Last Comic Standing: Challenge Round #3
Tonight is different, though. I can't do it. I'm at a loss for words. I... actually liked an episode of Last Comic Standing!
All right, one little flaw before we start: the yoga stuff. I'm not going to kill it too badly because it did lead to some pretty funny lines (like the heart sandwich), but I just didn't see the need for it. We had a strong challenge and three good comics in the elimination round, so I don't understand why we had to spend an entire segment on what amounted to be a whole lot of nothing. My only guess is that NBC is under the assumption that the entire viewing populace of LCS is twelve year old boys and people with adult ADD and if they don't change the scenery every thirty seconds, they'll lose viewers to other channels (or shiny objects).
That being said, let's look at the Challenge Round first:
-- This is the right way to do a challenge round! I thought it was an interesting experiment putting the comics one-on-one with various audiences. It forced the comics to think on their feet and use a slightly different skill set than what they would utilize in a club setting. I didn't mind the switcheroo either -- it forced the comics out of silly strategy (like Gerry Dee's "I'm gonna do the same set each time" gambit). Most importantly, this challenge didn't subvert the art of stand-up comedy (like the heckling challenge) or make the comics feel like the dancing monkeys Mel Silverback pretends to be (like the jester challenge).
-- Amy Schumer definitely deserved the win. She handled the challenge just right: she was sweet and engaging and though it looked to me that she was doing rehearsed material, I think she pulled it off as conversational. As someone who has had to perform in situations where there were only two people in the room (big draw that I am), I can tell you that making material sound natural in front of such a small audience is nearly impossible to do.
-- Matt Kirshen had the line of the challenge: "I feel like we're in some sort of movie where I'm trying to help you with a science project and you're helping me learn how to dance". Again, I think he's a cut above the other comics when it comes to cleverness.
-- LaVell also had me laughing with his response to finding out that the clown's name was Twinky.
-- Doug Benson was seriously hilarious throughout tonight's episode. He's really grown on me, and I love his attitude regarding the show. Also, I completely understood what he was doing with all that offensive material in front of the nun. A lot of comics (myself included), once they figure that there's no way they're going to "win" with an audience, decide to see how bad they can make the situation. It's the moment when a comic stops trying to please an audience and it can lead to some pretty wonderful stuff (at least from another comic's perspective). That's what happened with Doug and I thought it was fantastic.
-- It's twice now that we've seen Ralph Harris lose his composure during a challenge round. I figured that this particular challenge would be custom-made for him: it was all about likeability and he's more likeable than a sackful of cherry pie and puppies. Last week I thought that his bad showing had to be the doings of the thousand random monkeys that NBC calls its editors, but after this week, I'm not so sure. Maybe Ralph has been doing stand-up for so long (and has been so successful at it) that his comfort zone has narrowed to only big stage situations.
-- LaVell and Ralph's reaction to Amy's win. LaVell might have had a real shot of winning it, so I could understand why he'd be upset, but Ralph? At the end of the challenge, he was laughing at how horrible he had performed in it! He knew the loss was coming, why be so upset about it? It didn't make sense to me and it seemed out of character for him.
Now for a look at the elimination round:
-- Why are we on a beach? Why is the system for picking the final three so convoluted? Why do they go into the booth only to have the reveal seconds later? These are the first three questions I fully expect aliens to ask us in 40 years when the signals for these broadcasts reach their planet and they come looking for an explanation.
-- Bill Bellamy! Yeah! Give it up for him! I think that "Chuck E. Cheese" line is going to be the catchphrase of the summer! (In all seriousness, really NBC? This is the best that you've got? Was Pauly Shore's asking price too high?)
-- I was really sorry to see Matt be put into this situation. This is not a show about funny or clever as much as it is a show about who can make a roomful of people like him the most. I'm not knocking it, as every audience-decided comedy contest in the world is like that, just that Matt isn't really suited for it. As Amy said last week, his stuff is cerebral and that doesn't necessarily translate into votes. People don't think to themselves, "Well yes, I really liked Ralph and Doug, but Matt's dry British wit was working on a higher level. I'll vote for him because a vote for Matt is a vote for good comedy." The second he was picked for the showdown, I knew he was done and I was sad because I really thought he was the best comic on the show.
-- That being said, I thought Doug had the best performance of the night. His stuff was edgy (more anti-religion stuff! On TV! Did I wake up in an alternate dimension America? Did the Soviets win the Cold War in this dimension? Does it rain donuts here? Somebody pinch me!) and even though he dropped the mic at the end, I thought it was more ironic than douchey. I love Matt's stuff, but I would have voted for Doug.
-- Ralph was our winner tonight and I was (semi) surprised by that. I didn't think he had a very strong set -- I didn't count a lot of punchlines in his 3 minutes. Like I said, though, Ralph can charm an audience and sometimes that's more important than the strength of the writing.
-- "If you're going to make love to an album, make it a live one, because from time to time you'll hear applause."
-- Amy and Matt hugged. Amy and Matt made a heart sandwich together. Amy and Matt...? I'm just saying, if the two of them had babies they might be the funniest babies on the planet.
Your final five:
Is it possible that next week we'll have a FULL NIGHT of stand-up? Knowing NBC, probably not, but a boy can hope, can't he?
As always, for a different take, check out Shecky Magazine here.
|Ralph Harris||12 (4.6%)|
|Matt Kirshen||162 (61.8%)|
|Doug Benson||88 (33.6%)|