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August 29, 2014

Last Comic Standing: Semi-final round two

by Jay Black, posted Jul 26th 2007 12:02AM
Just a few more episodes and I'll be freeeeeeeeee!(S05E07) I'd like to open tonight's review by letting you all know that my wife and I had our first child this past Sunday. I'm telling you this up front so that you'll be forgiving of me if my review isn't up to the cracker-jack standards that you're used to. I'm operating on about one and a half hours of sleep and my entire house is literally covered in poop.

On the bright side, if I ever wind up on Last Comic Standing I can turn to the camera like every other comic and say, "I'm doing this for my son" while they play emotional music behind me.

Now, on to the review...

(Note: For some reason, TiVo decided that I'd like to watch America's Next Top Model tonight rather than LCS. Because of this, I missed the first five minutes of tonight's episode. I think all I missed was the laborious recap of the last six episodes, some really awful Bill Bellamy material, and the first thirty seconds of Larry Reep's act. I'll post an update tomorrow when NBC makes the episode available online. My apologies for a less-than complete review. Incidentally, I'm not mad at my TiVo. When you own a TiVo, you love it unconditionally!)

Here's a break down of each comic. As I mentioned last week, I'm only going by what NBC shows us and it bears repeating that a bad set here doesn't necessarily indicate a bad comic.

Fiona O'Loughlin

I'm watching the current episode pretty much in real-time and pausing to write each review, so I haven't seen the end of this episode as I write this. I'm going to predict that there's no way in hell that Fiona is going to move to the next round. When you do an audition set, you're showing the judges (or as I've said before, the producers) exactly what your on-stage "character" is. (I think this is a lot of the reason that comics that have more personality than jokes often get pushed through to the national stage faster than button-down comics who actually write. The former might not be funny, but you definitely know how to package them in a sitcom or a movie within 30 seconds of seeing them.)

Fiona's audition set included the following themes: incest, alcoholism, anorexia, and more incest. And that's the set she chose for her big splash on NBC. If that's her most presentable set, one can only imagine what the rest of her act will cover. She talks about the kinds of things that gives network executives heart attacks. For that reason, I don't think there's any chance we'll be seeing her in the final ten.

There's another reason I don't think she's going to get pushed through: I really liked her stuff and would have loved to have seen more of it. I've been noticing that there's a Murphy's Law principle at work here with the comics I enjoy the most.

Ryan Hamilton

I think the mark of a good comic is when as an audience member, you're all set to dislike him but he winds up making you laugh anyway. That was Ryan's set tonight. There's something about him that rubs me the wrong way (I think it's because he got through on that "son of Elaine and Jerry" joke when someone in the same episode was rejected for doing that exact kind of joke), but i wound up laughing at his set anyway.

And I know this is horrible to say, but does anyone else find him to be kind of weird looking? I don't mean ugly. He kind of looks like an android. If he doesn't win LCS, I fully expect him to be the winner of NBC's new summer reality show: Who Wants to be a Cast Member at Westworld?

Ryan Dee

I spent Ryan's entire act trying to figure out what his cadence reminded me of and it finally dawned on me at the end of his set: Bobcat Goldthwait. Seriously, take out the ridiculous screaming and you're left with Ryan Dee.

I thought his stuff was okay, but it covered some pretty well trod ground. Of the several flavors of molestation jokes floating around the clubs (ah, isn't stand-up comedy a grand job?), priest jokes are just a notch less common than Michael Jackson jokes. There's still some room for expansion with Chris Hanson jokes, though... I'm looking forward to see what will develop there.

Thea Vidale

She was likeable and I kind of enjoyed the Condi Rice joke, but other than that... I think that the next time I go to see Thea Vidale I'm going to not let her be herself. Every time she opens her mouth, I'm going to scream "be more like Oprah."

Dwayne Perkins

I thought Dwayne's act tonight was a lot like the mysterious neighbor from the first Home Alone movie. At first, it was scary and you wanted to run from it. By the end, though, you realized that what was at first something you feared actually wound up being fairly likeable and endearing. I was already yawning when he started talking about guy friends (though when he insulted women's talking, I thought it was hilarious that they flashed to his friends and family and even they looked a little offended), but I was legitimately laughing by the time he turned it into a mock interview session. I would have liked to see more of him to make a complete judgment.

Matt Kirshen

Damn. That kid is funny. He's almost annoyingly funny -- young, cute, original, hilarious. He might be the first person I'm actually jealous of on this show. Damn. I need to re-evaluate what I'm doing in this business. Seriously, I'm 31 and starting to gray. I've got a kid. I should just get out of comedy altogether. Maybe I'll become a professional beach treasure-hunter. I shall get a metal detector and I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. It'll probably pay better than my go-nowhere career in stand-up...

Uh, woops, okay, kind of went to a place there. Matt was seriously funny tonight and I'd love to see more of him in the next round.

Amy Shumer

NBC, what are you doing to me? I need to review this show and you're constantly cutting to wanna-be models in the LA audience wearing next to nothing. I really had some pithy things to say here, but they were completely wiped from memory due to loss of brain blood when the camera cut to a ridiculously hot girl in a shirt that would have gotten her banned from a public beach as late as 1951.

That being said, Amy was dirty-funny and cute in a Sarah Silverman way. In a lot of ways her set was almost as dark as Fiona's, but a lot more digestible because of the younger, perkier package. It's sad, because it should be about the funny, but as it's been pointed out, this show really isn't about the funny.

I really liked the fact that she made reference to Tom Arnold. There are very few "real moments" on LCS like you would see at a club because everyone is doing a set that is perfectly practiced and most people are too scared to deviate from that set. Amy did and I thought that was great.

Sean Rouse

Wow, NBC saved all the really dark acts for the second round of semi-finals! This was a brilliant set. I loved that he went after the conventions of reality shows and made a joke out of the fact that he wants to advance and is willing to do anything to make that happen. That's what comics do! They address what everyone in the room is thinking but are afraid to mention it.

By the way, if it seems that I'm finding all the dark sets funny, there's a good reason for this: comedians are usually drawn to that kind of material. It's not that we're naturally hateful people (though, full disclosure here, I'm naturally hateful), it's just that when you spend 50 weeks a year peddling happy-happy-joy-joy in GoNowhere, Nebraska, you yearn for something -- anything! -- that's different. Black humor is something that's rarely heard on the road for the very simple reason that most black comedy doesn't sell. So when we hear it, we get all happy in a way that normal audiences don't.

One last thing about Sean's set -- did anyone else feel sad that he had only one person in his "friends and family section"? I guess it could be interpreted as he wasn't taking all this seriously and wasn't going to invite three hundred people to come out and support him, but part of me wished he had just as many people there as everybody else. Maybe being a new father has made me hormonal.

LaVell Crawford

I once described to my non-comedy friends that getting an applause break feels about as good as the physical act of love. A standing-O is like that same physical act, except there are two girls there (one of them the girl NBC cut to during Amy Shumer's act).

This is our second full-blown standing-O of the competition and it's by far the more deserved of the two. While I'm still not a huge fan of any one-note comedians (I'm fat, I'm gay, I'm handicapped, etc. etc.) LaVell's one-note was at least listenable.

Greg Warren

I'm a Greg Warren fan. Having a joke long-form enough that his set tonight (admittedly cut by the crazy, half-blind editors employed in the dungeons of NBC) consisted entirely of it and nothing else is pretty amazing. My only concern with this kind of comedy is that it might become annoying over the long-haul. For right now, though, Greg certainly makes my top five.

Andi Smith

"My boss's name was Lou, which ironically, when spelled backwards is uollllll..." Um, that's not ironic, right? It's not dramatic irony, it's not verbal irony, and it's not situational irony. My only guess is that Alanis Morrisette helped write her jokes.

I'm going to sound very much like a pompous ass right now, but I think Andi is probably two or three years away from being really good. I think she's got a great character and some nice jokes, but I just don't think she's 100% fully developed her voice yet. I liked her stuff, but she wasn't quite hitting on all cylinders. My feeling is that she'll definitely be someone we'll hear from again in the future.

Arj Barker

I enjoyed the "wrong accent for this joke" part, but otherwise I was underwhelmed. I think it's probably because I think Arj is a really funny dude and I love what he's doing in Flight of the Conchords right now -- my expectations might have been way too high.

Chuck Roy

Again, NBC hurts a comic that I loved in the prelims with a butchering of his act. I swear his set was the shortest one we've seen tonight! I understand that the rest of his performance might have been hard to work into a convenient bite-sized portion, but what we saw of Chuck tonight can't be the best of what he showed to that crowd! I'm convinced of it, because he was so good in the earlier round.

It makes me long for what this show could have been if it was given the proper room to breathe -- imagine if the 32 semi-finalists were the only people we saw over the course of the first eight episodes. Instead of ridiculous American Idol rip-off "audition rounds", we got four comics per episode, eight minutes per comic. Out of those 32, America picks their favorite ten. Wouldn't that be a lot more fun? Wouldn't you laugh a lot more? If you've made it this far through my interminable review, you're obviously a comedy fan with more passion than brains so I say to you, get motivated! It's still not too late! Call your congressman and tell him to vote yes on HR-1325! If we all work together, we can make a difference.

Jane Condon

She's like the Dane Cook of mommy-comics, with all that energy and jumping around and stuff! And, uh, she's a mom and my wife just became a mom, so you know, I'm going to give her a pass tonight. She fakes sleep, I fake kindness. There, it all worked out for everybody.

Mel Silverback

I wonder about gimmick acts sometimes and how they feel about themselves... like, when they're putting on the gorilla mask for the 3000th time and they're walking out on the stage and they catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror and the realization that what they do for a living is get dressed like an ape and tell ape-jokes hits them like a bolt of lightening... do they die a little inside? Do they blink back a tear and whisper sadly that "the show must go on?" Do they tell themselves that they're an ironic meta-joke on the entire idea of stand-up comedy and fool themselves into believing that they're somehow groundbreaking or original? I could watch a nine-hour documentary on the guy playing Mel Silverback.

As for his comedy... does it even matter?

--

And your winners tonight:

Gerry
LaVell
Larry
Amy
Matt

Who got robbed:

Sean Rouse
Greg Warren

And that's it for tonight's exciting episode. I'm looking forward to reviewing the next phase of the competition for two main reasons: 1) I've a hope -- probably a misguided one -- that now we're down to the top ten we might actually see some real stand-up comedy (like actual sets, from beginning to end) and 2) these 16 comic shows are really hard to review in a timely manner. I'm actually looking for a knuckle-donor if anybody in our reading audience recently lost a hand, but kept the knuckles.

As always, Shecky Magazine has their take here!

Which of the following comics who were not chosen tonight deserved to be in the top five?
Fiona O'Loughlin40 (19.4%)
Ryan Hamilton10 (4.9%)
Thea Vidale5 (2.4%)
Dwayne Perkins10 (4.9%)
Sean Rouse22 (10.7%)
Greg Warren18 (8.7%)
Andi Smith35 (17.0%)
Arj Barker25 (12.1%)
Chuck Roy5 (2.4%)
Jane Condon1 (0.5%)
Mel Silverback35 (17.0%)

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Jim

LaVell sucks.

I think Matt has the most potential.

July 28 2007 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Antivenin

Fiona Rocks

July 27 2007 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I just watched this episode, and you know what really bothered me? The glaring continuity error. Tom Arnold was wearing, alternatively, a pink shirt underneath his blazer, and a blue shirt underneath his blazer. Every set it changed colors, it seems. Not sure why they went to such lengths to re-edit reality so that comics who performed on one night were edited together with comics who performed on another night. It makes me suspect they didn't take 5 from each group of 16, but instead, took the 10 they wanted regardless. Not a big deal, but totally unnecessary, in my opinion.

I had looked forward to seeing Jane Condon and Mel Silverback again, and they just weren't entertaining in this week's episode. I was surprised Amy Schumer was advanced, since I thought her material (the part they showed, at least) was overly derivative, but I'm glad they advanced the British kid, who is very entertaining I think!

July 27 2007 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I just watched this episode, and you know what really bothered me? The glaring continuity error. Tom Arnold was wearing, alternatively, a pink shirt underneath his blazer, and a blue shirt underneath his blazer. Every set it changed colors, it seems. Not sure why they went to such lengths to re-edit reality so that comics who performed on one night were edited together with comics who performed on another night. It makes me suspect they didn't take 5 from each group of 16, but instead, took the 10 they wanted regardless. Not a big deal, but totally unnecessary, in my opinion.

I had looked forward to seeing Jane Condon and Mel Silverback again, and they just weren't entertaining in this week's episode. I was surprised Amy Schumer was advanced, since I thought her material (the part they showed, at least) was overly derivative, but I'm glad they advanced the British kid, who is very entertaining I think!

July 27 2007 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordo

Its John Reep not Larry Reep and its Gerry Dee not Ryan Dee but otherwise Great review...I look forward to reading it for the rest of the season.

July 26 2007 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amanda

Congrats on the baby - but for the love of comedy...

His name is Jon Reep - not Larry Reep. He's doing alright for himself too - he's already had a Comedy Central special. I understand that you missed a bit because of TiVo - happens - but you could have checked nbc.com for the correct name.

Sorry - other than that, thanks for the wrap up. :D

July 26 2007 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xtinemichele

Jay,

Great recap, as always. You wouldn't happen to have any pull over at NBC? I missed last night's ep due to an errant VCR, so I'm dying to see what I missed! Last night's episode is still MIA on nbc.com.

July 26 2007 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mary

Fiona was by far a lot funnier than that Amy or any of the others in my opinion. I really enjoyed LaVell though.

July 26 2007 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Canton

I really liked Andi. She's got this great low-key misanthropic cynicism about her, and why that's appealing, I don't know. I'm willing to ignore the misuse of irony for the sake of funny.

Congratulations on the baby!

July 26 2007 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TK101

I always read your reviews of LCS, and always agree. I LOVED Fiona - thought her act killed. I'm also a big fan of Greg Warren's style - I see big things for him. Arj will be fine, as Conchords is one of the best things on TV right now.

I just checked your MySpace site and realized you'll be in Pittsburgh next month - my wife and I will have to come see your act!

Congrats on the new baby - they're a blast :)

TK

July 26 2007 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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