In real life, maybe you audition a few months ago for a comedy competition that's going to be televised everywhere in America and beyond. Maybe your audition goes well. Maybe it goes well enough that you get asked to perform again at a live audience showcase, and then that goes well enough that you receive a red-ticket envelope to perform again in Hollywood. So maybe, just maybe, you're excited to see yourself on television and so are your friends, family and loved ones. So what happens when you and they turn on the TV and, an hour later, are wondering, did we and they blink and miss you? Hold that thought.
Because we're living by TV producers' rules. And in Last Comic Standing's seventh season, even when they say it's not business as usual, it's still show business. Last week, they edited the New York City auditions together to allow some comedians to get better treatment than they should have, while putting others in the background to tease you. What's doing for round two in NYC?
Well, first, host Craig Robinson tells us what happened previously on LCS, which was that nine comedians received tickets to the semifinals. Wait a minute! Nine??? That cannot be right, no matter how you edit it, because they let 12 people through on the night I watched live and in person, and apparently another 12 in the other showcase, so already, you and I know that there are going to be some comedians who were happy a few months ago, but who are going to be much less happy tonight.
Cue the actual and the artificial tension!
Brian McKim — for people born before the Y2K bug wiped out the first version of the Internet, you may know him as "The Male Half" of Shecky Magazine — gets the first uncredited one-liner of the evening, followed by a montage of comedians we should expect to be seeing later in the hour. By the way, if anyone has been watching all of the pre-season promos, Robinson is sneaking in his proposed catchphrase mantra for the season: "Be about it!"
We officially start the night off with Jerry Rocha, from Dallas, who says he has been a professional stand-up for eight years, and vows to hug anyone and everyone if he doesn't advance. He jokes with the judges about his racist uncle who doesn't quite get racial jokes. Our judges are given the superimposed title of "Comedy Jurist" this evening, which sounds much more foreboding than before, when they were judges. Now they're judges and jury? Me no get it. But me still likey Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo, so me no stop recapping. Calise Hawkins apparently is from Illinois (I know her as a Jersey girl, where she lives now, while you simply know her as a single mother with a big Afro!), and she takes us into her home with her daughter, and how adorable are they? Kindler isn't a big fan of her material about a homeless guy on the subway, but he and Giraldo both think she's a good performer, and Leggero enjoyed it, so Hawkins gets another chance to perform. Mike Vecchione jokes about his New York City cop look, and I know and you know and we know that he is funny, and even Leggero, who happened to see Vecchione the other night at the Comedy Cellar agrees. Who wants a pretzel?
Zed is the future of stand-up comedy? Somebody better tell Ron Lynch about this competing comedy robot. "Is this a character you're doing?" Giraldo asks. A woman has a whip on the sidewalk. For some reason. Kindler talks about clowns and jugglers, and jokes about all comedians starting out as novelty acts. You remember Lenny Bruce the sword swallower, right? Kindler prefers seeing a comedian sweat. Take that, deodorant ad!
Kyle Grooms doesn't have to worry about that. He did an Obama impersonation in the early TV ads for this season, and he does it for the judges, too. Giraldo says he is not a fan of impersonations but knows that that's not a big part of Grooms' act, so no worries. He's through.
After some ads, we're out on the sidewalk, and the Italian guy who was first in line outside of Gotham Comedy Club gets a moment to talk to the camera, although they don't tell us who he is (or show him audition). They do show Ryan Hamilton, though, and this Idaho transplant jokes about Statue of Liberty boat tours re-creating the immigrant experience. Leggero notes that the crew loves him. "Never a good sign!" she jokes.
Hey, Natasha, what makes for a good comic? Oh, they're interesting. Here's Carmen Lynch, Jordan Carlos, Nick Cobb, Rob O'Reilly telling quick bits that showcase their interestingness. They all get approved for further performances. Nikki Glaser from St. Louis gets shown earlier in her hotel room, however, and says she did not deserve to make it past the semifinals the previous time she did the show. This time she's ready, she says. She jokes about her rules on sex and dating, and her last joke won Giraldo over, and Kindler can only reply in German, which is good, right? I don't know about the Rev. Bill and Betty Holland, who are not God's Pottery — who were finalists two years ago — and this launches an anti-Semitic montage. From Jewish comedians. Of course! Cut to Kindler with sad face. Cut back to comedians, unbilled, as Louis Katz, M. Dickson and others joke about the Jews.
After some more ads, we're back outside on the sidewalk line, as if that was still happening. Look at all of these people with day jobs who should not be quitting said day jobs. Someone without a day job is Myq Kaplan, seen packing up his bag because he does a lot of road work — do you see how metaphors and symbolism work? Do you pack your melons in your carry-on? Moving on. Myka (his girlfriend and also a stand-up) says to pack the celery and kisses him goodbye for that big trip all the way from Park Slope to Chelsea. He lists his hometown as Boston. Here comes Brian McKim, with his wife Traci Skene, and this is the official look at a couple and what if only one makes it dilemma that faces all reality TV contest shows. But McKim is funny off the cuff, and that's all Giraldo needed to hear. Now it's Jordan Rock, who despite being a brother of Chris Rock (what about being Tony Rock's brother?), he lists his hometown as the Georgetown, South Carolina, section of Brooklyn. Leggero wants to hear his best joke, and says yes, despite the fact that none of the judges laugh. Even he says his audition sucked, and as the youngest Rock, he vows to be funnier when he's 20.
Adrienne Iapalucci jokes about having a black boyfriend. Leggero thinks she's funny, Kindler thinks she is strange, which equals funny, and Giraldo thought she was hilarious. Looks good for her. Time for another montage. Jason Weems, Mark Normand, Traci Skene all get more yes votes. And just when things got moving, there's a yellow blob on stage for some reason, that reason being the "product integration" segment for Despicable Me. "Nice work, whores."
Time for the showcase! As with last week's episode, because they edited the two nights of showcases together, backstage and onstage, we catch glimpses of performers we hadn't seen before. Is that Stuckey and Murray behind Kyle Grooms? Also Dan Curry, with Kurt Metzger, who advanced last week? Yes, yes and yes. Robinson wasn't at the second showcase, so all of his on-camera utterances about this were taped before a different live studio audience. The magic of television, people.
Kyle Grooms comes up first, at least as we're playing it for you on the TV. Are you scared of a guy named Kyle who wears glasses? Nikki Glaser is jealous of couples, sometimes. Jerry Rocha talks about getting mugged the last time he was in NYC, by Hispanic guys, despite him being Mexican. He gets more than one joke, compared to the others. Foreshadowing, perhaps? Traci Skene is out of her comfort zone, and in real life it showed — for the TV, cut to a howling audience member after the punchline. Nobody knows how to react to Ryan Hamilton's Idaho residency, and he mocks New Yorkers for being provincial. Calise Hawkins is so happy to be out of the house without her daughter. Back downstairs to Gotham's lounge/bar and at the :40 minute mark on your recording devices, you'll see plenty of comedians showcased earlier plus more, including Tom Shillue, Andrea Henry, Luke Cunningham. Myq Kaplan joke about performing at engineering schools, being a vegan and boobies. Yay, boobies! Yaybies! Judges laughing. Audience members laughing. Clapping ensues. Looks good for Myq.
Carmen Lynch talks to the camera before going onstage, as does Brian McKim. How will they do? McKim has a dry delivery, and his response to getting a flu shot is getting a good response. Does that make sense? Lick once for yes, twice for yes yes, thrice for yes yes yes. Lynch gets distracted by medical analogies, especially when you hear you cannot put an egg back into a chicken. Mike Vecchione talks about his best-case scenario, then goes onstage and when he jokes about mixing drugs with sports that don't seem to mix well, it looks good for him, too. Rob O'Reilly jokes that he looks like a pedophile and a pedophile victim. His joke about comparing apples and oranges rubs some audience members the wrong way, though. Jason Weems wants to know who let Magic Johnson speak at Michael Jackson's funeral service. Adrienne Iapalucci notes that a nanny is a good job for someone who hates kids. Nick Cobb remembers the differences between the times in your life you are on one knee, and the times you're on both knees. It's a solid bit, but I feel like he undersold it. Not that that stopped the audience from enjoying it.
There's an ad for more Last Comic Standing and Tom Shillue is shown at the end of it. Hmmm….
Who will make it? David Cope is seen behind Nikki Glaser as she wonders that herself. Others tell us how much they want this. But wanting this does not equal getting this. We're using a lot of close-ups because they've edited this around, and moving on to the next round, according to our TVs, are: Jerry Rocha, Carmen Lynch, Kyle Grooms, Mike Vecchione, Jason Weems, Ryan Hamilton, Nick Cobb, Adrienne Iapalucci, Myq Kaplan, Nikki Glaser…and the last comic moving on is…Brian McKim. Brian's wife Traci is elated, and meanwhile, in the door's glass window behind them, there's the giant forehead of a certain comedy blogger.
So we're moving on to the semifinals. Take the 11 names they told us just now, plus the nine from the top of the hour, and that's 20, or four less than what really happened, but actually five less, since one of those moving on to the semis hadn't really done so. Which, of course, makes me wonder how they're going to edit those five and more out of the semifinal footage next week. I'm sure I can occupy my time with other matters, too. How about you?