Last Comic Standing 7: The semifinals, Part One

Someone decided it was hot enough in here to buy some ice cream treats, stay home, and get giggly with it tonight. OK. Fine. It was so hot in NYC today that my brain obviously isn't working, so maybe the mush of the TV will make everything right in the world again. Either that, or Craig Robinson and a kitty cat will tell me it's time for the first part of the semifinals of season seven of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Finally we're getting somewhere. UPDATED: Now with video clips!

Are you ready for your first semifinalist, Myq Kaplan? I put the comma in the wrong place there, because he is more than ready, he is already done because this was a taped performance. Don't call in with your votes just yet. Kaplan is feeling bookish this evening, telling us about books, movies, and movies about books. Kaplan also is the first, at least if we're presuming they haven't edited the placement here, to have to deal with the hyped-up live audience at the Alex Theater in Glendale, Calif. Judges Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Andy Kindler all have nice things to say about Myq Kaplan. Kindler says Kaplan "absolutely killed" which means he lost the pool? "I can't think of a funnier line in comedy than Brad Pitt is in this book." And we're getting judges notes, as if it really is going to be the American Idol version of LCS. Then again, we did hear judges give notes to comedians during the semis in previous seasons, so maybe it's just time for a commercial break. Any predictions? I have one!

Jamie Lee is up next, and she admits backstage that she is terrified about being seen by millions on the TV. Too late! You're on TV! Lee gets whoops from audience members when she says she's originally from Texas, but wants to joke about her model roommate in NYC. Lee also mentions dating a comedian, and knowing it's bad when even their inside jokes were bombing. (Note: Lee already has told me that her jokes about her comedian ex are not really about her comedian ex, for those of you who were thinking about someone specific just then). Leggero says Lee has "huge potential," while Giraldo says it wasn't her best set. Based on these notes, you could swap them out with Idol, couldn't you? You could. You could.

Mike DeStefano wants to be so good, the audience sets the place on fire. I'm not sure that would actually be a good thing, but it makes for a soundbite. DeStefano jokes about how everyone in his neighborhood was Italian, including the old Chinese guy and the young black kid. Did you know that Italians shrink and get mean when they get old? This audience is so hot, they're hooting and handing out applause breaks for everything. DeStefano keeps saying "thank you, thank you" like a politician trying to get back to his stump speech. Because he wants you to know how he deals with pretty ladies. Kindler finds him "hilarious" and could not criticize any portion of his set. "And you have screamers," Leggero added. She asks about his Jesus tattoo, and DeStefano corrects her: "It's Jim Caviezel."

After a break, Kyle Grooms is introduced as "a seasoned comic" by Robinson. Grooms talks about being from New Jersey and getting no respect. "We're up there with Iraq," he joked. But, as he points out, you can buy a house in Detroit for $5. That's almost not a joke funny haha, but a joke that's too serious. Grooms also points out how some countries don't even have water, while we have entire theme parks based on water. And that's his time already? That went too fast. Kindler cracks that Grooms stole his opening line: "What's up, L.A.?" Kindler hints he enjoyed the harder-hitting bits. Leggero mentions Snooki, while Giraldo agrees that Jersey sucks.

Who's up next? It's Shane Mauss. Mauss said comedy is the only job he has ever been good at. He opens with his joke about waiting in line at an amusement park when there's a tragic accident. But why is he wearing a jacket? I'm the only person wondering this, I know. You, meanwhile, were putting your hand over your mouth gasping at his punchlines and tags on the amusement park bit. Shane mentions his girlfriend Maggie on TV once again (hooray, Maggie?!) to introduce a couple of jokes about boozing. Leggero said she likes comedians who are OK with an audience that groans. Giraldo jokes that Mauss has the same haircut as his eight-year-old son. Mauss feels like he has a good shot at making it.

Adrienne Iapalucci, a native New Yorker, cannot wait until she doesn't need to have a day job anymore. Meanwhile, she hasn't spoken to her mother in months, despite living in the same building. But she has good comebacks for her mother about children and parenting, and she makes the circle complete by being a nanny who hates kids. Kindler notes that Iapalucci has turned her disturbing life into hilarity. Giraldo says her Mother's Day joke is very very very more than TBS very funny. Felipe Esparza is saying something, but he sounds so stoned, I'm not sure anyone is sure what he said before he hit the stage. Maybe he was promoting Despicable Me? He thinks more people would take the bus if the windows were tinted. I'm not embarrassed! Then again, I don't sit in the far back of the bus, where Esparza quips that people there look like they were in the cantina scene from Star Wars. And Esparza even taped this bit before those new Adidas ads! He also has a good comeback for a woman he hit on who gave him hair and weight advice. The judges are not as pleased with him as they were with Iapalucci, although they note that the crowd loves him. Giraldo's backhanded compliment: "You are the funniest homeless guy." You can see the editors and producers have played with the order, as Lee seems to be waiting to go after Esparza after he walks offstage.

After another break, it's Jonathan Thymius, this time without a smoking jacket. He has good news and bad news for us, and it's about his stomach. Did he bust your gut with it? "Enough with this. Who wants to see some ventriloquism?" he asks. "Really?" Out comes the sock puppet, with the actual sock off of his actual foot. Or maybe not. You weren't expecting that, were you? The judges enjoyed his timing, while Giraldo called him "a true original." Up next is Chicago native Lil' Rel, who says he wants to prove to America that comedy is not dead (where in America are they saying that?). The setting for his first joke to prove that comedy is not dead? A funeral. A funeral! L to the OL. Just the one bit, which Kindler notes, and Leggero says it took a while to get to the first laugh.

Based on the first hour in the Eastern/Central time zones, more people were visiting my site because of Adrienne Iapalucci than the other semifinalists. In case you were curious enough to learn a random stat.

Jason Weems says he is still teaching kindergarten, but this show could change all of that, letting him perform for 18,000 people instead of 18, or whichever number he actually said. One morning in class, Weems notes that a little girl saw him eating a banana and said, "Ah, he is a monkey." Hold on a second! Kindler liked him; Leggero had a hard time connecting; Giraldo? He gave it a mixed bag, but closed with positivity. Ryan Hamilton jokes that he can always go back to being a valet parker. How'd you like to imagine Ryan Hamilton skydiving? With another man strapped to his back? Don't worry. You do not need to imagine this, because he will lead us through the process, with the jokes and such. Judges? Kindler admits his mind wandered. Giraldo and Leggero noted he was funny to watch, which is good for this job, and Leggero seems to be trying to be the judge to get audience reactions with the boos and such. Not the booze and such.

Paula Bel claims it's all about her — even though people told me she used a bit from a famous comedian in her first episode, so make of that what you will — and here she comes onstage, joking about Obama in the White House with the portraits of all of the old dead white guys. She says her health care comes from an old lady down the street. She also jokes about religious figures being father figures. And she'd like to see Temptation Island come back with priests, sharks and young Cuban boys. Um. "Wouldn't it be great if I just burst into flame right now?" There's a thought. She insults each of the judges. Wonder how that will work out for her? Jesse Joyce notes making the finals would be good for bragging rights in the ol' comedian locker room. You know. Joyce lets us know he played a comedian in a movie this year, and wants to make sure it wasn't stereotypical or passe (which must be a subtle callback to his backstage joke), and also lets us know he once had his car break down in one of the Pittsburgh tunnels, and how that could make him have to sit in the back of the traffic jam he started. The judges say Joyce is funnier when given more time, and no, Giraldo does not disclose what he already knows about Joyce (he has hired him to write for him, in case you were wondering what he would disclose), but I'm not sure that's going to matter in 43 minutes, even though I wish I could disclose what I already know I know. Are you following me?

After another break, Rachel Feinstein tells us backstage that her style is storytelling and not set-up-punch, because we've already been told by the judges about this in the show. But what about dating a guy with big hips? Or what if he doesn't even have a manly shape? Feinstein demonstrates this for us, as well as her old grandmother's voice and mannerisms to describe dating now vs. then. Nice words from the judges. Will we be hearing more new terms such as "calming smear" this season from Feinstein? What will we hear, meanwhile, from Kirk Fox? He was humble during his initial audition. Here, he doesn't have his mustache. Nor does he have time for hecklers. And he knows how much time he has left. In life. Or at least he knows the how, if not the when. Fox seems quirky up there in front of the big crowd. Kindler says Fox needs to commit to the mustache. There's an extra layer of funny because the judges know some of these comedians quite well as peers, so you can get an interplay here that you wouldn't see on any other TV reality competition.

So why is Amanda Melson doing Last Comic Standing? She acknowledges she probably should have figured that out, wink wink. She may have hair that looks like she was home-schooled, and may not look cool, but her workplace tried to be cool. Well, at least she doesn't have juvenile diabetes. Uh, oh? What now? Let's ask Chip Pope. He doesn't want to die in his apartment. Who does? Who. Does. Pope is happy Chris Rock didn't enter LCS this season. Pope also has jokes about working in an office, and tells the audience to hold their applause when he tells them he is gay, because his family was too poor for him to have a closet from whence to come out. Pope then sing-jokes his way through a typical new Paul Simon song. Taking on Paul Simon! "It's about time," Leggero quips. Judges seem happy for the most part. Host Craig Robinson, by the way, is going with an understated style and some cutting material. So far, so good!

Down to our final semifinalist, and it's Alycia Cooper. I was hard on her earlier, and that's mostly because of things that I'm not sure I can fault her personally for, so let's give her another chance. Cooper goes with jokes about airport security, and Tiger Woods cheating. Judges? They liked a couple of her cheating terms: "side pieces" and "cheating up." Wait. There's one more. Here comes David Feldman. You may have seen him in the past few weeks as a creative consultant in the audience of the Green Room with Paul Provenza on Showtime. Feldman jokes about advice for dealing with fights at school, and wonders about the concept of female boxing. After all of the hooting and hollering from the audience tonight, nothing when he mentions doing a charitable gig? Interesting. That's what he said. "The crowd gets in the way," is what he actually said to the judges about the periods of silence.

If you think you know who's making it to the finals based on editing, then, well…

You'd be mostly right.

Wait. Why is Jamie Lee crying already? How'd there get to be so many people standing on that stage??? I'm counting 23 people up there onstage, including…Joe List! Stuckey and Murray! Another guy I don't remember seeing during the actual broadcast! Group 1, please step forward. Who is Group 1? Only one of them is moving forward, and it's Felipe Esparza. Note how they cut the close-ups so you don't even see my boy Joe List. Oh well. Now for Group 2. Who is Group 2? Well, Myq Kaplan is, and that's what matters to Myq Kaplan! Grooms says he thought he was good enough, but apparently the judges felt differently. Group 3 has Rachel Feinstein! Her cast-offs were Fox, Iapalucci, Mauss and Weems. Feinstein says she has been at this for so long that she is "beyond happy." Iapalucci shrugs it off. She's still new enough at this that I think she has nothing to worry about. Group 4 is Lil Rel, Hamilton, DeStefano, Lee and Pope, but only Mike DeStefano moves on! Lee says "no more tears" while Weems is texting his defeat to somebody unspecified. That leaves just Joyce and Thymius. I wish both of them could move on, but only one of these guys will, and it's Jonathan Thymius. Joyce said he gets to go back to his fruitful comedy career, which should continue to be fruitful.

So there you have it. Your first five of the final 10 finalists are: Felipe Esparza, Myq Kaplan, Rachel Feinstein, Mike DeStefano and Jonathan Thymius.

Did you agree with the results? Are you going to agree with next week's?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

14 thoughts on “Last Comic Standing 7: The semifinals, Part One

  1. Rachel Feinstein blechhh! She has decent material but God it seems like the judges like how she does things rather than how good her jokes are. Mauss, Fox, Pope and Feldman were all way funnier than Feinstein. If you were gonna choose a token chick choose a funny one like Paula Bel or that nanny jokes chick. However I’m fine with DeStefano and Thymius who are two of the funnier talents to have ever been on the show.

  2. A lot of these people are already established. Doesn’t that go against the whole spirit of Last Comic Standing?

  3. I agree with James (above), if you are already a pro with an agent and a tricked out website and a special on Comedy Central let the jv folks have a chance. Your probably not a household name for a reason.

  4. Grooms’ stuff was the most interesting. It’s a shame he didn’t go through to the next round.
    Kinda bummed so many comics (not just on this show) are doing such ephemeral material. They’ll talk reverently about Hicks, Carlin, and Pryor, but then they’ll do 5 minutes on facebook. Pathetic.

  5. There’s no “spirit” of Last Comic Standing. It was never meant to be nor was it ever about amateur unproven comedians getting their lucky break.
    Doug Benson once calculated that it would take 11 top-notch, A-list material, polished sets of 5 minutes to make it from the first audition to the championship…and you’ve got to be a comedian with some miles on your comedy belt to pull that off…
    The only thing that this show has ever been is a relatively cheap way for NBC to fill some some air time and the only showcase on American network tv for ANY stand-up comedy.
    If the show is letting you down by not living up to what you’ve imagined it should be about, you’ve set too high standards for it.

  6. adrienne iapalucci!!! Hands down was the funniest person there!!! Can’t believe they picked the hot girl over her….

  7. Fox, Mauss and Pope were all robbed in my opinion. I’d gladly swap out Felippe Esparza for Shane Mauss and that terrible Feinstein braud for Adrienne Iapalucci.

  8. I am so glad Jonathan Thymius is still in it he truly is an “original” comic. I’m also happy with Kaplan and DeStefano. I’m hoping that Jacob Sirof, Kurt Metzger and Taylor Williamson bring it next week.

  9. kirk fox got robbed. the guy is the best comedian to ever own a house on the beach!

  10. I’m pretty sure I was introduced to Myq Kaplan via this blog a few years ago. I thought he was very funny, intelligent and the most astounding thing – very accessible.
    I knew he was destined for big things. Well deserved.

  11. Kirk Fox didn’t get shot on the top of his head, he got shot in the back by the judges!!! Had him rated THE BEST of the entire group.

  12. Rachel Feinstein was funny. The only thing that this show has ever been is a relatively cheap way for NBC to fill some air time and the only showcase on American network TV for ANY stand-up comedy.

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