Last year, NBC’s Last Comic Standing showcased their "best of the worst" auditions during the finale. This time around, they couldn’t even wait for the audition phase to end before giving us their so-called most outrageous tryouts. That couldn’t be a good sign, could it? They’re even teasing the "most shocking audition" from the top of the program with a countdown clock.
Our judges at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco are some guy from Chuck whose name I do not know but whose scary goatee will stay with me for hours to come, and French Stewart in his highest-profile gig since 3rd Rock From the Sun, unless you count that movie from eons ago that replays over and over on Showtime and — not-so-fun fact — has Stewart’s best friend played by none other than LCS host Bill Bellamy! Jason Downs jokes about how easy it really is to find Anne Frank in Amsterdam, but we keep another eye on the tick-tock clock, and what we get is Shashi Bhatia from North Hollywood. OK. Shock me, Shashi. Wait. Really? That was it? That was the "most shocking audition" ever? We’ll have to agree to disagree, and by we, I mean pretty much everyone who exists in the universe.
There’s a guy in a fly mask, who reminds me of the guy in the alien outfit, and the Internet tells us that both are real comedians who perform like that. Alrighty then.
The Meehan Brothers (previously seen on video on this blog via Hulu) get by with a little help from each other, and you can debate whether they’re stand-ups or street performers all you want, but I’m not sure how duos or trios or groups are supposed to compete in the house challenges this show promises later on in the competition? It seems better suited for a different show, really. And here, now, we present Iliza Shlesinger, who showed up briefly in many of the promo ads and tells us she’s only been in comedy for three years. Which means she could be this year’s Amy Schumer or April Macie. Either way, she’s charming, has good stage presence and wears shirts with cleavage to remind us that she’s a lady, and even the guy from Chuck thinks Stewart is asking her out on a date. Jesse Case came here from Nashville and is clever enough. Drennon Davis plays to seals? Children’s songs that go dark? Who’s heard that before? An industry in-joke gets a pass. The two A-Holes are next…er, um, I mean Sky and Nancy Collins from Orange County. They have sweaters (and you saw them previously on this blog). Joe Klocek needs exposure? Done. A montage of good comedy follows, with Candy Churilla, Jonathan Thymius, a skinny guy, Jeff Dye and Mike E. Winfield all making it to the live audience showcase round.
As the showcase begins, we see Whitney Cummings! Spoiler alert? Actually, NBC spoiled it this time, because they already showed us Cummings last week in the separate "Last Comic Driving" contest, so we know she ain’t getting a ticket here tonight. Or at least they won’t show her advancing. We see Case perform first, and his jokes about playing a prank on Best Buy (hello, Improv Everywhere!) and tailgating to see the other vehicle’s DVD player (clever, but I’ve heard others do that one, too) get a good audience response. The Collins, well, yeah. Thymius does foot ventriloquism? Odd. Cummings is up next, but like I said, we know what happens to her. Farting or no farting. Larry "Bubbles" Brown…Bubbles? Dye proves how bad-ass he is. "If they’re not entertained, I will dance," he tells the British lady. Hey, that’s my line!
By the way, this week’s contestant on Last Comic Driving is…J. Chris Newberg. And he’s got songs to sing. Yeah. I cannot think of a worse act to put in the passenger seat of a car than a guy with a guitar. No offense to Mr. Newberg. This simply isn’t the right venue for that sort of thing. C’mon, NBC. You can do better than this.
The Meehans do an Irish Three Amigos thing. Downs describes the cheapest cruise ever. Andy Haynes has a thing against teeth, and does he look like he does meth? Klocek explains why you don’t need a sign that says "how to order," and saw a guy punch a pigeon. Shlesinger eats like a guy, apparently. That skinny guy seen earlier now identified as Tony Dijamco, and he’s too old for a pedophile. Winfield can’t handle his wife’s pregnancy scares. The Brit lady reminds Churilla to be nervous, and she says she prefers weed and alcohol to speed dating. Davis does another song, and it sounds just like the last one, only longer, and he ends with an Andy Kaufman thank you. Hmmm.
Tickets to the semis go to…Davis???? Shlesinger! The Meehans. Dye! As they show the winners backstage, it looks as though Winfield is holding an envelope, too, but not for long? Shlesinger talks to her mom on her cell phone and leans forward (ahem), but her mom isn’t particularly congratulatory. "You’re really sucking the joy out of this," Iliza says. You’re telling me.
Onward to Toronto! Bellamy is in a Mounties outfit. Naturally. Someone wisely notes that American Idol lets its auditioners wait inside. At Yuk Yuk’s, Dave Foley and Richard Kind might be my favorite judges so far with their honesty and their humor going through the motions here, although the comics as a whole here aren’t extraordinary. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing.
The first guy up says he lives on hair, karate and laser beams. Oh no. A guy walks into a bar joke, beep beep! Awwwwwwwwww.
Winston Spear dances, sort of, and I remember seeing him in a promo clip saying he’d win and thinking, no, no you won’t. But he’s still in this thing. So are Brian Lazanik and Kate Davis. We’ve seen Sean Cullen already, and Foley even calls him "one of the funniest people on the planet," so he’ll advance with ease. Pete Zedlacher talks about the transition from obese to merely overweight, but has to promise he’ll kill in front of his home club crowd to even get a shot at it. Bartles and Jaymes are up now — oh, wait, they’re called The Williamson Playboys. Eh. More good comic montages.
#4 on the Best of the Worst goes to doktor cocacolamcdonalds, mostly because he’s just that eccentric that neither the judges nor NBC can figure him out.
At the live audience showcase, Sean Cullen does a cockneyed gangster routine that’s not as great as befitting one of the funniest people on the planet. Sabrina Jakes is Paki/Swiss. Darrin Rose proves we don’t like eating meat so much when it’s gerbilburgers, and points out the then-topical humor in sending all of the losing Super Bowl hats and shirts to other countries. The Williamson Playboys have a cute shtick, but again, another musical duo in this contest? It’s enough to make an entirely different show, I tells ya. Derek Forgie, aka Old Joke Suit Guy, does his tribute to Vaudeville again. Johnny Gardhouse delivers very basic jokes about not having sex when you’re married, and pretending to be a drunk pilot at the airport. Kate Davis has three kids and mines that for jokes. Lazanik has his own report about runaway kids. Spear talks about tattooing his foot. Chuck Byrn is old school. Really old school. Scott Faulconbridge and Promising Pete are decent enough, but…
Tickets to the semis go to…Spear!? and Cullen!
Next week’s show takes us to auditions in Minneapolis and Nashville. Stay tuned.