***Note from the Editor: Please welcome the newest member of the TVgasm family, Ms. GordonShumway!
So we’re two shows deep into the sixth season of Last Comic Standing and this week’s ep starts in front of a fake brick wall at the LA Improv because everyone is funnier in front of a brick wall, except for maybe the Kool Aid man. Bill Bellamy literally steps off of an LCS-emblazoned short bus (I’ll take “Poor Transportation Choices” for $1000, Alex), puts a Seacrestian pause between the words “This” and “is Last Comic Standing”, and an animated graphic of either a microphone or a radiator whizzes onto the screen to let us know that the time has come for JOKES.
This two-hour show features auditions from Los Angeles and Houston with Oscar Nunez and Angela Kinsey from The Office judging talent in Cali while Houston gets Neill Flynn from Scrubs and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air‘s own Alfonso Ribeiro, who looks like he has recently consumed Aunt Vivian #1 and Aunt Vivian #2. That’s a timely celebrity selection, NBC. Rue McClanahan must have been busy.
We kick off the LA segment with the obligatory misfit montage and Bill Bellamy makes conversation with an odd, twitchy looking group of people who has been standing outside for days either to audition or, quite possibly, because they are homeless. Tip your waitress and follow me after the jump…
I almost changed channels when my favorite would-be comedian, Count Smokula, didn’t get a second set despite wearing a cape and a leopard print fez, painting his face and playing the accordian. THAT’S COMEDY GOLD, NUNEZ! The jokers that did perform at the LA Improv’s second round showcase were:
Ron G: His audition bit referred to his girlfriend as “The Dreamcatcher” and involved a monotone ESPN interview with said Dreamcatcher. A long interview. We get it, G. Women rob you of your will to live…but so did this bit. During the second set, he closed with a Mexican joke and riffed on thugged out dudes in the club who want to fight until “their jam” comes on. He also only tucks his shirt in halfway. I didn’t really dig him. Is it inappropriate to refer to a black guy as being too vanilla?
Dana Eagle: She reminded me of Dawn Weiner: The College Years. Her audition set made me wonder what was edited out, because other than hinting about sleeping with Oscar, I didn’t titter once. At the showcase, she compared the sight of a thong peeking out above a low-cut waistband to her own cotton full-cut panties exploding over her cords like a mushroom cloud. WE HAVE OUR FIRST PROP COMIC! And we also have a visual representation of why her social calendar will remain as barren as Oprah’s womb. Actually, I liked her style and think that she’ll probably get some gigs out of this. Good on her.
Next stop: Guinea pig on Shear Madness
Amber Tozer: She gets her own backstory vignette where she confesses that she sells (quite possibly flammable) mattresses on Craigslist. She dresses like Rusty from Christmas Vacation and does a wordy bit about her mom prying into her life and finding out that she was a lesbian for an hour at a Halloween party because (wait for it…wait for it…) SHE WAS MARTINA NAVRATILOVA FOR HALLOWEEN! Know what’s hilarious? 1980s tennis icons.
Adam Richmond: HE LIKES YELLING. His audition had something to do with why we developed a system of time after Jesus died and his performance was just as entertaining as that sentence makes it sound. Again, I assume that he did something spectacular that only Angela and Oscar got to see or maybe he just skated through on his rep as an Improv regular?
Dos Spanish Flies: A two man musical act that combines everything that you love about beat poetry, Weird Al Yankovic, and eating at Don Pablo’s. They also combine everything you hate about beat poetry, Weird Al, and eating at Don Pablo’s. They sang a song about farting. They rhymed “fart” with “start” and the only sound audible over the flamenco guitar was Angela Kinsey grinding her teeth into a fine powder.
Chris Fairbanks: He is from Montana and has great delivery. He auditioned by talking about his awkwardness with handshakes. It wasn’t the greatest joke, but he sold it well, which sums up his entire set. Though if this show was called “Last Sweet-Ass Hoodie”, his name would already be written on a comically oversized check.
Look! I’m Felicity Huffman!
Jacob Sirof: He shows off his multiple Star Wars tattoos, explains the difference between a geek and a nerd, and riffs on Buddy Holly, a reference sure to enrapture the show’s target 18-34 year old audience. Too bad his second set–complete with “no fat chicks” jokes–didn’t earn him a trip to the semi’s because I would’ve loved to have heard some cutting edge satire about the Big Bopper.
Erin Foley: She mused about locksmiths why they’re always cranky because their equipment sounds like REEREEEERERIIIIRIIEEEE. I think she got the ticket just so they wouldn’t have to hear that sound again, since it has Ark of the Covenant-style face melting properties. She got a lot of screen time for her showcase set, which was shaky at first (Mississippi digs the statutory rape, yo) but finished strong with a bit about Wachovia bank’s “we’re absolutely obsessed with customer service slogan” that was, quite possibly, better advertising for the bank than their shitty commercials.
Jackie Kashian: I admit it, I didn’t initially dig her but during the second round, I learned that she’s my fave type of comic: the stellar writer who has excellent stage presence. She had a great set about Civil War reenacters that included the phrases “dork forest”, “hard tack with weevils in it”, and “Jackie Kashian puts out for pelts”. She reminds me of Kathleen Madigan (although K-Mad is a bit more fashion forward) which can only be a good thing. My all-around favorite.
Eddie Pepitone: He’s a shouter, an “I remember Sam Kinison” kind of shouter. He wears a newsboy cap backwards. His teeth look like they all raced from the back of his mouth to the front, colliding in the most violent way possible and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he smells like salty meat. But he’s funny. He did a shouted rap (complete with obligatory camera shot of a black audience member laughing) and it involved anti-depressants and his cats. I’m pulling for this guy.
Although this one’s gonna be hard to beat.
Ruby Wendell: My notes were “She’s a hugger. Hugs aren’t funny”. She talked about auditioning for a Valtrex commercial and how she’d “never wanted herpes so bad”. Meh. To her credit though, she (and Amber Tozer) are true “amateur” comics and–unlike several other second setters including Buddy Holly–she hasn’t appeared on Comedy Central or late night TV. That makes me like both of them a lot and hope they can ride this bit of pub for a while.
Ben Gleib: He compares women and fire. Angela liked him, Oscar wasn’t impressed. Angela could’ve been overcome with his t-shirt and blazer combination. Since he’s dressed like the headshot of every early ’90s comic, he HAS to be funny, right? Right? He had a few obvious punches about computer viruses and “Girls Gone Wild” and if someone had offered me a $5 pitcher of Bud, it could’ve been an open mic at Mr. Chucklepants’ Comedy Hut. After googling these people (not a euphemism), it seems the ones with the most acclaim are the ones I liked the least.
Jennifer Murphy: She giggled through her entire set and said she wears two shirts because she sweats a lot. That’s all I could even think about.
Esau McGraw: WE HAVE A YELLER! And also a fantastic name for a Neo-Christian country singer.
Meghan Hounshell: She played acoustic and sang a song about vaginas. She’s probably very popular at Borders bookstores.
What? No vag songs? NEXT!
Avi Liberman: I really liked his delivery. Every interview with Angela talked about how she was looking for a “polished” set and this guy was smoother than a freshly waxed baby. I’m not sure if his set was too El Lay though. He told jokes about comedy. He told jokes about Los Angeles. But he won a bit of my heart with a line about how if a teacher notes that you’re creative on your report card, it just means you can’t do math. It’s funny because it’s true. Sob.
The semifinalists from Los Angeles were Erin Foley, Ron G, Eddie Pepitone, and Jackie Kashian. In my head, Jackie is the best of the show. I was a bit surprised by Ron G’s call up–Amber, Avi, and even Jacob had stronger sets–but Google told me that he’s played on Bill Bellamy’s “Who’s Got Jokes?” show. Cross-promotion? Conspiracy? You make the call.
A quick note to the participants: You’re not supposed to cry when you’re not chosen. You’re supposed to blog about it.
The second hour kicks off in Houston, where some of the early auditioners don’t understand that doing impressions (of Mike Tyson, Robin Williams, or a Charo-stripper hybrid creature) don’t make you a comedian.
The performers who rocked it to the second round were:
Chris Voth: His audition set was the stuff email forwards are made of…commentary on coke dealers using the metric system and why mimes don’t cry at funerals. His late-night set was fresher, with a bit about joggers finding dead bodies that made me laugh if only because I work in a running store and this happens more often than you think. According to his blog,he was actually selected and then un-selected as a semi-finalist. He’s handling it better than I would’ve, choosing to respond with a few disappointed-sounding paragraphs rather than, say, setting small fires.
Paul Varghese: He talks about being Indian and about their comically over-consonanted surnames. Here’s where Randy Jackson would say “Naw, it was just a little pitchy, dawg. I just didn’t feel it”.
This was my face.
Andi Smith: OK, picture the recently deceased character of Amber from TV’s House. Now give her an odd inflection to her words and an indecipherable accent. Have her refer to dating short guys as like “having a penis on a keychain” and try not to think of how disappointed Dr. James Wilson would be. Anyway. I liked her. Quirky, but not in a bad or “I’m trying soooo hardl” or “I shop at Wet Seal” way.
Keisha Hunt: Another of Bill Bellamy’s comics, she opened with a joke about Morgan Freeman. Neil Flynn said he didn’t like her material but he could’ve just said “We don’t care for black people”. She somehow skipped through to the second show and talked about smoking weed, complete with “bring the joint to your mouth and inhale deeply” hand gestures. Keisha didn’t learn that users never win and winners never use.
Bob Biggerstaff: First, what an awesome name if you’re a dude. I hope he has EVERYTHING monogrammed because I totally would. It seemed like the judges just needed one joke–the conflict of his father getting Lou Gehrig’s disease but hating the Yankees–to send him through to the second round. He talked about self-checkout at the grocery store and everyone in the crowd was nodding because either they’re familiar with this system or they like to hear a fat guy talk about buying food.
Mark Agee: He made a Flashdance reference. YES. If I were a judge, I would’ve thrown my ovaries on the stage right there. He labored during the second show, dragging out a setup seemingly only to get to the line that if a vegetarian gets eaten by an animal, it dies of irony.
Danny Rios: When you close your interview with the phrase “I’m creepy” while displaying the worst set of teeth this side of the Elizabethan age, we know we’re in for a good time.
Billy D. Washington: He opened with a runaway slave joke (which made me spray a mouthful of Cookie Crisp onto my keyboard) but lost me when he said he “thought Hamlet was a small pig”. Right. I remember that one from a Laffy Taffy wrapper.
Saleem Muhammad: He was my favorite out of Houston. He described his personal trainer as being “veiny and shiny and wet and wrong” which is now my current Facebook status.
Sarah Tollemache: Video games ruin relationships. So does watching two straight hours of this show.
I’d pay five dollars to see this dude run into a wall.
I wasn’t sure how they were going to select four semi-finalists out of the Texas group and apparently the judges didn’t know either. Only Andi Smith and Bob Biggerstaff got the Red Envelope, which means either they’re going to the Semi’s in Las Vegas or they just got a Macy’s gift certificate.
Until next week, you’re GordonShumway and I’ve been a great audience.