Previously, we watched this seventh season of NBC's Last Comic Standing through the magic (and sometimes witchcraft) of several-weeks tape delay. The comedians themselves could have forgotten how their performances had gone, only to see them slightly changed in the editing room. But not now. Now the final 10 have flown and/or driven to Glendale, Calif., for same-day competition, with morning tapings set for broadcast that same evening. They would know, and we would know, how it all shakes down today.
Oh, and our judges — Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo — all have returned to the arena of comedy battles, all of them also fresh off of their own performances at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival. Host Craig Robinson opened with a LeBron James joke before re-introducing us to the LCS 7 Top 10. Would the results of last week's voting be drawn out for the full hour, a la American Idol? Nope. Not too long at all for four comedians, as Roy Wood Jr., Mike DeStefano, James Adomian and Myq Kaplan are asked to step forward (all others, Robinson says, should shuffle offstage). Robinson gives the OK to DeStefano, then Wood. It's down to Kaplan and Adomian, who exchange creepy smiles at each other awaiting their fate, as only one of them will continue onward. It's Kaplan! Who in his close-up, breathes a very realistic sigh of relief. Adomian, meanwhile, is still smiling and also now clapping. I talked to Adomian in Montreal, and based on what he told me, I don't think he was surprised at all. The producers play an "In Memorium" for him, which also includes his pre-taped farewell, in which he declares: "America, next time, don't look a gift horse in the mouth." He holds his head high and off he goes.
First performer of the evening is Mike DeStefano. He says thanks for keeping him on, and tells us he bought some soap that cost $75. "Does it clean shame?" he asks. He also doesn't know how to express his feelings to a woman on a dinner date, because all he feels is hungry. "Deep down inside, I'm really hungry." He gets an applause break when he's asked why he is at couples therapy (presumably asked by the therapist), and says it's because the woman is broken and needs to be fixed. Blaming people for his problems? "That's my mother's fault. Sorry, mom." He continues with the idea that he's not good with therapy. Nor is he good with a woman on a first date who thinks they've been together for much longer than that. Last week, no judges around to influence the audience. But they're back. Kindler calls DeStefano "frightening and lovable" and makes up his own scoring: 5 HAs! Leggero has kind words for him, even if he doesn't have kind words to say about women. Giraldo wasn't listening to Leggero (tag!) but also liked him.
Robinson teases the first commercial break by saying we'd get to hear from "Internet sensation Mel Gibson."
After the break, he gets in a dig on "The Bachelorette" airing in competition with them on ABC, saying that show is even sadder than knowing three comics will have to go home. "There's a reason why she's single," Robinson said.
Roy Wood Jr. opens by saying: "Good to see you guys. I just did a show in South Dakota. Because I like performing where there's no people." Looks like we're getting more of his "sports bar" chunk, and notes that America is still exciting even if we did not win the World's Cup. And he thinks the world is better for that, because some countries hate us for political reasons, and he compares it to having the Lakers lose to Al Qaeda. "That would suck," he said. I'm not sure about this, because it would mean we'd know where they were and could trap them all, so let's hope those terrorists get off of the jungle gyms and start learning how to shoot hoops! But back to Wood. He realizes that at age 31, he will not be paying off his student loans. Note to Wood: If you win the $250,000, the college loan people probably will notice. Look at me, shooting all sorts of truth holes into his fictional premises. Moving to L.A. from Alabama, he has noticed there are more Latinos in this country than black people, to which audience members hoot and holler. "You're winning, shut up," he retorts quickly. Wood doesn't understand why black people are mad about Mexicans and other people wanting civil rights, since, he notes, wasn't that the point? More of a statement than a joke, that last one, but he comes off well in his set. Leggero gives him advice on his college loans, but calls him likeable. Giraldo jokes that he didn't like Wood's "pro-Mexican" material, and Kindler agrees, but says he cannot get away with saying "blacks and Mexicans." On a more substantial note, he also said that he loved Wood's voice and would listen to anything he had to say.
Up next: Myq Kaplan. Kaplan says he is "half-black and half-Mexican" and hopes "they can make me look less Jewish in post, I hope." After that quick tag off of Wood, Kaplan opens with his bit about a bad storyteller who goes to you for confirmation of facts that you don't have. He seems slightly out of breath as he thanks the audience for an applause break, then explains why the sports guys at school thought he was gay. He compared the notion of "gay-friendly" by bringing up "black-friendly" and "Jew-friendly." More applause. He doesn't want to go over his time, so he cuts it short, maybe. Giraldo says Kaplan handled the applause perfectly. Kindler doesn't know how America is going to vote, but he says he would vote for Kaplan, even if he legally could not do so. Leggero says Kaplan doesn't seem gay to her, and sells us on his jokes. I'm not quite sure what he's selling with all of his hand gestures as Robinson reads his phone number, though. But did he sell you on him, America? So far, so good.
We're back, and there are four more comics about to learn their fates. Robinson said three will be happy, one will be sad. I'm paraphrasing. "One of them will be eliminated from the competition, Mafia-style," he says, before saying that person is Laurie Kilmartin. Tommy Johnigan, Rachel Feinstein and Felipe Esparza are safe for now, but must compete tonight. Kilmartin bit the bullet in last week's episode and didn't deliver one of the strongest sets, so again, not a total surprise here.
Which leaves Rachel Feinstein as the lone woman in the final seven. She opens her set by talking about a recent trip to Vegas, where she met a real douchebag named Chad or something like that, who proceeded to tell her (as she slips into voice) what Vegas really about. She slips into an older voice to deliver another idea about what Vegas was about. Her old-timey persona managed to sass the guy over to another group of women instead. "You girls have got to come up to our room. We have vodka up the ass," she reports he said. Kindler liked that she stuck with one topic and used multiple character voices. Leggero complimented her on her legs, but disagreed with her choice of closing line. Giraldo jokingly apologized that he was that Vegas d-bag. Robinson isn't sure why, as he reads her phone number, why, oh, why aren't we using text messaging in this show. "I don't know!"
Tommy Johnagin sports a tie and nice slacks, and when women whoop their approval at his announcement that he is "freshly single," he responds by pointing out how much he already has sweated through the armpit of his blue shirt. Self-deprecating! Nice touch? Johnagin also has that classic 10:30 a.m. shadow going on with his facial hair. He tells us what the "hot girl" at the bar is all about. He is heartbroken over his breakup, and only wants to talk to other heartbroken people. The difference is as easy as telling someone you read your ex's email for a month after the breakup. Oh, and his ex got engaged to someone else a month after she had broken up with him. I bet he read about the news first. Johnagin got a bonus applause break for congratulating the judges for moving on to the next level. He also had a quick quip when Leggero said it wasn't her favorite set of his. Giraldo liked it. Kindler loved that he showed us his sweat. Wait a minute! Wasn't a comedian who famously said in an advertisement: "Never let them see you sweat." It was! It was! Do you know who it was? I do.
Roll the classic clip!
And we're back. Felipe Esparza strides onstage with confidence, befitting a man such as himself who lives in a gated community and a restaurant parked in front of his house. Although the restaurant got robbed right after he paid for his burrito, but before he got his burrito. The haunted house in his neighborhood is also rough: "It cost $20 to get in, $30 to get out." He has a new game-show idea for immigrants. And he closes with a bit about forgetting the words, remembering only the colors to his favorite songs thanks to Guitar Hero. It's all very quick and fast from premise to premise toward the end there. Giraldo said he crushed; Kindler agreed. Kindler said his opinion of the act was "roller-coaster" although he really liked the haunted house bit. Leggero says his jokes are easy but people love them. That's probably because people love easy jokes. Why do you think hack comedians are hated but also working? Vicious circle!
We have two comedians remaining, but only of them will be continuing in the competition. I wonder if they're sweating as much as Johnagin was. Since they're Jonathan Thymius and Maronzio Vance — neither of whom delivered an especially winning set in last week's episode — I'm betting they're sweating a whole lot, even if it's only on the inside. You can sweat on your insides, can't you? "Who will be sent to Mel Gibson's hot tub of misery?" Robinson asks. Hot Tub Time Machine! Thymius is still alive. Vance shakes his head. Oh no, too late. Time for him to go. Vance called this "a learning experience" that he was happy to be a part of.
Jonathan Thymius was so slow and low-key in last week's episode, and he says he "is on a roll," although his first joke about finding out he wasn't the devil, because the details were in his underpants, doesn't exactly prove that theory. How about hearing about his home-school experience? Thymius jokes about his field trips to the liquor store, mother's boyfriend's house and his grandmother's house, are smarter but don't exactly set the studio audience house on fire. He finally mustered up the courage to go to a massage parlor, but didn't go for the happy ending, exactly. He also may be the first person to say on primetime network television: "I tea-bagged the toilet water." Would you like to see his impersonation of his friend, Marty? Off-beat. Too off-beat? Judges? Kindler isn't sure if Thymius is headliner material, but otherwise likes him. We move quickly through Leggero's and Giraldo's opinions.
Only five of these seven will continue on, based on your votes from tonight. Voting info! Although the way Robinson says it, it sounds as if only one comic will be eliminated, or at least as he says it, "see which comic will die on television." Oh, and in the fine print, in addition to NBC saying it does edit portions that did not affect the broadcast, it says that the $250,000 grand prize is split up as $200,000 in cash, and a $50,000 talent deal with NBC. Good to know, for the winner. I've got my ideas for who makes it. What did you think?