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August 31, 2015

Last Comic Standing: Tempe

by Jay Black, posted Jul 12th 2007 1:01AM
LCS vs Jay Black in an all-out brawl. Who wins? Probably the logo.(S05E05) Tonight's episode took place at the Tempe Improv and despite the fact that it didn't look exactly like the old LA room, any fan of comedy had to get a little excited when they saw that brick wall and the big Improv letters attached to it. I felt like I was sucked right back into 1988 and I was watching what was, for me, one of the defining shows of my childhood: A&E's Evening at the Improv. The only thing that was missing was Bud Friedman introducing each comedian while wearing a ridiculous monocle.

The bad news tonight was that none of the comedians had the 80's comic uniform on: jeans, skinny-tie, and sports coat with the sleeves rolled up. I would have liked to see that.

The good news? Well, tonight's episode was actually kind of enjoyable...

Before we get to the nitty-gritty this week, I'd like to address a few issues people have had with my reviews:

1) Jay is a bitter comic who is jealous of the comics on Last Comic Standing. Yes, I am bitter, but it has less to do with my current career situation than it does that Kristy Thompson never wanted to go out with me in high school. My problems with the show are not related to the comics (I'm friends with many of them and am rooting for them) or my own absence from it (I never tried out for it so I don't know if they rejected me or not). I get angry each week because I feel that, at least in the early rounds, the show does not do a very credible job of presenting stand-up comedy to the audience.

That being said, I realize how annoying it might be for people to have to hear a professional constantly throwing his hands up during a show and screaming "that's not how it would happen!" I imagine it would be nearly impossible to watch House with a doctor or a porno with a pizza delivery guy. So, I'm going to try to do less complaining about how chopped up and ridiculous the early rounds are.

(I do feel a bit better that I'm not alone in my feelings about the show -- Patton Oswalt has a very funny and reasoned justification for why he hates the show in this week's AV Club interview.)

2) Your not reviewing the comedy of the comics feels like a cop-out. Yeah, yeah, I know. My bosses here at TV Squad have mentioned the same thing to me. As I've said before, I don't want to turn this into a weekly "That wasn't funny" column because having been a professional stand-up for nearly five years, I simply can't stand when someone makes a pronouncement of WHAT IS FUNNY as if they were watching God when you told the joke and He wasn't laughing.

I realize, though, that as we move into the latter rounds, I'm going to have to be more forthcoming in my opinions. I'm a little nervous about it (comedy gods and karma and all), but maybe it'll be healthy for me. After all, my relationship with my wife improved when I started communicating openly with her instead of saying everything was fine and then setting fire to our wedding pictures.

3) These reviews are too long. I'm sorry! It's not my fault! They gave me a forum to write whatever I want! Then they didn't edit me! I'm a ego-centric narcissist with good typing skills! I'm not made of stone!

But seriously, at least when it comes to comedy, I usually have a lot to say. I'm sure that if I had a little more time I could edit my bloated paragraphs into witty bon mots, but ever since I broke up with my old girlfriend Evie Garland, I've been hard-pressed to be able to stop time.

I am accepting applications to be my intern, however. If you like hard work, being yelled at, no money, and scalding hot coffee being thrown on you in response to a negative comment I received on my Clay Aiken post, shoot me an email and join the team!

Now, on to the review:

I really liked the fact that we got some breathing room this week. Spending an entire hour on one audition round rather than the previous habit of cramming two in per hour really opened up the show to allow for what it should be built on: stand-up comedy. We got to see more of the comic's sets and that's a good thing.

It also seemed like they cut back on the two most annoying aspects of the show: "bad comedy montages" and the judge's confessionals. So far as the former is concerned, I've already mentioned that a lot of them are suspiciously edited (taking one bad moment out of an otherwise good set) and are, I feel, out of place and disingenuous for a show where most of the comics that are moved through to the semi-final rounds are pre-screened anyway. As for the latter -- I just think the judges don't have any say in who gets moved forward, no real personality (it really says something when not a single one of them has the charisma of Randy Jackson, let alone Simon Cowell), and almost nothing constructive or interesting to say. You would have thought that three comics that made it deep into the show and are (at least in the case of Alonzo and Kathleen) funny and respected comedians would have at least one or two pithy put-downs. Alas, no.

I was a big fan of four comics tonight:

John Caparulo. He got the audience award and deserved it. I thought he did "blue collar comedy" the right way -- with knowing irony.

Dave Landau. He was very funny despite the fact that his shirt was so blue that my TV almost exploded trying to render the color properly. I was very disappointed he didn't make it into the next round. He had political jokes, but they weren't left-pandering (how do you get an applause break in a hip New York club? "Bush is stupid!' Yay!) I hope he gets something out of his four network minutes.

Greg Warren. I get the feeling that there will be two camps on the "No Neck Nick" routine. People are either going to hate it because it's repetitive and weird or absolutely love it because, well, it's repetitive and weird. I fall firmly into the latter camp. I'm a sucker for anyone who deviates from the standard stand-up script and I get the feeling that Greg Warren is going to be that guy. I'm anxious to see if the rest of his material is as different and funny as the stuff we saw tonight.

Chuck Roy. Anybody that can work an Alabama reference into his routine is okay in my book.

A couple of other notes before we get out of here:

-- Ant told Ryan Hamilton that Ryan was "the strangest-looking person that he has ever seen." A mean and slightly hacky comic would probably say that upon hearing this statement one can only conclude that Ant doesn't own a mirror. Since I am neither mean nor hacky, I won't be saying that.

-- Why do reality shows spend so much time previewing what we're about to see next? I mean, they filmed something like seven thousand hours of tape... howsabout letting us see a little more of what you actually filmed instead of constantly previewing what we'll see after the break or what's coming up next week?

Things were especially bad tonight. The last fifteen minutes had about two minutes of actual content in them. Joe DeVito's joke about "enjoying the little things, like the moment right between the first kiss and the pepper spray" was brilliant and very funny, but did we need to see it twice in the previews for next week? I'm sure I'm not alone when I say, please, LCS producers, you have tons of stand-up recorded and all the appropriate releases signed by the comics: SHOW US THE STANDUP! Even if they ran the full five minute set of the audience winner in the last segment, I think that would have worked as a better inducement to watch next week's episode than the heavily edited preview.

-- Is there any more superfluous job than the host of Last Comic Standing? Bill Bellamy couldn't be any more mailing this in than if he just filmed his intros and outros on his webcam. Do you think Down Town Julie Brown is screaming at her agent right now that she's just as qualified as Bill is to be hosting the show (in that she's a washed up former MTV personality and can speak English, which are, apparently, the only two requirements for the job)?

-- Did NBC really interrupt last week's show to give us fireworks? Is there anyone out there that is watching fireworks on TV? And if you are... why? Are the people that watch fireworks on TV the same ones that dive out of the way when they see a film of a train coming at them? Do they "ooh" and "ahh" at the fireworks at home the same why they do at the live shows? Are the suicide rates for people who watch fireworks on TV higher than the nation's average? Dammit, I need to know! This is the most intriguing question of the entire summer so far as I'm concerned.

-- I think we need an official moratorium on comics opening their show with, "I know what you're thinking, I look like <insert outlandish juxtaposition of two celebrities here>." It just reeks of something that you write after attending a comedy workshop. I found it interesting tonight that the producers chose to show us one comic stopped and sent home for doing a "I know what you're thinking" joke, then showed us Ryan Hamilton opening with almost the same joke to start his semi-final worthy set. Did anyone else catch that?

-- This is just a personal pet peeve... could women comics please stop talking about how much they hate skinny women? I realize that if you're a slightly overweight female comedian this might be a particularly rich vein of humor to mine, but really, seriously, please, it's enough now. We get it. Skinny women are vapid and concerned only with their looks and how those looks are perceived by men and when slightly overweight female comedians initiate conversation with them, they often have to set them straight with some slightly bitter, but ultimately dead-on bit of folksy wisdom (often ending in some sort of diminishing nickname like "honey" or "darling"). It's hilarious! But surely there are other things to talk about. Surely!

-- As always, for a different point of view, be sure to check out Shecky Magazine's coverage of tonight's episode here.

Okay gang, that's about enough for this week. I fully expect to upgrade this show from "difficult to watch" to "slightly less difficult to watch" next week when we get good comics performing longer sets. I'm actually looking forward to it and that's a good sign! As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

What was the best old-school stand-up comedy show?
Evening at the Improv18 (39.1%)
Caroline's Comedy Hour2 (4.3%)
MTV's Half Hour Comedy Hour4 (8.7%)
HBO's One Night Stand19 (41.3%)
Other (List in the comments)3 (6.5%)

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If you were'nt such an idiot you wouldn't get scathing e-mails pointing out your idiocy. Free Speech for you, but not for the rest of the world!!

You are an idiot!!

July 13 2007 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The best part of this week's episode? We're one week closer to the return of Mel Silverback! *chuckle*

July 13 2007 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Josh Blue (last years winner) and Chuck Roy used to have a show together at Denver's Comedy Works. I have seen them perform individual stand up on the same nights as well.

July 12 2007 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They probably also showed fireworks instead of LCS last week because they figured that a lot of people would actually be out of their house watching real fireworks on 4th of July instead of in their houses, watching fireworks or anything else. Which, before the advent of DVRs, would be a legitimate reason to show fireworks and not waste an episode, but hey, the networks are still learning.

July 12 2007 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jay...you're my new best friend! MAN, i used to LOVE me some Evie Garland!

...or would you rather be a pig?

July 12 2007 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

John Caparulo & Chuck Roy were my favorites this week. The Alabama 70s grammy haircut line was perfect.

One guy I just didn't get but I knew as soon as I saw him that he was going to get through was the *huge* black guy whos name I cannot remember. The guy just had nothing, except he was huge.. but I knew he'd get through.

One side note: Wasn't there more than 2 winners from the UK ? According to the promo it looked like 2 comedians from the UK.. I thought there were more.

July 12 2007 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nielsen ratings for the week ending July 8

8. Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks (NBC)

There should be no shortage of people to ask, since millions of people watched it. I didn't though.

July 12 2007 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that the female comics really need to diversify their acts a little more. I constantly hear about the supposed lack of truly funny female comics and I think this is a valid reason why. I love Kathleen Madigan's sense of humor and she's literally all over the place with her humor. The same goes for Lisa Lampanelli, April Macie and quite a few terrific female comics out there. I think that what happens is there is just an overwhelming ratio of male to female comics so proportionately we just see that few of truly funny women on stage.

I'm sure that many comics, male and female resort to the "easy" jokes when they get started. Your comments about "I know what you're thinking..." and the fat women vs. skinny women are perfect examples of that. Men are just as guilty but we see it less because there are such a large number of better comics out there instead. Touche for calling out the cheesy and uncreative ones out there. Hopefully that will encourage them to write better material instead of quitting the business entirely. It takes a lot of guts to get up on that stage in the first place. Why not make it worth your while to do so?

I can't agree more with you about the dynamics of this show though. We need MUCH better editing and a TON more comedy. Any time a show FEATURING comedy as its premise has this little comedy in it, well that's a problem. Lastly, I loved your idea about giving the audience favorite a little more time instead of the freaking redundant teasers/recaps they give us now.



July 12 2007 at 7:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If it makes you feel any better, Kristy Thompson was a horrid lay.

July 12 2007 at 6:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, I work at Downtown Julie Brown's agency, and no, we haven't heard from her... yet. :)

July 12 2007 at 4:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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