Last Comic Standing: Challenge Round #2
Watching Last Comic Standing tonight made me wish that Jim Morrison was still alive. And a stand-up comic. And on this show. I'd bet he'd have had something to say about jester costumes....
Usually, I would start this review with a thousand words on exactly what was wrong with the jester competition. I would illustrate how it demeaned the comics and stand-up comedy in general. I would then go on to suggest (semi-tongue-in-cheek) that the term "jester" might as well be a slur for comedians. Something that would be okay if I were to use among my comedian friends, but that was inappropriate for NBC to bring up, much less dress the comics as such!
But I'm not going to do that tonight. I've railed enough about how poorly this show treats stand-up and I'm guessing that you guys are tired of it about now. So, in the spirit of reality shows, I'm going to let you guys vote (and comment) about it.
There was one good thing that came out of the jester competition and that was for the first time since the show began, the comedians have been asked to write original material for a specific audience. While I liked the situation they had to write for about as much as I would have actually liked living in the Middle Ages, I was happy to see the comics have to show some writing chops.
Here's what I noticed:
-- LaVell is a one-note comic even in olden times (if you didn't notice, he's fat!). That being said, he might have the most forceful comic presence of the entire cast and I would be scared to death to have to showdown with him.
-- John Reep (at least in the early portion) seemed to have lucked into having a bunch of stage-tested Renaissance Fair material already in his act. I don't know for sure, but it felt like his first round material wasn't written on the spot, but taken from his regular set.
-- Matt Kirshen had the funniest bit of the night with his "security guard/moat" routine.
-- Amy Schumer continues to impress me by improving. This might be indicative of someone who doesn't have the writing skills as some of the other comics, but so far it's been a breath of fresh air to watch her make fun of her surroundings. That's what comics do and we see very little of that on this show. (Incidentally, I think that my wife has read on here how cute I think Amy is because she mentioned a few times how "she shouldn't wear her hair like that" in that way women do. I wonder if any of the readers experience this kind of mild TV jealousy with their spouses...)
-- Ralph Harris couldn't possibly have tanked that badly! I mean here's a guy with 20 years of stand-up comedy experience, a sitcom under his belt, and a natural comedy presence -- jester outfit or no, that stinkbomb had to be at least somewhat manufactured by NBC's crack (ahem) editing staff.
-- Did Gerry Dee really try to do political material at Medieval Times? Wow. I actually admire the guts that took.
-- What's with the knights fighting? Did anyone like that? Was there a single person watching at home saying, "Well, they can't just tease us! You can't set a stand-up comedy show at Medieval Times and not show us fake sword fighting! C'mon NBC, don't leave me hanging!" only to be relieved by the fake-fighting money shot? As always, one wonders how much stand-up (from a show about stand-up comedy, mind you) they cut so they could show us fake sword fighting. I think the only person who might have been happy about the decision was the ask.com chicks-with-swords guy.
Mercifully, the "I know I'm funnier than..." segment was done right at Medieval Times without the need to travel to the LA Coliseum or to the Hollywood sign or Jupiter or whatever. It's becoming a ritual for the comics to make a joke before giving their pick and this week's best goes to Amy Schumer with her story about what she wanted to be when she grew up. It was weird and funny and she gets the win because she tagged it with "true story".
Kudos, by the way, to Doug Benson for going after LaVell. Everyone is afraid of him (I would be), but it showed some major league cajones to out and out challenge him. I really like how Doug is comporting himself on the show.
I'm still a little fuzzy how the voting process works, but somehow John Reep's immunity meant that we only had two comics in the showdown. That's the best thing that could have happened as it resulted in more actual stand-up from our two comics. It's what I've been asking for from the start and I think it made for a much better show tonight.
Here's what I noticed about the showdown:
-- They should do a Last Comic Standing host competition. Jay Mohr versus Anthony Clark versus Bill Bellamy. Think about it! Jay Mohr could do material of questionable origins, Anthony Clark could stare blankly at the camera, and Bill Bellamy could do material that echoes BET's Comicview... from 1991.
-- Did anyone else notice that Bill handed Debra the microphone? That's terrible emcee work. The first thing they teach you when you do your first emcee gig is put the microphone back in the stand for the next comic. Debra is a comic who performs with the mic in the stand, so she had to go over, get the stand, and put the mic back in it. Not a huge deal, but an annoyance for a comic. Good thing that this gig doesn't mean much. Er...
-- I think I've made it known in these reviews that I'm not a huge Debra DiGiovanni fan. I think she relies too much on that "I'm fat and crazy" schtick. Tonight, though, was her best effort. The bra thing was funny (more on that in a second) and the body-fat percentage routine was very clever. ("Technically, I'm cream.") For the first time in the competition, I thoroughly enjoyed one of Debra's sets.
-- That being said... Matt Kirshen is far and away my favorite comic on the show. That kid is hilarious. There wasn't a thing he did tonight that I didn't think was clever and original. I loved how he acknowledged his nerves and I was amazed at his willingness to do a bit that involved questioning whether or not there's a God (in America!). The only fear that I have for him as he moves through the competition is that he's young (26) which means he might not have the reservoir of material to draw from that the veterans do.
-- A note on Matt's joke regarding his helping put on Debra's bra. This is what's known as "tagging another comic's joke." For any of you who might have thought it was a cheesy move, it's generally not considered bad form to do so, especially if the comics are friends. I think that the way Matt brought it up (distaste for the contest aspects of the show) absolved him of anything except trying to be funny.
-- Matt and Amy are friends, eh? Did you notice any chemistry there? Hmmmmm? Am I living vicariously through my favorite comic on the show? Hmmmmm? Is the use of "hmmm" here annoying? Hmmmmm?
Our winner tonight: Matt. Had it been any other way, I would have thrown the TiVo remote through the screen.
No ads for next week's show (at least on my recording of it), so I have no terrible challenge to complain about in advance.
As always, for another take on tonight's episode, check Shecky Magazine out here!