If there ever were a challenge that I know I could have won on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, then this week’s Universal Studios Tram Experience challenge showed me the way.
Back in the late 1990s, while living in Seattle as a young stand-up comedian and improviser myself, I got hired on at the Space Needle as an elevator operator when the tourist attraction recruited myself and a group of improvisers from TheatreSports (Unexpected Productions). Even landed my audition on NPR! Anyhow. This is not about me, is it?
This is about the seven remaining finalists — Nikki Carr, Rocky LaPorte, Joe Machi, Monroe Martin, Karlous Miller, Rod Man, and Lachlan Patterson — and how they’d fare trying to entertain the tourists at Universal Studios.
Howie Mandel arrived on loan via sister property America’s Got Talent and promptly made self-deprecating jokes and enjoyed laughing at his and Rod Man’s respective racial and ethnic stereotypes — “My people don’t swim! Mine don’t either!” — before eventually everybody got down to business and tram riding. We learned from Carr that the biggest trick to working a party bus is “not falling down.” Well, they could sit for this challenge, so no advantage to you, girl. Although she did work “the only lady left” card to encourage the ladies on her tram to say her name, say her name.
Producers should have thrown up a huge SPOILER ALERT sign when they teased what was to come, because we clearly saw five of the finalists sitting in the audience during the head-to-head showdown. Do the math and you already knew Joe Machi would square off against Monroe Martin.
At least the teases didn’t lead to what could have been a big cop-out. We knew from a week’s worth of promotions that the judges would be stymied and that we’d see a huge FIRST on the series. Thankfully, that first wasn’t the judges leaving the decision to the comedy club audience at the Hollywood Improv.
Instead…they forced Machi and Martin to return to the stage, not once, but TWICE! Even Martin was shaking his head at the prospect of “sudden death” from one more joke. One joke? I took his head-shake as a self-fulfilling prophecy at work. Although perhaps he also knew the heat Machi was about to bring to the table. Pardon Machi’s own heat-bringing metaphors.
Also, too: Couldn’t help but be amused and perplexed that after one round, the judges couldn’t decide whether to applaud the guy who closed with a Hitler joke or the guy who closed with making us picture gay bear rape!
Here’s Joe Machi, round one:
Monroe Martin, round one:
Machi, round two:
Martin, round two:
Would you have picked Machi, also? I don’t know if I agreed with Martin’s argument about chicken. Sure, it doesn’t need to be organic. But do you really want tough meat? I want mine tender, juicy.
You can watch the entire episode here (Sorry, Canada. I’ll feel you next week) to see their final sudden death jokes, too. Machi’s was a blistering cultural critique via time-travel to talk to the Founding Fathers about gun control, and more.