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Last Comic Standing, Season 9: Invitationals, Part One

LAST COMIC STANDING -- Episode 901 -- Pictured: (l-r) Roseanne Barr, Judge; Norm Macdonald, Judge; Keenan Ivory Wayans, Judge -- (Photo by: Ben Cohen/NBC)

NBC's Last Comic Standing opened its ninth season last week with an homage to famous competitors from past years who weren't famous then. "Over the last eight seasons, one show has launched some of the biggest names in comedy," the voiceover announces, as the visuals show you past glimpses of Amy Schumer, Cristela Alonzo, Lavell Crawford. None of them won Last Comic. Iliza Shlesinger did. So take those odds for what they're worth!

Are you ready for comedians to be compared and judged?!

We have a new judge, Norm Macdonald, and a new host, Anthony Jeselnik, who lets us know how he feels about it by saying: "Welcome to yet another season of Last Comic Standing!" Jeselnik introduces the judges with Roast-like barbs, and will continue to poke fun at them, the comedians competing and the proceedings as a whole.

And now it's time to see who made the cut and received invites to the "Invitationals" round!

Ryan Conner from Virginia gets a field-produced package to profile him before he takes the stage -- which we should remember does not guarantee a free ride to the finals, or even past the Invitationals -- although in his case, seeing all of his 11 brothers from their mixed-up backgrounds (he has adopted brothers and step-brothers) provides essential background for us to connect with material on how racism and racists confuse him and others.

Taylor Tomlinson (gets profiled, too) from Ohio started at 16 in churches. Dropping out of community college, "giving up on quitting." Know your hotness number. Keenan says she's a 10 in comedy. Norm says she's wiser than she claims. Roseanne says she kicks ass.

Mehran Khaghani, from Boston (third profile package in a row!), pronounces himself a gay "Iranian homo" who isn't welcome to be himself in his ancestor's homeland, but he's riding that horse past death to reach Hollywood success. Roseanne says he's one of a kind, Keenen says he forgot the jokes, Norm says it's impossible not to love him.

And now, time for comedians without proper introductions or full sets:
Nick Allen
Kyle Grooms
Chris Fairbanks
Julie Scoggins

K-Von sounds like Owen Wilson, and the judges put Jeselnik on the spot by saying even the audience thinks K-Von is more handsome. How about a hand for good-looking comedians?!

DC Ervin (full set shown) doesn't want to scare the white lady at the ATM, and spins the bit in such a way that finds favor with the judges.

Moses Storm receives a profile package that shows him with his single mom and their yard-sale business? Storm (a New Face in Montreal at the same time this was airing in America on NBC) jokes about Über and acts out the difficulty of interpreting Los Angeles parking signs, which the judges absolutely loved.

Ian Bagg performs a full set, and full disclosure -- Norm has smoked cigars with Ian, and loves his crowd work, which we didn't see here, but you should expect to see that and more of Ian? Probably.

Time for more brief snippets and one-liners...
Caleb Synan's dad doesn't know how to use a phone.
Rob Haze wonders when gluten will come back.
Kendra Cunningham worries about her paws.
Mike Lebovitz doesn't like bank credit fees.

Ms. Pat closes the hour with a full profile to see her children -- whom she started having by the time she was 15 -- and in her set, she's not only done with shopping at Lane Bryant, but also done being shot and hit by dump trucks. True stories!

Judges debate! Who goes to semis? Tomlinson, Bagg, Conner, Pat, Mehran, Storm, Ervin, and K-Von.

The second hour opens with a full set from Ambrose Jones III, who jokes about ending the family legacy, and aging past his credit score.

Esther Povitsky (full set) is much more poised now than when she was a Montreal New Face, and what is edgy in comedy? The judges debated it. Discuss among yourselves.

Sam Morril (full set) was separated from birth from his dad, and doesn't need to be rejected twice by anyone, thank you very much. Norm said he already has Sam going through to the next round, but when other judges push him on jokes, he pushes back. Rut-ro?

Crystian Ramirez (full set) was raised by mom and sister so he's not manly, by men's definitions. Staten Island makes him feel ugh. But did Norm like him? Did you?

Time for partial clips from comedians...
Kevin Bozeman wonders about a $5 9/11 security fee on flights in 2015.
Mark Schumacher says something and before I could write it, he's gone.
Kasaun Wilson knows his name is made-up.
Rhea Butcher isn't a fake name, and she has shot fish in a barrel. Just so you know. She knows.

Amy Miller (full set) moved from Oakland to Portland, and polarized the judges, not with her white trash jokes, but with her closer about black men having to catcall because they have precious time before getting shot by a cop. Can a white lady joke about this? The debate rages on.

And Jeselnik with a sick burn, not about who he's introducing, but about everyone you haven't seen or barely saw: "He's last but certainly not least, because we bury those people in the middle." Bryan Kellen from Denver wears a suit, but focus on his nose which kept him away from drugs. Although he's very physical high-energy. Funny like a clown funny. Keenen thought of old-school Carson when he wasn't picturing Kellen orgasming.

Who's moving on to the semis? Jones, Povitsky, Ramirez, Kellen, Bozeman, Miller!

That's 14 semifinalist so far, out of 26 comedians shown in the first two hours.

Tune in next Wednesday for the third hour of Invitationals!

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  1. Raquel Provance

    Moses Storm stole a Bill Hicks bit WORD FOR WORD last week. I hope he's knocked out tonight.


  2. david

    More analysis of whether the correct choices were made and the attributes of the judges, please, rather than just a list of performers with slim detail. For example, did Norm seem high or befuddled? Are Kennan's detailed observations on set construction perceptive? Isn't clear that each judge has already established some clear biases about what type of comics they favor/disfavor?


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