Welcome to this week’s ep of Last Comic Standing, where Bill Bellamy breathlessly announces that this is the final week of US auditions. That means that they’ll finally be opening this contest up to those zany Balkan comedians we all love! I just hope this doesn’t bring an end to BillBells’s city-themed costumes. For tonight’s Nashville segment, he rocked a sequin shirt and cowboy hat and it made me wish that for the Minneapolis shows he would’ve dressed as a harsh, unyielding winter. That, or Diablo Cody.
Come on BillBell, you definitely have the rump to pull this off.
Tonight’s opening montage features more than one ventriloquist. This promises to be a good time and by “good time”, I mean “enhanced by over-the-counter medications”. We’re kicking off the komedy in Minneapolis with judges Kate Flannery and Brian Baumgartner who you may recognize as the rabid woman and the guy with the tiny eyes from NBC’s The Office.
There may be a precipitous drop in my snark level for this post, since–in my head, at least–the Minny crowd was the best audition group of the year. The comics that made it to the p.m. show were:
Pete Lee: He is adorable. Seriously, I want to have adopt his children. His audition set was about his lack of tough guy qualities, a bit that got a guffaw from Brian. During the late show he riffed on the Snopes-ish myth that you could crush a car by dropping pennies from the Eiffel tower, then suggested we drop coins instead of bombs during our wars because we’d be “bringing change to the middle east”. I adore him. Confidential to Pete Lee: Call me. I like to snuggle.
How can you not love a man who can make this hoodie work for him? It’s rare, people. RARE.
Alex Thomas: He has a solid audition about clubbers who keep dancing until time for work, getting a full snicker out of me when he says that he sees the Fed Ex guy “who has to be at work in ten minutes” dancing behind him. Unfortunately, his second set seemed flat, with some lamery about giving three parts to your address when you live in New York. Meh.
Dan Cummins: He gets his own feature segment about his Scandinavian heritage. He also wears a Viking helmet, like Flava Flav with 90% less crazy. His audition was great. He said his wife is a real vegetarian, not a vegetarian who says they also eat chicken. If that’s you, he said, “you’re not a vegetarian. You’re a liar”. I like him so much, and not just because he has such shiny hair. At the showcase, he invents his dream pet, the Squirrelador, combining the best traits of both squirrels and Labrador retrievers. Loved it enough that I flapped my hands and squealed.
Doug Mellard: He goes to gay bars and tells people how gay they look. He also has some kind of weeping skin rash, although that wasn’t considered during the audition. His nighttime set was about people who own those “Wipe your paws” door mats. He wasn’t bad… he just picked the wrong city for his audition.
But he doesn’t look gay, so good for him.
Dave Landau: How can his wife get him to run? By telling him she’s pregnant. What a coincidence. How can he get me to run? By telling me he’d like to have sex.
Tim Harmston: This guy has a really unique style. He set up a bit about online dating services by explaining that they matched him with someone who likes horses but he likes to punch horses at the fair. During round 2, he made one of the most awkward “I’m trying to save this joke even though it was met with crickets and tumbleweeds” expressions I’ve ever seen. Here’s guessing that bit about the guy with a beard made of bees is never spoken of again. Still, I’d like to see more of him. Same for Doug Mellard.
Darlene Westgore: Another backstory. She’s a waitress. And her name is Darlene, a name that looks lovely when it’s embroidered on a shirt. During her two sets, she references weed twice and mentions dropping acid once. She’d best hope her local police precinct doesn’t watch NBC. She also wins the 17th Annual Edie McClurg Minnesota Accent Award for drawing out her vowels like guitar solos.
John Evans: He looks exactly like Count Chocula, an observation that made me laugh at my own cleverness until I learned that apparently he knows it. His audition about shoplifting at Goodwill was fantastic, as was the showcase bit about being willing to pay his wife to watch porn. He was also gutbusting enough to earn a beep from the network censors.
Tracey Ashley: Her mom told her to do what makes her happy. Her mom has a mental illness. There’s a HILARIOUS syllogism in there somewhere.
Who doesn’t like wack moms?
Carl Lee: I dug his audition. He did some misdirection quips about digging single mothers just for their cereal selections. His late night set was all road comedy though… “Who’s been to Killeen, Texas? Anybody? Anybody? What about Wichita?” Sigh.
Seriously, this was the best audition city ever. Pete Lee, John Evans, and Dan Cummins all got the red ticket to Vegas, but you could’ve argued that Doug Mellard deserved a shot too. Unlike Canada, where the “famous” comics rode their reps rather than their jokes, these three guys who have all attained a moderate kind of “satellite radio and syndicated morning show” success also had great sets at the audition.
By contrast, we have Nashville. The celebrity judges were George “Norm” Wendt and John “Three Men Who Have Never Been in My Kitchen” Ratzenberger. I can’t believe these two were free.
Everybody knew your name. Once.
The lineup for the showcase looked like the waiting room at your local Urgent Care. What an, um, interesting crowd. Those slightly unhinged-looking comics were:
Dale Jones: OK, he had me when he claimed that well water is what killed the dinosaurs, since their tiny little arms couldn’t reach the pump. Well played, Mr. Jones. That night he did a tired-ish bit about Deliverance: The Musical but was overall pretty damn funny, even though I wouldn’t want to sit beside him on an airplane. Interestingly, on his bio he claims to have been in the movie Out of Time with Denzel Washington but I can’t find a record of him at all, unless he had a lower billing than “Woman in Lobby” or “Beach Partier”…and if that’s true, why would this be something you’d pimp on your website?
Mary Mack: Holy crap. If Fiona Apple gave up both piano ballads and eating, you’d have this girl. AND HER VOICE, IT PAINS ME. If I saw something like her wandering around outside, I’d capture it and keep it until it gave me three wishes.
Keith Alberstadt: He was such an obnoxious kid, his mother salted the rim of her coffee mug on the first day of school. I’ve heard him before and he’s insanely good–and a prolific joke writer–but that didn’t quite translate during the audition.
Heath Hyche: OK, he’s wearing football jersey with a dummy behind him, groping his own junk. He has a pre-recorded football announcer. And now he’s doing Tae Bo to music. Um. Where exactly are the jokes?
Pat Godwin: He auditions with an impression of U2′s Bono singing about Bingo the Dog. Freaking hilarious and spot on. But his second set? About Irish people drinking. Now, I enjoy stereotypes as much as the next person, but when he broke out the phrase “Drink your beer, there are sober kids in China” it wasn’t any funnier coming from him than it was on my former roommate’s t-shirt. In 1997.
This guy was robbed. At least he has his dignity…
Killer Beaz: He’s perfect for anyone who finds Jeff Foxworthy a bit too pedantic ’cause he’s practically the No Collar Comedy Tour, what with his stonewashed jeans and liberal use of the phrases “young ‘uns” and “grew up in Alabama”. I can’t decide if he would kill at Wal-Mart or be killed at Wal-Mart.
Taylor Mason: I CAN SEE YOUR MOUTH MOVING.
Erin Jackson: I liked her from her opening line, “I can’t sing… I’m just a plus sized black woman”. Her second set skewered her roommate who said she couldn’t be a stripper just because of the high heels. She’s definitely the best of Nashville, which is like saying that ticks are the best of parasites. According to her blog, she was actually invited to audition and didn’t have to stand outside with the riff-raff ventriloquists.
Drew Thomas: Men and women? Totally different.
Sabrina Matthews: While I appreciate your lifestyle and relationship choices, I do wish you would’ve told jokes that didn’t make us picture you taking a bath.
The camera pans the comics–hello to all of those nervous-looking people who didn’t get TV time!–before B-Bell announces the four semi-finalists. Wait… FOUR? From HERE? I could see grabbing a fourth from Minnesota, but I don’t understand this. The envelope snatchers are Erin Jackson (LOVE her), Dale Jones, Heath Hyche (who is so perfect for Las Vegas, he should just move his damn end tables to the Stratosphere) and Mary Mack.
We’re only taking the doll. Sorry.
I don’t have a lot of regrets in life, save for the years between 22 and 28, but I’ll forever kick my own ass for not going to Nashvegas for this audition. I’d be willing to bet a box of Bisquick that I’d be on this show, instead of writing about it and giving myself daily reassurances myself that it was an excellent decision to try for America’s Got Talent instead.
Till next week, enjoy the veal.