they had the house. I stopped watching (before) when I got eliminated. Even though, if they had a house, I was ready for anything, but I was glad they didn't have a house. But to be sequestered in your own town, you feel like your in prison. If you're from out of town, it's a vacation." How long were you sequestered? "We were sequestered one day a week from 8 in the morning, for like 15 hours." What were those days like? "Boooring. So boring that the final day we were tired of being told don't go there. So every time Mike DeStefano had to smoke up a cigarette, they had a chaperone. Every time I wanted a soda or water, I couldn't go get it. On the last day, I didn't want to say anything, but this guy makes a horrible coffee."
How long have you known Gabriel Iglesias? "We've known each other since he first started doing stand-up. Even when he was a kid on that Nickelodeon show All That. We did a show together, Que Locos. A lot of people never heard about it, but people who were 22 years old saw me on that when they were 15...Roger Paul, we helped him and Mike Robles assemble Latino comedians, then after we ran out of Latinos we got the best of the best...that show was #1 on a Spanish station. The only English stand-up comedy show to be on a Spanish station. We went on a 40-city tour because of this show."
In it to win it until the final minutes, Tommy Johnagin was the runner-up in the seventh season of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Johnagin, with two appearances on Letterman under his belt as well as a half-hour Comedy Central special before entering the competition, will not have to be put on Suicide Watch. At least that's what he told me when I called him last night and pretended to be Barry Katz, interrupting Johnagin's pre-show meal of chicken fingers at the Funny Bone in Omaha. Fun facts! Want more?
This is his exit interview.
Name: Tommy Johnagin
Hometown: Benton, Ill.
Current city of residence: St. Louis, Mo.
Tell me about the first time you did stand-up: Open mic when I was 18 and an hour-and-a-half from home. I talked about Siamese twins. Exactly as funny as it sound.
Did you audition for Last Comic Standing before, and if so, how did that/those experiences go? I auditioned three years ago and made the semi-finals. It was a great experience and I'm glad I didn't make the finals until this year
If you said yes, then what did you learn from your past experiences that helped you move further in the competition this year? I learned how to lose. The most helpful thing was knowing how awkward the first audition in front of the judges would be.
When did you think you had a serious chance of winning this thing? I felt good the day I auditioned.
He may have finished third on your programs for NBC's Last Comic Standing, season seven, but Roy Wood Jr. remains number one in the hearts and minds of his hometown in Birmingham, Ala., and perhaps in yours as well.
This is his official Exit Interview with The Comic's Comic.
Name: Roy Wood Jr.
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Current city of residence: Los Angeles, CA
Tell me about the first time you did stand-up: Nov. 1998. 19 years old. The first time I did stand up comedy was at an open mic night in Birmingham at the Comedy Club Stardome. Open Mic. It was only once a month so I’d ride the Greyhound up from Tallahassee. At the time I was still in school @ Florida A&M Univ. the bulk of my early years of comedy was doing open mics around B’ham, Atlanta, & most of the Florida Panhandle. There’s no real comedy ‘nucleus’ in the south like NYC or L.A. so there was a lot of driving back then to get stage time.
Did you audition for Last Comic Standing before, and if so, how did that/those experiences go? 2002 Atlanta - Didn’t get past the morning audition. I was out there at 8am didn’t get seen until 4pm. And when I got in the room I barely got my first joke out. In hindsight it was good that I didn’t go far. I wasn’t ready.
2007 San Antonio - Got to the nighttime audition. Didn’t get past that round that night though. Ralph Harris was in that crop of comics that moved on.
If you said yes, then what did you learn from your past experiences that helped you move further in the competition this year? I've always been of the belief that I need to have a quick first laugh, 10-20 seconds into the set. Even if it’s not a strong laugh. Just something. You don’t have a lot of time on stage in these shows. My approach to the show this year was to simply have as many laughs as possible. For me that meant not necessarily always picking my best joke, but the best joke for the time that I was allotted. Some of my best jokes are 3-5 minutes. But if I only have 90 seconds to fill then maybe that joke isn’t the best bet.
Case in Point: in 2003 I made it to the Semi-finals of CBS’ Star Search hosted by Arsenio Hall. I had this great 3-4 minute bit about wrestling that I wanted to do. But producers were only giving comics 2 minutes. Instead of doing another joke I attempted to cram 4 minutes into 2 and the joke went flat.
When did you think you had a serious chance of winning this thing? When I survived the first elimination. The first episode in which all of the final 10 performed was in my opionion my weakest set of the show. For whatever reason my jokes weren’t connecting like they did in later rounds. I remember being on stage for the first elimination feeling like ‘If I make it through this round, I have a lot of decent material left.’ Wasn’t sure if it’d be good enough to win, but I definitely felt more confident.
How did you feel about the format changes in the contest this season, and was there anything from the old formats that you missed? I enjoyed the new format. I’m not much of a drama queen, plus, when you’re casting a comedy show and you have to put people in a house, then I feel like you’re beginning to pick people on elements OTHER than their stand-up comedy skills. That’s fine if you want a show like that, but you can’t turn around and call it a straight up Stand-up Competition. I saw a lot of back and forth from people on Twitter talking about how they wanted comics all in a house. I spoke with a few comics from previous seasons who have ALL told me “you got it good.” I’ll take their word for it. Comics being judged on nothing BUT jokes is a good deal to me.
Did you have previous experience with comedy competitions, and how did LCS compare to those? I did It's Showtime At The Apollo 2001. Back then they used to have something called ‘Comedy TKO’ Two comics would go out and do 3 mins then the audience would cheer loudest for who they thought should win that week. A little known fact about the Apollo Theatre is that the alcohol there is very cheap. And the black people there drink a lot of it. The tapings begin at 7pm but normally they do 4-5 music acts FIRST THEN the amateurs, THEN the Comedians. By this time it’s 11pm. And you’re going to do comedy to a room full of people who have been drinking for the past 4 hours. Black people. In Harlem. I went out on stage and laid a turd. I was 30 seconds from being booed but I cut my set early and shot off the stage.
2003 I did the CBS reboot of Star Search was a different experience because during that run they had 3 main judges & one guest judge. Naomi Judd, Ahmet Zappa, Ben Stein, & whatever non comedic shitbag CBS could dig up that week. One week it was some Carrie Underwood type chick and my next week on the show it was B2K. My first week on the show I got great reviews and got 20 out of 20 stars. The second week I made the mistake of trying to cram a 4 min bit into a 2 min set and it fell flat. I got 8 stars out of 20. In this particular round I was up against John Heffron & Alonzo Bodden. Zo ended up winning that round. What made that round so special is that half of the then hit pop group ‘B2K’ were the guest judges. Really? My comedy is going to be judged by 14 year olds who haven’t done shit in their life? They pissed on Me, Heff, & Zo. In hindsight Ben Stein was the only one out of the four that knew anything about comedy.
If you want to go deeper into Mike DeStefano's dark worldview, which actually makes more sense if you give it a listen, then you can read my previous interview with him, then hear more than an hour of his NSFW stand-up comedy on his new CD, OK Karma.
In the meantime, here is his official "Exit Interview" with The Comic's Comic, which we recorded overnight on the steps outside the Comedy Cellar in NYC. Roll it.
The record will show that Myq Kaplan finished fifth on the seventh season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, although as judge Natasha Leggero said, if it were Last Comic Writer Standing, he would've won. Also if it were Last Comic Who Changed His First Name Standing. And other things. Time for a debriefing.
This is Myq Kaplan's exit interview.that/those experiences go: The show started very early in my comedy career, and the first season, I stood in line for the open call with a bunch of equally naive friends in Boston, only to be told after a very short audition that I wasn't ready. Which I wasn't. So, good. I believe I tried one more time at standing in line when I was in Florida visiting my grandmother in a later season, with similar results. Finally, last season I actually had a manager who helped set up a booked audition, wherein I went in without standing in line, only to be cut off by one of the celebrity judges about five seconds into my first joke. So, the way my previous auditioning experiences went was, let's say, consistent.If you said yes, then what did you learn from your past experiences that helped you move further in the competition this year? I learned to be thankful that Steve Schirripa was not a judge this time.When did you think you had a serious chance of winning this thing? When you asked this question right now. Or maybe right before it. Or after. Sincerely, every point of this thing has been full of a combination of optimism and knowledge of the statistical reality of the situation. Even now that it's over, I still think I have a chance. Time travel is still a possibility, unless science keeps dropping the ball.
With his tongue figuratively and firmly planted in cheek, executive producer Peter Engel has released several short "words of wisdom" remarks before the seventh-season finale of Last Comic Standing airs on NBC on Monday.
Here he compares judges Andy Kindler, Alonzo Bodden, Joe Rogan somehow with Elena Kagan, who he says could not get confirmed by NBC. Includes NSFW language!
Here he predicts the winner, or does he?
And now, finally The Final 5 cylons, er, comedians in this seventh season of Last Comic Standing will be revealed and perform for your votes and $250,000 in cash and prizes from NBC. Oh, and almost just as importantly, as host Craig Robinson says up front, there's also the "Last Comic" theater tour.
Oh, we're going to find out right away. Jonathan Thymius is your and our sixth-place finisher.
Which means our Final 5 are Mike DeStefano, Myq Kaplan, Felipe Esparza, Tommy Johnigan and Roy Wood, Jr.
They get to be on tour together "for the next 297 days," Robinson says. Wow. Just wow. Congrats, fellas! And by the way, for anyone who asked me before the season started (including at least one of the finalists),I pretty much nailed it on the head. Enough about me. It's about these five guys. Now time to go for the big prize...
First up is Roy Wood Jr., who gets a full refresher video for us to see glimpses of his journey from the first audition to the finals. Fun fact: He was arrested at 19, and discovered comedy as a coping mechanism. That was 1998. This is tonight. And tonight, Wood also opens up about how excited his drunk uncle is, even though he keeps plugging the wrong NBC show. He says Mississippi residents think everyone hates black people, which, well, Obama? Hey, look, Ryan Hamilton is in the audience smiling and clapping. Not because he likes or dislikes black people, but because he likes this black person, or because the director told the feed to switch to that camera operator. Most likely that last one. Meanwhile, Wood jokes about how he is not going to remember his married friend's dumb lie about hanging out in Puaberto Rico two years ago. And he closes with a bit about women trying to catch their men in the act. Judges? Andy Kindler says Wood keeps getting better and better, and tags his punchline about wristbands. Natasha Leggero tells him to stay single so he can wind up with a hot chick when he wins. Greg Giraldo also congratulates Wood. Looking good for Mr. Wood. But there are still four more comics to compete for your attention and affection.
Tommy Johnagin tells us he knew he wanted to be a comedian since he was a kid, and that his father has been supportive of him along the way. He's going back to the deep blue shirt with tie combo, we see, and lets us know he had a redneck uncle who stole a porta-potty. The dumbest thing he did, however, was visit a gynecologist for a sports physical, and he tells us all about that, which went on much longer than you would think something like that might happen in real life. There's also the time he hit a deer, and the woman sitting in his car yelled "Deer!" Solid stuff. Ixnay on the sweaty pits. Leggero says nice things about him finding jokes inside the jokes, and there goes your theory about her hating him. Giraldo calls him "a great comedian." Kindler says he cannot vote because he has a thermal fax machine, so instead, he'll make T-shirts for Johnagin to sell as merch?
Oh, hello adorable woman in the Lowe's commercial who looks even more adorable in the UCB Theatre basement all this past weekend during the Del Close Marathon. Wait. What?
And suddenly, our nationally televised stand-up comedy competition has become a comedy pageant, because right off the top, our seven remaining comedians step up to the mic and tell us their names and "hometowns." But it's going to be too late for one of these seven to win our hearts and our votes, because those votes already have been cast and sealed away.
It has been brought to my attention that perhaps the one mistake Last Comic Standing has made this year that didn't seem like a mistake until now, is that they should not have gotten rid of the house. Some of the challenges of seasons past didn't really do justice to the art and life of a comedian, but the very fact that we got plenty of time to see the finalists offstage meant that we also got to find out whether we liked them, and that might have helped some of this year's contestants much more than an edited or scaled-down set of only two to three minutes. If anything, this season has given the most stage time to its three judges, which is great news for Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo -- and especially for Kindler, who has (if anyone wants to crunch the numbers and challenge me on this, you'll be wrong) generated the most quips, zingers and audible laughs out of anyone appearing on the show this season. So it's kind of weird that only now, with tonight's episode, that we're getting a little more of a look at our finalists. Note: Some semi-finalists and finalists did get introduced to us from the start with behind-the-scenes human-interest pieces, but of those, only a few remain in the running.
Host Craig Robinson calls our judges "incredibly powerful people," which is, well, obvs, since in Robinson's world, he's "the black Justin Bieber." He asks all seven comedians to step forward, and gives Jonathan Thymius the first proclamation of safety -- which, on this show, means buckle up and get ready to do a set. In our backstory for Thymius, we learn that his other business is something called Comedy O' Gram, and with his stand-up so far, we never know when he's setting us up for a fake-out. I mean, look at the sheet of paper as he scribbles out "aniversari" (sic) and replaces it with "anivercrye"! But, well, it appears to be a real thing he's plugging on his site to render Comedy O'Gram services. And here is a short he did that appeared on Funny or Die back in April:
So there's that. What about his actual set for the NBC audience, though? He opens by asking if it's Groundhog Day. Thymius is a weird one, that's for sure. It's almost as if he's not trying to win. I mean, I know from reading his Facebook and seeing his friends help get out the vote that he wants to win and others want him to, too. But still. His slow, absurd style, on a show like this, feels more like anti-comedy. Kindler loves his "lack of energy" and the idea that he would write down "birds" as a joke. Leggero says she thought his cowboy joke was dirty, and says nobody else could get away with doing his material. Giraldo loves that he stays in character all through the set, but feels like he is running out of his A-material. What do you think, America? It's too late to call, but never too late to think.
After the break, Robinson lets us know who is next to perform, and therefore safe for another week. It's Roy Wood Jr. There's something about seeing the looks on their faces, in which they go through a variety of emotions -- from shock that they made it, to relief that they made it, to shock that they have to deliver their set in about a minute or so. It's a complete reverse from American Idol results shows. There, the people who are safe can just sit and smile, while it's the person who is eliminated who is expected to shut down all human emotion and perform in that moment. So it's not the greatest psychological situation for a stand-up, but it certainly tests their mettle and fortitude. Meanwhile, in Wood's profile video, we see his mom saying the family had wished he would have gotten "a real job," followed by him saying it took him a couple of years but now his mom is his biggest fan. Just not enough of a fan to fake an injury to win him sympathy votes. As for his material onstage, he is immediately into the act, at a "certain fast-food restaurant" where another man tries to pull him into his drama for only getting four out of his five chicken nuggets. I'm going to put my vote on Wendy's for this one. Am I right, Roy? What do I win? Giraldo is seen smiling as Wood says he's not going to join the "Nugget Coalition." The crowd is on his side, as well. Wood also feels like he needs to have a bunch of kids at once, because then strangers will give him free stuff, because that is the hustle out there. As we see the audience clap and laugh, we also get a glimpse of a countdown clock. Is that better or worse than getting the light? I'd think some comics would see it and perhaps talk too quickly and/or skip a punchline or tag. Wood is OK, though, and the judges think he is more than OK.
After another break -- looks like we're getting one comedian per segment now -- Robinson asks for applause for "the biggest letters in primetime," as the giant C-O-M-I-C backdrop remains in place from weeks past. Myq Kaplan breathes a big ol' sigh of relief as his name is called, and in his video, he gives us a music video. It's wordy, it's quirky, it's Myq. Onstage, he does what he does in tagging Wood's bit on chicken nuggets, and he sets up his own bit on TV, and then other bits in which the audience laughs and applauds, quick hitters, until he gets to his closing bit about Final Destination. The judges all love him, and Leggero says he would definitely win Last Comedy Writer Standing. That's not what this show is, but you knew that, because you can read the title of this post.
I've received more than a few emails from people with their own spoofs of the leaked Mel Gibson phone calls, but only one of them comes with an ad for Last Comic Standing at the end of the video. So who wants to bet we see this on the show Monday night?
In it, comedian and LCS judge Andy Kindler goes off on a comedic rant against a would-be comedian with an accent suggesting she is Mel's baby mama Oksana, but instead of attracting a wild pack of racist slurs that would get him fired by his agents, Kindler suggests she wants a wild pack of hecklers on her ass instead. Roll the full clip. Don't worry. It's safe for work.
Breaking news?! Earlier, I thought you might want to know how the seventh season of NBC's Last Comic Standing would play out. Turns out NBC and the producers have modified and solidified those plans, and confirmed them to me this evening.
Right now, it's down to our Top 7: Mike DeStefano, Felipe Esparza, Rachel Feinstein, Tommy Johnagin, Myq Kaplan, Jonathan Thymius and Roy Wood Jr.
As host Craig Robinson implied at the end of Monday night's telecast, only one comic will be eliminated on the July 26 broadcast. The Top 6 will perform that day for your votes.
On Aug. 2, one more stand-up comedian will be eliminated on the broadcast, leaving the Top 5, who will be performing for your votes to decide the winner, who will be revealed Aug. 9, along with performances from special guests (perhaps including this year's judges, Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo) and extra hoopla.
That means that, just as in 2008, our winner will be determined in a five-way vote. Crazy, but nonetheless true. So make your votes count, American comedy fans!
Previously, we watched this seventh season of NBC's Last Comic Standing through the magic (and sometimes witchcraft) of several-weeks tape delay. The comedians themselves could have forgotten how their performances had gone, only to see them slightly changed in the editing room. But not now. Now the final 10 have flown and/or driven to Glendale, Calif., for same-day competition, with morning tapings set for broadcast that same evening. They would know, and we would know, how it all shakes down today.
Oh, and our judges -- Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo -- all have returned to the arena of comedy battles, all of them also fresh off of their own performances at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival. Host Craig Robinson opened with a LeBron James joke before re-introducing us to the LCS 7 Top 10. Would the results of last week's voting be drawn out for the full hour, a la American Idol? Nope. Not too long at all for four comedians, as Roy Wood Jr., Mike DeStefano, James Adomian and Myq Kaplan are asked to step forward (all others, Robinson says, should shuffle offstage). Robinson gives the OK to DeStefano, then Wood. It's down to Kaplan and Adomian, who exchange creepy smiles at each other awaiting their fate, as only one of them will continue onward. It's Kaplan! Who in his close-up, breathes a very realistic sigh of relief. Adomian, meanwhile, is still smiling and also now clapping. I talked to Adomian in Montreal, and based on what he told me, I don't think he was surprised at all. The producers play an "In Memorium" for him, which also includes his pre-taped farewell, in which he declares: "America, next time, don't look a gift horse in the mouth." He holds his head high and off he goes.
First performer of the evening is Mike DeStefano. He says thanks for keeping him on, and tells us he bought some soap that cost $75. "Does it clean shame?" he asks. He also doesn't know how to express his feelings to a woman on a dinner date, because all he feels is hungry. "Deep down inside, I'm really hungry." He gets an applause break when he's asked why he is at couples therapy (presumably asked by the therapist), and says it's because the woman is broken and needs to be fixed. Blaming people for his problems? "That's my mother's fault. Sorry, mom." He continues with the idea that he's not good with therapy. Nor is he good with a woman on a first date who thinks they've been together for much longer than that. Last week, no judges around to influence the audience. But they're back. Kindler calls DeStefano "frightening and lovable" and makes up his own scoring: 5 HAs! Leggero has kind words for him, even if he doesn't have kind words to say about women. Giraldo wasn't listening to Leggero (tag!) but also liked him.
Robinson teases the first commercial break by saying we'd get to hear from "Internet sensation Mel Gibson."
After the break, he gets in a dig on "The Bachelorette" airing in competition with them on ABC, saying that show is even sadder than knowing three comics will have to go home. "There's a reason why she's single," Robinson said.
Roy Wood Jr. opens by saying: "Good to see you guys. I just did a show in South Dakota. Because I like performing where there's no people." Looks like we're getting more of his "sports bar" chunk, and notes that America is still exciting even if we did not win the World's Cup. And he thinks the world is better for that, because some countries hate us for political reasons, and he compares it to having the Lakers lose to Al Qaeda. "That would suck," he said. I'm not sure about this, because it would mean we'd know where they were and could trap them all, so let's hope those terrorists get off of the jungle gyms and start learning how to shoot hoops! But back to Wood. He realizes that at age 31, he will not be paying off his student loans. Note to Wood: If you win the $250,000, the college loan people probably will notice. Look at me, shooting all sorts of truth holes into his fictional premises. Moving to L.A. from Alabama, he has noticed there are more Latinos in this country than black people, to which audience members hoot and holler. "You're winning, shut up," he retorts quickly. Wood doesn't understand why black people are mad about Mexicans and other people wanting civil rights, since, he notes, wasn't that the point? More of a statement than a joke, that last one, but he comes off well in his set. Leggero gives him advice on his college loans, but calls him likeable. Giraldo jokes that he didn't like Wood's "pro-Mexican" material, and Kindler agrees, but says he cannot get away with saying "blacks and Mexicans." On a more substantial note, he also said that he loved Wood's voice and would listen to anything he had to say.
I've got to do a thing, and then another thing today, so before I get you all caught up on what you missed this weekend, how about I tell you about something else that you missed last week. On NBC's Last Comic Standing, I know a few people were confused about Roy Wood Jr.'s routine about the crazy people at sports bars. Well, what if I were to tell you that before performing this joke on network primetime television, Wood told this routine differently in the comedy clubs, with a wee bit more specificity to it?
If you'd like to see that, then here that is, recorded earlier this year at Crackers Comedy Club in Indianapolis and brought to you courtesy of Rooftop Comedy, here is Roy Wood Jr. opening his set by joking about sports fans in sports bars, and one bar in particular, where he is not feeling good about the neighborhood. Roll it.
Strap in, comedy fans. We're about to see 10 comedians perform stand-up on primetime network TV in front of giant letters lit up in light bulbs to spell out "COMIC." But nobody is king (nor queen) just yet, so none of these 10 can rightfully wear a robe and crown like Ricky Gervais did for his stand-up special. Nope. Not yet. This...is...Last Comic Standing. Season Seven. The final 10. Here we go! Host Craig Robinson is excited. The judges are not excited, since they are not televised this evening.
Laurie Kilmartin said she has thought about quitting the comedy game before, so she just "wants to have fun while I'm here," whether she finishes first or tenth. Kilmartin opens with a premise that her ex-boyfriend wants to get back with her -- cue the ooohs and boos from the live studio audience, and as if they were cued, they ooh and boo. Good job, live studio audience! Wait. We're supposed to be listening to those expertly-crafted jokes that the judges kept telling us that Kilmartin was writing. She mocks her ex's mistress for her misspellings. And she jokes that her son can only be good if he's gay. And yet, he also makes her want to give up, while on the toilet, or even when reading "The Little Engine That Could" for the sixth time in one evening.
Felipe Esparza is up next, and this is the biggest thing for his career -- c'mon, now, this is obviously the biggest thing for the careers of all 10 of these comedians, otherwise they wouldn't be here, but that's just one of the things that people on a reality TV contest have to say. That, and this is nerve-wracking. And eventually someone will have to say that he or she is not here to make friends. Esparza comes off, though, as the kind of guy who would be anybody's friend. He jokes about his frequent ride-alongs with the police, and Fortune Feimster is forced to watch from the audience as he jokes about getting his college degree. He says Mexico would help America with the war in Iraq, if only they could hitch a ride. And one smiling white (albeit blue-lit) woman gets every visual cue to smile when Esparza says a punchline about immigration, and she is even shown giving him a standing ovation.
Roy Wood Jr. tells us he auditioned in 2002 and 2007 for the show, and his goal is the same this year, except he is much closer to reaching that goal, as Tom Shillue can see from that background shot of a previous episode that did not acknowledge his presence. Third time the charm for Wood? He has a sharp opening line about getting punched in the face at a sports bar, and about a fan who takes it a little too far. He also thinks there is a way to make swimming more popular, and swimmers will not like it one bit. And why would you kick him out for giving kids realism in their Career Day. We all need chicken nuggets and lap dances! That may be the wrong message for first graders, but Americans are on board. Unless they are vegan and feminists. That might be redundant. I don't know.
NBC's seventh season of Last Comic Standing begins tonight with the first of several episodes in which America gets to decide who moves on and survives past the final 10. Unless, of course, you believe in conspiracy theories and want to figure out who executive producer Barry Katz is managing (but even then, you probably would not "guess" the winner, based on past seasons).
So, since we have left our cynicism behind in the previous paragraph, let us now tell you how LCS 7 will play out.
Tonight: Unlike the previous six seasons, in which finalists cast votes against one another to a challenge in front of a studio audience ("I know I'm funnier than XXX"), all 10 finalists will perform their stand-up routines in this first round. They'll each get a phone number and info for viewers to call/text and cast their votes. So in these senses, it'll be more like American Idol. Your 10 finalists are, in alphabetical order: James Adomian, Mike DeStefano, Felipe Esparza, Rachel Feinstein, Tommy Johnigan, Myq Kaplan, Laurie Kilmartin, Jonathan Thymius, Maronzio Vance and Roy Wood, Jr. But know this: They taped this showcase showdown several weeks ago at the Alex Theater in Glendale, Calif. It's not live. Sets may have been edited or re-arranged. Also: If you really want to vote for your favorites, you better hop to it, because they're cutting two or three each week! Yes. That's right. The bottom three comics will get the boot after this first week.
Monday, July 19: All 10 finalists return to the stage, but only seven will advance and perform that morning for a live audience, for broadcast that evening. America votes after the broadcast.
Monday, July 26: Of the seven remaining, five will advance and perform that morning for a live audience, for broadcast that evening. America votes after the broadcast.
Monday, Aug. 2: The final five will be reduced to an as-yet unknown final group, who will perform that morning for a live audience, for broadcast that evening. America votes after the broadcast.
Monday, Aug. 9: NBC's season finale. A winner is revealed, with a $250,000 prize and a network holding deal. Expect guest sets from each of the judges (Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo) plus other stand-up guests.
"Welcome to Last Comic Standing, the best stand-up comedy contest on NBC." So sayeth host Craig Robinson, so sayeth we all.
Wait. Who's running the show, a bunch of monkeys? A lone chimpanzee? What's going on here?
I'll be sure to tell you all as soon as I can watch the rest of this two-hour episode -- and update with videos as soon as they're up. This is the episode in which Tommy Johnagin zings judge Natasha Leggero for calling him competitive in a nationally-televised competition.
Alabama native Roy Wood, Jr., meanwhile, says before taking the stage that he has been at stand-up for 12 years, and well, why not him? "It's my turn to eat. Let me get some of this money." Why not? He opens with a joke about a date so bad, the woman makes you drop her off at another man's house. Damn. That's a bad date. But a good joke. He also has a funny story about trying to write out his will. Good start! The judges agree, from Andy Kindler to Leggero and also Greg Giraldo. Looking good for Mr. Wood. Even if he could not find a coat that fits to impress Giraldo.
After the first commercial break, Robinson has more self-deprecating quips up his sleeve. He's enjoying the gig, and I am enjoying him in this gig. Great work, team comedy! Now about this Fortune Feimster. She lets us know she is a lesbian (shhh, don't tell anyone), which is odd when she tells us about this guy who hit on her. This story, alas, does not have a happy ending. Kindler gets in a dig on Ellen DeGeneres for her dancing, and digs on Feimster. The other judges likewise smile fortune upon Ms. Fortune. Jerry Rocha says he does not want to be depressed for months if he does not win. Onstage Rocha wonders why any billboard about carpooling would be in Spanish, and whether it's a good idea to call to get his credit checked. There is some quibbling in judgment about his use of voices and races, but they seem to be more positive than negative.
Another break, and we're back with Guy Torry, who has been in the movies and on the TV, but according to Torry, they don't know about his stand-up comedy career. He wants to let the people know he is funny. Scratch that. "I'm trying to be the greatest, the greatest stand-up to ever touch the stage." Whoa, whoa. Settle down. It's good to set the bar high and all, but when you say something like that out loud, to a TV camera, usually you're setting yourself up for failure. He is taking a while to get to the laughs when he does not have a headlining amount of stage time tonight, and not only that, but when Torry says "negro," camera cuts to Giraldo squirming. Torry is talking a lot about Barack Obama and has a bit about why the KKK supporting Obama. Oh, and I almost forgot. Torry also used a Monica Lewinsky joke. In 2010. Afterward, he seems to think he crushed and also is not concerned about whatever Leggero has to say. And about that bet Torry wanted to make with Giraldo, in which he said Google the KKK supporting Obama? Torry won't want to click on the first link that comes up. Jacob Sirof wants us to know he has a wife and a kid and not much money from the comedy -- that's the opposite of what Torry was boasting -- and opens with a bit about how L.A. people are into the motorcycles these days, even if it means buying gay clothing. Not that he's got a problem with that, considering his stance on bros hugging bros. Nice tag, btw, on the "Google it" from Torry afterward. Then we see him, Torry and Maronzio Vance chatting backstage, and Torry says he had more fun bantering with the judges. Somehow I don't think he'll be having as much fun later that evening.
Nikki Glaser says she will cry whether she makes it to the finals or not. Foreshadowing? Glaser says she is single and recently performed for the troops, just for the applause breaks. She became single over Skype, on her terms. She also makes an unusual choice by promoting teen pregnancy and joking about getting an abortion. I'm not sure the primetime network suits will be on board with that, no matter what the judges may say. Taylor Williamson says he is charming and adorable, and well, wouldn't you know the audience is laughing at him as soon as he speaks, and then throughout his set, because they cannot believe his premise that he has a girlfriend, and then even laugh again when he admits he doesn't. Williamson also jokes about sex, but between animals (black poodles and white labs, camels). Everyone enjoyed it.
Hey, look everybody. It's Tom Shillue in an ad for PearleVision! Did you know he was in this semifinal round, too? No? What do you mean no?