Through methods not entirely spelled out — although, really, anything associated with the late Andy Kaufman should go without any easy explanations — eight comedians from across America got invites to Las Vegas to perform in front of Kaufman’s dad, Stanley, and his manager, George Shapiro, for the coveted award named for the eccentric performer. This was the contest’s first visit to Vegas, having been conducted the first three years in New York City. How would it play in a ballroom of Caesars Palace during The Comedy Festival?
Well…you can watch the video submissions of all eight finalists here…
Past winners Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts co-hosted the affair with their usual pluck and delight.
Chad Fogland chose a clowning mime striptease for his act, disrobing 12 pairs of pants, three pairs of boxers and a pair of briefs to reveal…another pair of briefs. Impressive enough, but far from extraordinary.
Mary Mack made her case with a washboard that she plays in her day job as a one-woman Eagles cover band. "This is where the show really amps up," she said. Certainly off the beaten path.
Nick Gibbons used a lie detector during his act that prompted him to change his answers repeatedly, almost exactly like an improv game my old troupe used to perform with bells and buzzers. Even Gibbons said on his blog later that the bit was "pretty tame," so I’m wondering if he could’ve chosen something different for the finals?
Brent Weinbach (spoiler alert: he won!) talked about being a substitute teacher in Oakland, Calif., then offered interpretations of "gay" and "psychotic" eyes, then ripped on the idea of "being natural" onstage by calling back to Gibbons’ bit, then ripped on those who’d talk of him "being too creepy onstage" by being creepier, then offered three dance moves. Here was his contest submission:
Kate Micucci had a drum and cymbals to sing about being a librarian, put on a puppet love triangle show in a cardboard box, then sang a sexy song about sleeping. Adorably odd and funny.
Mitch Magee operated a slideshow of fruit photos with a low-key understated delivery, with commentary and music cutting in to enforce the idea that it’s all an ode to his late grandmother.
Paul Rust, seen earlier in the weekend as part of the Unprotected Sketch! show, had a tech mishap (or did he? in an Andy Kaufman show, it’s often difficult to know what’s true onstage) and said, "Mistakes are God’s way of telling you, ‘Just quit the business!’" So instead, he played an anti-drugs song on the keyboard that just so happened to also be onstage.
Will Franken told me beforehand that he had something different planned for this show. He walked onstage as a waiter in a play with an unsuspecting audience memner who, of course, didn’t know any of his lines, which only made Franken angrier and angrier. Decidedly risky, so kudos for that, even if he didn’t win.