In real life, maybe you audition a few months ago for a comedy competition that's going to be televised everywhere in America and beyond. Maybe your audition goes well. Maybe it goes well enough that you get asked to perform again at a live audience showcase, and then that goes well enough that you receive a red-ticket envelope to perform again in Hollywood. So maybe, just maybe, you're excited to see yourself on television and so are your friends, family and loved ones. So what happens when you and they turn on the TV and, an hour later, are wondering, did we and they blink and miss you? Hold that thought.
Because we're living by TV producers' rules. And in Last Comic Standing's seventh season, even when they say it's not business as usual, it's still show business. Last week, they edited the New York City auditions together to allow some comedians to get better treatment than they should have, while putting others in the background to tease you. What's doing for round two in NYC?
Well, first, host Craig Robinson tells us what happened previously on LCS, which was that nine comedians received tickets to the semifinals. Wait a minute! Nine??? That cannot be right, no matter how you edit it, because they let 12 people through on the night I watched live and in person, and apparently another 12 in the other showcase, so already, you and I know that there are going to be some comedians who were happy a few months ago, but who are going to be much less happy tonight.
Cue the actual and the artificial tension!
Brian McKim -- for people born before the Y2K bug wiped out the first version of the Internet, you may know him as "The Male Half" of Shecky Magazine -- gets the first uncredited one-liner of the evening, followed by a montage of comedians we should expect to be seeing later in the hour. By the way, if anyone has been watching all of the pre-season promos, Robinson is sneaking in his proposed catchphrase mantra for the season: "Be about it!"
We officially start the night off with Jerry Rocha, from Dallas, who says he has been a professional stand-up for eight years, and vows to hug anyone and everyone if he doesn't advance. He jokes with the judges about his racist uncle who doesn't quite get racial jokes. Our judges are given the superimposed title of "Comedy Jurist" this evening, which sounds much more foreboding than before, when they were judges. Now they're judges and jury? Me no get it. But me still likey Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo, so me no stop recapping. Calise Hawkins apparently is from Illinois (I know her as a Jersey girl, where she lives now, while you simply know her as a single mother with a big Afro!), and she takes us into her home with her daughter, and how adorable are they? Kindler isn't a big fan of her material about a homeless guy on the subway, but he and Giraldo both think she's a good performer, and Leggero enjoyed it, so Hawkins gets another chance to perform. Mike Vecchione jokes about his New York City cop look, and I know and you know and we know that he is funny, and even Leggero, who happened to see Vecchione the other night at the Comedy Cellar agrees. Who wants a pretzel?
Zed is the future of stand-up comedy? Somebody better tell Ron Lynch about this competing comedy robot. "Is this a character you're doing?" Giraldo asks. A woman has a whip on the sidewalk. For some reason. Kindler talks about clowns and jugglers, and jokes about all comedians starting out as novelty acts. You remember Lenny Bruce the sword swallower, right? Kindler prefers seeing a comedian sweat. Take that, deodorant ad!
Kyle Grooms doesn't have to worry about that. He did an Obama impersonation in the early TV ads for this season, and he does it for the judges, too. Giraldo says he is not a fan of impersonations but knows that that's not a big part of Grooms' act, so no worries. He's through.
What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl yesterday, and to celebrate, I bring you a look at another stand-up comedian making the transition from Bourbon Street to the Big Apple. Get to know the wry comedic stylings of Mark Normand.
Name: Mark Normand
Arrival date: Aug. 25, 2007
Arrived from: New Orleans, Louisiana (Go Saints!)
When and where did you start performing comedy? The first time I ever did stand-up was in Lafayette, Louisiana, three hours from New Orleans. I was a waiter at a Mexican restaurant in college and a co-worker there did stand up and I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. He mentioned he was doing a spot one night in Lafayette and I asked if I could drive him. When we got there I put my name on the list and spent all the money I had on getting completely sauced and did a set. I bombed and ran the light so bad that they cut my mic and turned on the music. I remember the host did that joke: "Please turn off your cell phones and beepers. And if you still have a beeper. get with it!!" I thought that was brilliant! The hosts name was 'Special Ed'. Then eventually I started doing mics in New Orleans and that's where I met all the New Orleans Jews we all know today.
What was your best credit before moving here? Hmmm...I guess the biggest thing I'd done before I moved here was open for Tom Rhodes at One Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter. One Eyed Jacks is that type of venue where all the fun "indie" shows happen, every city's got one. It was the scariest show I'd ever done at that point. A huge room, cocktail waitresses, a balcony, even a green room!!! Not to mention, it's the first time my parents would see me perform. I also thought Tom Rhodes would immediately sign me and ask me to tour with him but I couldn't even get him to talk to me because he was too busy doing coke off a key backstage. The most I got out of him was a story about how Louie Anderson tried to seduce him.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I'd lived here before in 2006 because I went to film school at NY Film Academy. I lived in a two-bedroom in midtown with four Indian guys and loved it. I was really bummed when I had to move back. So after I started getting really into stand-up and talking with some other comics about the big move, LA wasn't even an a thought for me. To me, New York is where you get good and LA is that place you go when someone asks you to. I love New York.