OK, so we’re in Las Vegas to whittle the first group of 438 semi-finalists down to a more manageable 10. Five of them will come from tonight’s show, the other four will be chosen next week during another two hour, eighteen Applebee’s commercial episode.
Host Bill Bellamy describes tonight’s program as “an international battle like we’ve never seen before” which, for some reason, makes me think of “Street Fighter II”. I’m pretty sure Chun Li is more entertaining than some of these people, with or without the pigtails. Bill Bell comes onstage with a group of feather-and-wing wearing dancers and I’m immediately disappointed that he’s not rocking the same costume. He is, however, wearing a jacket made of aluminum foil.
He launches into some jokes about Joan Rivers being old and Barry Manilow having plastic surgery and it has to be hard for the host to realize that he couldn’t make it on his own show.
Tonight’s judges are perpetually sunglassed Richard “Law Hearts Order” Belzer (who gets a standing ovation, probably for not coughing a lung out onto the audience) and Steve “I Was Never Invited to Pose on the DVD Box” Shirripa from The Sopranos. On to the comedy. First up is New York’s own Adam Hunter who immediately tells the camera that he didn’t come here to lose, he came to win. He apparently understands opposites. In his 3 minute set, he covers the election, President Harry Potter, Asian men in porno films, peace in the Middle East, Muslim Mardi Gras, homeless people, telling his family he was gay just to see what would happen, therapy, and bad credit. Wow. This was like the comedy version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Richard and Steve both liked him and I have to agree. By the end of the show, I realized he was the best of the night.
Next is Phil Palisoul, he of the bald head and unfortunate red soul patch. He scratches his face non-stop and hitches his set to the idea of having an international “I’m a jackass symbol” that he makes above his head. He does several callbacks to the symbol and none of them work any better than when he introduced it. He did at one point produce a coin purse from his pocket and I’m not sure that was really a prop. He concluded by telling the crowd they were “dynamite” and he prolly should’ve been making the symbol then.
Enter Jeff Dye and his fluorescent yellow shirt. His first joke doesn’t work so he tells the crowd “that’s a joke”. He launches into a bit about taking ecstasy at the gym and is, again, met by silence. His entire set is about the gym, which is maybe a bit risky. He’s not recording a CD where he needs 3:40 to fill up track four so they can call it “Gym Shorts” on the liner notes.
Things pick up when he does a breathy impression of a woman working out in shorts that say JUICY across the arse. Perhaps because he turned their attention to his own, um, back patio, all the women stand up to clap for him, even though most of them are older than Bill Bellamy’s Wayne Newton jokes.
The first chick of the night is Erin Foley, who’s wearing an unfortunate denim on denim outfit, a look that worked briefly during Smokey & the Bandit but not before and never since. She equates the acid in orange juice with the acid that guy from the Widespread show tried to sell you and talks about hallucinating during a baby shower. It’s not going well so far. She also covers the ingredient list on a bag of carrots, book clubs where they only read the dictionary, and really doesn’t get a reaction until she does an impression of herself as a sideline reporter at a football game. I’m disappointed… I really wanted her to be stellar.
Dan Naturman is next. I can’t focus on his first bit because he’s too busy pronouncing the word “in-ter-net” and I’m thrown by the additional emphasis on the middle syllable. He does coax a laugh out of me when he skewers prescription drug commercials that say “ask your doctor about Prevacid”. To that, he says “He’s the doctor. Shouldn’t he already know about it?” which I thought was clever. Unfortunately, the rest of the time he’s just so damn loud I kind of think he should be trying to sell me a Kia.
Our first international comic is Israel’s Lioz Shem Tov, a prop comic whose set is insanely hard to write about. He does impressions of Mickey Mouse taking Viagra, an astronaut in the bathroom, and either a turtle or a man taking a massive shit. Of everyone we’ve seen so far, he would be simultaneously the most fun and the most annoying to invite to a party.
Our next international comic is Dale Jones, who has come from Planet Cracker Barrel. He says the word “nookie” more times in three minutes than anyone this side of Limp Bizkit and then does a pig squeal sound. That’s all you need to know.
After yet another commercial break, we have Erin Jackson who says she’s looking forward to doing “famous black people stuff” like marrying a white woman, a comment that is rewarded with a reaction shot of black audience members. When–during a tooth fairy bit–she says “When I lost a tooth, all I got was a bigger tooth”, I was ready to become her white trophy wife. Love her.
The first novelty act is God’s Pottery, the Christian acoustic duo of Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb who are playing these characters straight enough to audition for a Christopher Guest movie. They sing a song called “The Pants Come Off When the Ring Goes On”. It’s not that entertaining until they almost make a hymen joke. THEN it’s…um…still not that funny. If I have to see them again, I’ll set a Precious Moments figurine on fire.
Coming to the stage dressed like Carlton Banks is Ron G, where the G stands for “God Knows How He Made it This Far”. He calls the crowd “party people” and I’m immediately cranky. He follows by doing the most annoying “character” voice this side of Fran Drescher to illustrate being fired, when his mother hits him, and when a cop pulls him over. Cut to reaction shots of bored-looking black people.
Drennon Davis opens by saying he has a catch phrase, “Who put that in the muffin house?” He’s going to watch this later and hate himself.
Canada’s twitchy, voice-affected favorite Winston Spear is next. He talks about car insurance and bike locks and talking to the bank, which makes his set sound like a conversation with my parents…if one of them had Tourette’s and wore a necklace shaped like a guitar pick.
Enter London’s own Shazia Mirza, who dusts off those old comedy chestnuts, blowing up planes and references to abortions. Also, I’m not sure if she mentioned it, but she’s Muslim. Muslim? Muslim! Muslimuslimuslim.
Another Brit, Paul Foot, is next. He can’t be that excited about the $250,000 prize because that’s, like, 14 British pounds. He moves like a marionette and dresses like a scarecrow but the boy is funny. Bizarre, but funny. I was hooked from his opening line, “I may not be the world’s best lover, but I am a dangerous driver”.
No one seemed to enjoy Andi Smith, whose voice would still sound ridiculous even if it were coming from the mouth of an animated hippo. She opens with a quip about playing a half-empty club in West Virginia and asking the crowd “Where’s everybody else, trapped in a mine?” Regional disaster humor is always a favorite. Hopefully, she’ll have the opportunity to play an empty club in Iowa so she can alienate some Midwesterners by asking if the rest of them are doing the backstroke in their basements.
For the record, I would have sex with any or all of the Meehan Brothers, as long as they didn’t make me watch their show first. Show me a woman that says pantomiming and puns are her turn-ons, and I’ll show you a dirty, dirty liar.
The semi-finalists this week were Adam Hunter (who was so far ahead of the competition, he should be tested for Winstrol), Paul Foot (my second fave), Jeff Dye (Meh.), God’s Pottery (Excuse me as I shatter this cherub in protest), and…Ron G (What a joke. No, um, pun intended).
Until next week, fill out your comment card on your table top and don’t forget to tip your waitress.