"Welcome to Last Comic Standing, the best stand-up comedy contest on NBC." So sayeth host Craig Robinson, so sayeth we all.
Wait. Who's running the show, a bunch of monkeys? A lone chimpanzee? What's going on here?
I'll be sure to tell you all as soon as I can watch the rest of this two-hour episode — and update with videos as soon as they're up. This is the episode in which Tommy Johnagin zings judge Natasha Leggero for calling him competitive in a nationally-televised competition.
Alabama native Roy Wood, Jr., meanwhile, says before taking the stage that he has been at stand-up for 12 years, and well, why not him? "It's my turn to eat. Let me get some of this money." Why not? He opens with a joke about a date so bad, the woman makes you drop her off at another man's house. Damn. That's a bad date. But a good joke. He also has a funny story about trying to write out his will. Good start! The judges agree, from Andy Kindler to Leggero and also Greg Giraldo. Looking good for Mr. Wood. Even if he could not find a coat that fits to impress Giraldo.
After the first commercial break, Robinson has more self-deprecating quips up his sleeve. He's enjoying the gig, and I am enjoying him in this gig. Great work, team comedy! Now about this Fortune Feimster. She lets us know she is a lesbian (shhh, don't tell anyone), which is odd when she tells us about this guy who hit on her. This story, alas, does not have a happy ending. Kindler gets in a dig on Ellen DeGeneres for her dancing, and digs on Feimster. The other judges likewise smile fortune upon Ms. Fortune. Jerry Rocha says he does not want to be depressed for months if he does not win. Onstage Rocha wonders why any billboard about carpooling would be in Spanish, and whether it's a good idea to call to get his credit checked. There is some quibbling in judgment about his use of voices and races, but they seem to be more positive than negative.
Another break, and we're back with Guy Torry, who has been in the movies and on the TV, but according to Torry, they don't know about his stand-up comedy career. He wants to let the people know he is funny. Scratch that. "I'm trying to be the greatest, the greatest stand-up to ever touch the stage." Whoa, whoa. Settle down. It's good to set the bar high and all, but when you say something like that out loud, to a TV camera, usually you're setting yourself up for failure. He is taking a while to get to the laughs when he does not have a headlining amount of stage time tonight, and not only that, but when Torry says "negro," camera cuts to Giraldo squirming. Torry is talking a lot about Barack Obama and has a bit about why the KKK supporting Obama. Oh, and I almost forgot. Torry also used a Monica Lewinsky joke. In 2010. Afterward, he seems to think he crushed and also is not concerned about whatever Leggero has to say. And about that bet Torry wanted to make with Giraldo, in which he said Google the KKK supporting Obama? Torry won't want to click on the first link that comes up. Jacob Sirof wants us to know he has a wife and a kid and not much money from the comedy — that's the opposite of what Torry was boasting — and opens with a bit about how L.A. people are into the motorcycles these days, even if it means buying gay clothing. Not that he's got a problem with that, considering his stance on bros hugging bros. Nice tag, btw, on the "Google it" from Torry afterward. Then we see him, Torry and Maronzio Vance chatting backstage, and Torry says he had more fun bantering with the judges. Somehow I don't think he'll be having as much fun later that evening.
Nikki Glaser says she will cry whether she makes it to the finals or not. Foreshadowing? Glaser says she is single and recently performed for the troops, just for the applause breaks. She became single over Skype, on her terms. She also makes an unusual choice by promoting teen pregnancy and joking about getting an abortion. I'm not sure the primetime network suits will be on board with that, no matter what the judges may say. Taylor Williamson says he is charming and adorable, and well, wouldn't you know the audience is laughing at him as soon as he speaks, and then throughout his set, because they cannot believe his premise that he has a girlfriend, and then even laugh again when he admits he doesn't. Williamson also jokes about sex, but between animals (black poodles and white labs, camels). Everyone enjoyed it.
Hey, look everybody. It's Tom Shillue in an ad for PearleVision! Did you know he was in this semifinal round, too? No? What do you mean no?
In people who did not get cut from the broadcast, Robinson is joking that the show itself is still on the air. And he introduces this next comic as "possibly the next big thing in comedy." I suppose you could give that intro to everyone, though, couldn't you? Nick Cobb asks if anyone else has gotten dumped when they were stoned. Cobb has other ideas he shares with you about how to handle getting dumped. Leggero asks him how he felt about his set, and he says he went with newer material. Really? Another interesting choice for primetime TV for an aspiring comedian. Mike Vecchione, meanwhile, talks about being meticulous in his approach to comedy. His choice: Growing up Catholic. It's not exactly an anti-religious set, but he does joke about playing around with the church and his fellow churchgoers. Giraldo is trying to contain his laughter when Vecchione jokes about his dad's "boxing" lessons. He closes with a great bit about how daddys are gangstas now. Leggero says he is clever for someone who looks like a dummy, and Vecchione jumps on it for laughs.
Cristela Alonzo continues a running theme, and that theme is comedians telling us that this night is the biggest night of their careers. Her parents are so Mexicans, they are pinatas. So they're made of candy, right? Sweet! Oops, lost my train of thought thinking about candy. Alonzo is happy to have a name like Cristela because she knows when people are talking about her. No adjectives required. Except from the judges, who want more from her than they've seen. Kurt Metzger is nervous, but says he is "pretty awesome" at this. Opening with Tiger Woods jokes can be a risk, but Metzger wants to make a broader point about getting action on the road, or as he says, "getting knee deep in skosh," and also about golfers. He brings the New York bluntness. And what a line when he says he wishes they had told him in high school to be the best and get some ass, because then "I wouldn't be locked in a joke-fight to the death with my friends on a reality show." And then when Leggero asks him about actually getting action, Metzger mocks himself by saying he "looks like Mr. Bean if he were a rapist." Our next semifinalist, Robinson says, is an accomplished writer. It's Laurie Kilmartin, who says, much like Sally Field, she really really wants to be liked. She opens by telling us she got pregnant at 41, by surprise, obviously. She jokes about not wanting to parent all the time, and about a Russian boyfriend who doesn't think he has an accent. Then compliments are flowing.
We're into hour two, and Tommy Johnagin notes he made the semis of this show back in 2007, and wants to do better. Guess what? He will. Johnagin jokes about the very idea that people can create people accidentally, while other productions involve more of a production. He goes into great length on a bit explaining what it's like to kiss another person for the first time, and how that might not always go so well. But he does very well. So well, in fact, that he wonders as the judges talk if that means he gets to move on already. He does get his own segment, so good job, Johnagin!
Claudia Cogan says this is the biggest moment in Cristela Alonzo's career, thus making the circular logic complete in my head. Cogan says she looks like a kid. She also jokes about being a temp, and many people can relate to that, and how much fun that can be as a career lifestyle. We only see half as much of her set as we saw of Johnagin's, and the half we did not see did not impress the judges that much, because they say as much. Maronzio Vance will not guarantee a victory, but he would like to win that winner's check. He realized that when he applied for a job, they ran a credit check on him, which is circular illogical to him because that's why he was applying for the job was to get himself some credit. He tried taking his grandfather's advice, and that's a bit right there, too. Vance continues a positive trend, too, among some of the contestants who know how to respond to the judges on the fly with something funny.
Up next: Jason Nash. Another guy with a wife and kids who he apparently is not supporting through comedy. He uses his time on primetime TV to tell about a discussion he had with one of his children about when and when not to say "F— it!" to the world. Judges are on the positive. James Adomian has enough time after his TV confessional to grab a tie and grow a mustache before hitting the stage. First he has a beef with friends who want you to watch hundreds of hours of TV to catch up to said friend. But he really hits home with his impersonations, starting with Gary Busey and his crazy motivational acronyms, then taking judges and host's requests to do Jesse "the Body" Ventura, Andy Kindler, George W. Bush. And Giraldo?
Almost there…Carmen Lynch just wants to tell her jokes and have everything go OK. She says her previous dating history involved short men from other nations. Her sister, on the other hand, just had a baby who looked like a burrito. Well, in the blanket, anyhow. Lynch has other issues with babies and their fake crying and whatnot. Brian McKim says this show is a rebirth to his career after 30 years of stand-up, and that's a lot of Shecky Magazine backstory, but let's focus on his jokes, shall we, because they are funny jokes. He has a tip for you kids thinking about edible panties. I call his style wry and dry. Leggero compares him to an old screwball comedy, and she and Giraldo throw around old screwball terms. Kindler jokes about himself leaning into the mic as if to testify before Congress.
There looks there are 21 people standing on stage, but we only saw 18 of them perform. So that's three "unwinners" right off the bat. Sorry, Shillue! Torry's already carrying his luggage? Look who made it through from these semis to round out this season's final 10…
James Adomian! Roy Wood Jr.! Laurie Kilmartin! Tommy Johnagin! Maronzio Vance!
Instead of telling you who didn't deserve to advance, let me instead remind you all that this is casting for a reality show, and not merely about who is the funniest, so the producers want to cover as many demographics as they can for potential viewers. There weren't enough "slots" for everyone. But at least those we saw do well on the TV can let the comedy bookers know that they were on TV, and maybe, even if this was not their big breaks, then this will push them onward and upward.
If you want to tell me who you'd like to see in your alternate universe Top 10 from this season, though, kindly leave your submissions in the comments. Thanks!
We'll see the rest of you next Monday.