Last Comic Standing: Audience Vote Round #4
None of my friends had it (10 million viewers a week? None in South Jersey, apparently). I was bummed because I didn't want to have to write an incomplete review. It wasn't until after all this that I actually watched the final 25 minutes my TiVo grabbed.
Wouldn't you know that NBC had so padded the hour that the only two performances that really mattered didn't come till the last 15 minutes anyway? God bless the terrible, slow roast editing techniques of this show. God. Bless. Them. On to the (almost complete) review...
The biggest tragedy of the evening for me was that I missed Gilbert Gottfried. When it comes to comedy, Gilbert is like the old line about pizza (or sex, but who wants to think about sex and Gilbert at the same time?): even when he's bad, he's good.
The second biggest tragedy was that Gerry Dee was voted off the show tonight. I would normally write-off my prediction that Dee was our frontrunner due to my being a comic whose sensibility doesn't necessarily mesh with a general audience's, but the poll we ran last week indicated that the vast majority of you agreed with me. I was shocked that Dee was sent packing.
It makes me wonder who is doing the actual voting on this show. Part of me suspects that LaVell got a lot of votes this week from confused grandmothers who thought that he was Reuben Studdard.
Since I haven't seen the rest of the show, let's get right to the performance breakdowns:
Jon Reep -- decided to spend his four minutes on a long story about his father snoring. Storytelling is hard to do in the first place because, by its nature, it tends to produce less laughs per minute than flat out joke telling (for an example of this, watch some Bill Cosby, probably our most preeminent storyteller comic. He's outstanding at it, but his laughs per minute are decidedly lower than other more conventional -- albeit less talented -- comedians). In a competition where you only have four minutes to make your case to the audience, Jon's choice was a bold one.
Did he pull it off? Meh. His performance was great, but the laughs were of the mild chuckle variety. I also didn't think the payoff was big enough to justify spending four minutes telling the story. This is a piece that I could very easily see showing up midway through a headlining set -- perfectly pleasant, well executed -- but I wouldn't use it as a closer.
LaVell Crawford -- still seems to have trouble with saying things he shouldn't. Last week it was curses, this week brand names. He did all right in the beginning (dropping Kentucky Fried Chicken for "one of those chicken places"), but in the second half of his act, he used a brand name that had to be bleeped (my guess was AT&T, does anyone know for sure?) This isn't a big deal; it just seems to speak to the theory that LaVell has been nervous the last few episodes.
While I thought the second half of his act produced a few funny moments (for some reason, I thought his poor imitation of the computerized phone voice was hilarious), the first half covered some very familiar themes. There are a lot of weight-centered comics (that's my PC term for "fat comics") that have a variation on the joke of ordering a huge meal for all of his friends and family and having the person at the counter mistake that meal for only his.
It's hard to pick a winner because It appeared like both comics were out of gas tonight. Maybe I'm just tired from a long flight and a scramble to find 35 minutes of a show that probably had about 1.5 minutes of enjoyable content in it, but I thought we ended very much on a whimper. The big guns, it seemed, were not saved till the end.
If I was forced to make a choice, I'd say LaVell, simply on audience reaction.
I'm anxious to hear what you think about it. Am I being overly critical? Did both Jon and LaVell rock the house tonight but I was too tired to appreciate it? Let me know.
Check back here later in the week for an update with the rest of the review. In the meantime, you can check out another perspective at Shecky Magazine here.