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October 6, 2015

Last Comic Standing: Season Finale

by Jay Black, posted Sep 20th 2007 12:25AM
Free at last, Free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last!(S05E15) When I used to teach high school English, one of my biggest pet peeves was reading a paper from a student who was obviously stretching two pages of ideas into the required four pages of the assignment. I actually preferred it when students came up short in page count instead of insulting my intelligence with superfluous words, plodding pacing, and ridiculous font and margin tweaks.

Watching the two hour -- that's right two hour -- finale of Last Comic Standing, I couldn't help but be reminded of my teaching days. Tonight's finale was like an essay written using Comic Sans 16 point font...

Maybe I've been reading digg.com too much and have become enamored of the lists that always seem to get dugg up on that site, but I've decided tonight to review Last Comic Standing as a list of questions. So, without further ado, we have the Top Fourteen Questions I have about the Last Comic Standing Finale:

1. Why do shows like Last Comic Standing feel the need to treat their finale like it was an event? It makes sense to treat the finale of American Idol like it's a big deal because, you know, it actually is a big deal. For a show like LCS, which has about a fifth of the viewers of AI (and only has that many because it competes in the summertime against reruns on CBS and, I think, a test pattern on ABC), to treat its finale like it was a shared cultural experience... well, it's kind of like everyone getting teary-eyed at the Junior Prom. Hey, I know we're all in tuxedos here, but it's the Junior Prom -- we'll all be back next year, let's not get too excited.

2. What was Bill Bellamy wearing? Did he host this show from the future?

3. Why was the USC Marching Band there? Forgive me for my comedy ignorance, but is there a strong connection in the hearts and minds of the good people of middle America between multi-piece brass bands and stand-up comedy?

4. Why were the roasts -- potentially the biggest comedy goldmine of the entire show -- cut down to one segment each? We had two hours to play with. Did we really need a look back at our "talent scouts" (and the treat that is Ant's attempt to become the gay comedy Simon)? Did we really need another one-liner contest? Though the roasters weren't exactly the murderers row that Comedy Central gets for its roasts, they were still pretty good and provided, I thought, the biggest laughs of the night. These could easily and entertainingly have been our entire first hour.

5. Puppets? Really? Puppets? I wanted to change the channel and I'm being paid to watch this show.

6. What was it that Gina Yashere said that was bleeped? I couldn't lip-read it and since I'm stuck in a hotel in Utica tonight (that's right, your reviewer is living the great big comedy high life), I couldn't rewind and try to decipher it. Do any of our readers know what she said?

7. Is it just me, or is there something a bit disturbing about a comedian who is as buff as Carrot Top? Maybe I'm simply justifying my own expanding paunch (thanks late-night road pizza), but all I could think about during the 'Top's performance was this picture. (Notice, by the way, that I didn't spend this section on Carrot Top criticizing him. I know that Carrot Top has become a synonym for "bad, hacky comedians", but I personally think it's a little hacky to keep attacking him. Yes he's a prop comic and there's something cheesy about that, but as witnessed tonight, he's actually a really funny and clever writer. I don't know if I could sit through an hour of it, but it was one of the few fun moments in the first hour of the program).

8. Did anyone else think that the "Top 10 Biggest Laughs in Last Comic Standing History" were put together like the organ sequence from Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite?

9. How good was Doug Benson during the roasts? "I know your from Hick'ry because you don't shut up about it!" I really hope we hear more from Doug in the future. C'mon Judd Apatow, I know you have room for just one more funny friend in your movies.

10. Why did we need to talk to the parents? Was there a chance that any of them wouldn't be proud? I mean, that's the only way it could be interesting, right? Mrs. Crawford: "LaVell? Yeah, I guess he's doing okay with the comedy stuff. It is a lot of one-note fat jokes, though. I keep telling him that he should try to branch out and write some material that isn't about his size. Hey, while I've got the mic, let me give a shout out to my other son, who's a doctor. Now that I'm proud of!"

11. Is Bill Bellamy really the best person they could find for the hosting job? As much as I hate Ryan Seacrest, watching Bill Bellamy mangle his way through the cue-cards (and having his inability to read confirmed by LaVell during the roast) made me long for the smooth delivery The Bland One. And let me tell you this, anything that makes me long for Ryan Seacrest is not a good thing.

12. Which of these things is not like the other: Dane Cook, Robert Schimmel, Carrot Top? You know what NBC could have done instead of showing us a clip of Good Luck Chuck? They could have just run a tape of Robert Schimmel talking to a group of his comedian friends at a table at the Comedy Cellar discussing what it was like hanging backstage with the other two. I'm sure that would have been about a thousand times funnier than a clip from a sure-to-be-mediocre movie that, incidentally, we've all seen about a thousand times in the commercials. Schimmel's stand-up tonight was, as always very funny, edgy, and interesting. Schimmel is a great comic; it's a shame that the sitcom he and Howard Stern were working on fell through.

13. When did Dane Cook reach "Even though I'm a comedian and I'm guesting on a show that's ostensibly about stand-up comedy, I don't need to actually perform stand-up anymore" status? I won't give in to the easy hate (clips NSFW) of Cook (I actually think the guy has a lot of talent underneath all that hair product), but it's not like he's Steve Martin yet, okay? If you're going to advertise Cook's appearance before every commercial break, he should at least break out two or three minutes, shouldn't he?

14. How much will this win do for Jon Reep's career? This is a question that I've asked before, but I think it bears repeating. Will you, as loyal viewers of the show, seek him out if he comes to a comedy club near you? Will you be more likely to see a movie if he's in it? I think we've all come to like Jon, but I came to like John Heffron and Alonzo Bodden, too. I haven't seen either of them much since their wins. Last Comic Standing likes to think that it's launching a career, but even a win on American Idol doesn't guarantee success (as Reuben Studdard and Taylor Hicks can attest). What do you guys think will happen for Jon? Let me know in the comments.

Well, kids, that's it for this year. I have to say that after watching a full season from beginning to end for the first time since season two, I'm still not sold on this show. As a comedian I understand that shows like this help us all by raising the awareness of stand-up, but, by the same token, being a comedian makes me really dislike a lot of the aspects of the show.

Sometimes that dislike came pouring out in a way that annoyed you guys. I'll admit, sometimes I did go over the top. I was talking recently with my sister-in-law's boyfriend (who is a surgeon -- can you guess which choice in man my in-laws are happier about?) and he told me that it's impossible for him to watch Grey's Anatomy because the medicine in it is so bad. My first impulse was to say, "Hey man, calm down, it's just a TV show." I then remembered the approximately 10,000 words I've written about how Last Comic Standing bastardizes the art of stand-up. Maybe I should have taken my own advice and calmed down every once and a while.

That being said, I really do want this show to succeed. I think there is no entertainment more electric than stand-up comedy. I believe in it -- I did so before it was my profession and I feel that way even though I am in Utica tonight. I think that LCS has the potential to remind people just how much fun going to a comedy show can be; I just don't think that copying every aspect of American Idol that they can is the right way to go about it.

Please, NBC, for next year, just try making it about the comedy. Do your auditioning off-camera, where it belongs, and serve us up the best 20 semifinalists you can find, not just the most telegenic. Then, instead of forcing them into stupid challenges that eat up so much time you have to butcher their acts into 2 awkwardly paced minutes, let them, you know, actually perform stand-up comedy. People will watch, really they will. And angry bloggers with too much time on their hands -- like me -- might actually watch the show without wanting to Elvis the screen full of bullets.

One thing I really did enjoy this season was reading your comments each week (even when they were telling me how horrible I was at reviewing the show!) Jim, Chuck, Matt, Bash and the rest of the regulars kept me going with their wit and insight. Thanks for the time you took in reading and responding to my reviews. I hope you'll join me next week when I go back to reviewing the new season of The Office.

As always, you can find a different take on the finale over at Shecky Magazine.

Will you watch Last Comic Standing next year?
Of course, I love the show!98 (40.3%)
Not a chance. I'm giving up on this train wreck!33 (13.6%)
Meh. Maybe if I come across it by acccident.74 (30.5%)
Yes, but only if Jay is reviewing it!38 (15.6%)

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I have to say I'm going to miss your reviews a heckuva lot more than I'll miss this show. So much potential wasted by production decisions that obviously had very little to do with actual comedy. In the end, I was glad John won (at the start he was who I was pulling for), but along the way I really found myself pulling for Gerry and Matt.

Thank you for your "insider's" perspective, as it really made me think about this show from more than one angle. You need to get your standup ass to Charleston!

September 21 2007 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that Josh Blue was the funniest ever. Jon Reep has been consistent since the first show. I was disappointed that the show drug on for so long. It's the 2nd year that I've missed finding out who the winner was because I've fallen asleep from boredom. It's 8:30 am on Friday and I've just been able to find out that Reep won. You'd think they'd have an announcement on their web page.

September 21 2007 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Agreed on multiple points. I TiVo'd the show and fast forwarded through the crap. I watched the whole thing in less than 30 minutes.

I can say this because the anonymity of the Internet protects me: I like Carrot Top. I watched his act on the Jerry Lewis telethon only about two weeks ago and a huge chunk of it is new stuff since then. It takes a lot of work to keep an act like his current. Prop comedy might not be the most high-brow, but Carrot Top does his job well.

Jon Reep's amusing, but I wouldn't go see him if he came to my area, unless it was some kind of free show at the college. I'd drive a few hours to see Doug, Amy or Mat though. I think that's the point of the show - we all got exposed to new stand-up comedians we might not have seen otherwise and we got some more appreciation for the stand-up form.

September 21 2007 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Josh Blue was/is HYSTERICAL (he's touring like a mad-man, according to the tour schedule on his website: www.joshblue.com ~ but this year, there wasn't a single person throughout the entire series' competition who compared. Fat jokes, women who hate their children and/or men jokes.... OLD. Amy Schuller was GOOD, and knew how to handle hecklers, but apparently she's too bright, and therefore her humor too 'high', for the voters to handle and she was booted off.... So, next to Amy, I think Reep was next in line.... but, I truly think Josh Blue was right when he said he deserved to win again. No one compared to Josh!

September 20 2007 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Last Comic Standing, because it gives you get to laughs alot. Laughing is good for everyone. I think that NBC should do a sitcom revolving around both Jon and LaVell. How hilarious would that be? They could be strangers who cross paths, meet and trade experiences from the viewpoint of black and white and North and South. They could be the new Odd Couple. I'm already laughing!

September 20 2007 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Russell Peters would fit the bill, though I'm not sure he was on LCS, was he? Seems like he's too Big Name. Then again, perhaps I saw him on some other show and am just confusing it with having seen him on LCS. I'll see if any other names of East Indians from Toronto come from the posters!


September 20 2007 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That show was horrible. The last two weren't funny. Most of the finalists weren't funny. Bill Bellamy looked like one of those street performers who acts like a statue. At first I thought he was pretending to be a Black Oscar. For some reason I kept going back to the show hoping it would redeem itself. It didn't. There were moments that made me smile, but I'm not sure I laughed the entire two hours. The show was disjointed and horribly produced and directed. I want to see another season, but I really hope they just stick to the comedy next year.

September 20 2007 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lavell was robbed. He absolutly deserved the win. He was the most consistent through out the show and his last performance blew away Jon. Some people thought Lavell didn't have an act but talking about your dad snoring for a final performance was weak.

Whenever the masses decide who should win they usually screw up. How do explain Bush serving two terms. For this show and American Idol the public shouldn't get 100% of the vote. Part of the vote should go to professionals who know what they are talkin about.

September 20 2007 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Jay, thanks for the props! I'm confident next year's edition of the show will yield more positive comments from me...after this year, I know they can't sink any lower.

I actually didn't tune in for the finale, due to class and my removing it from my DVR schedule after Gerry's departure. However, I did catch the last five minutes, and felt confident in knowing that was all I needed to see.

Good for John...the seventh or eighth most talent guy in the competition.

Bring back Mohr!

September 20 2007 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have tried and tried to watch this show, but as a huge fan of stand-up comedy (I was totally a comedy club groupie in my unmarried, pre-mommy years) it's just painful to watch. I agree completely with Jay that they should just make it about stand-up performances only. Go to the city, whittle down the contestants (and no, we don't need to see the bad ones) and show the 6 best doing 5-7 minute routines then let the public vote. The best two from each city do 10 minutes on the finale (in Holllywood or whatever) and we vote who wins. The end.

September 20 2007 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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