Last Comic Standing, Season 8, “Semi-Final Day 1” RECAP

“We started with 100 of America’s funniest comedians.” Or so the voiceover guy tells us.

But now we have 28 semifinalists, and tonight 14 of them battle for five spots, with guest mentors Amy Schumer (past Last Comic finalist) and Wanda Sykes (current Last Comic executive producer) giving them pointers.

Point your recaps to stun!

Were you stunned by the sight of the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in Universal City? Because that’s where they’re sending semifinalists to meet their mentors.

First up: Jimmy Shubert. Sykes and Schumer want to break down what Shubert had going on in his audition set. Sykes noted the judges noticed “a hiccup in your set.” Let’s go to the videotape and freeze-frame on that. Not that Shubert wants to relive a moment where he hesitates, mid-thought, mid-set. Shubert blames it on a clock that’s ticking down to his deadline to wrap it up already. Schumer? “I would think for you, the biggest struggle would be that you’re used to these long sets where you have all this time, and now, it’s, like, almost like, soundbites.” And that, my friends, is a soundbite about a soundbite. OK. Now, hold on just a moment. Because these two comedians are asking this other comedian who’s been on the road as long as the two mentor comedians and get onstage in front of just them and the crew and do some stand-up? Is. This. Real. Life?

And now for his actual semifinal set in front of an actual live audience of people who didn’t pay to be there but snapped up free tickets all the same, along with our regular trio of judges — Russell Peters, Roseanne Barr and Keenen Ivory Wayans — and a set beginning in a “psych ward at 30,000 feet,” aka a commercial airliner. Did he tighten up his “therapy cat” bit enough to impress us all? #DrinkyTimeSquirrel Our judges weigh in. Wayans: “You’re a guy who just rants about the world.” As opposed to jokey jokes? “No, it’s great.” Roseanne gave him perfect scores, without scores. Peters compared him to “Tyson in his prime.” Mike Tyson. Not the Tyson chicken. In case you needed a clarification.

Next up: Mike Vecchione. He’s clearly unclear about the whole doing jokes in front of just Schumer and Sykes, so Schumer tries to put him at ease. “You know. I did this. I went through this process, so if I could like, help at all…” Alrighty then. Schumer advises Vecchione to be ready to throw away all of his tags since the live studio audience will be hotter than a club crowd. Audience did not give him a standing o for his opener mocking his own haircut, though. How about the cocky dads with baby pouches bit? ┬áTurns out it’s a joke about a whole other thing, too! Applause. Wayans liked him but thought he didn’t have the same “swag” as his first set. Roseanne also liked his first impression better. Peters liked his “baby Bjorn” bit because he wished he’d thought of how to say it first.

After an ad break…

Karlous Miller is back. Miller tells the mentors he doesn’t really prepare or remember his sets. How about rehearsing just this once? Schumer asks. OKkkkkkkkkkk. Good thing, because the ladies DO NOT CARE FOR HIS THOUGHTS ON WHAT YOU CALL A LESBIAN IN ALASKA. Segue to a Snickers joke? Nope. “White people, white people!” Cool. In front of the full audience, he jokes about driving under the influence (of weed) in California, and women “tricking us” into being parents. And something about a homeless guy who likes to say “baby bird” — but all I can think of is how that’s also the catchphrase of Chris D’Elia’s character on Undateable on NBC in the previous hour! Miller says he had a crush on “Darlene” growing up, so having Roseanne praise him means the world to him. The other judges love him, too.

Tommy Ryman goes to the crowd without the benefit of a pre-show mentoring session (as far as we’re shown). Apparently, everyone thought he was gay when he was a kid. He loves women! We all love women! Cool. No time for the judges’ comments, either. Not cool.

Not seen on TV: His full performance.

Chloe Hilliard also gets the partial set treatment this time around. Is it because she’s open about her “fat girl sweatpants”?

Mark Normand, also only partial credit, and like Ryman, also presented to us only as a guy who is not gay and likes the ladies. Am I right, ladies? He did hate girls when he was 6, though. Is that cool? Normand sounds in this set like he’s fighting a cold or something, too. Feel better soon, Mark! Oh, wait. It’s already sooner now, since they taped it a couple of months ago. Hooray for the elapsing of time!

Cut to Tracey Ashley, also apres introduction. She is “real country, ya’ll.” Just ask Slappy Mae! Did Tracey hear about the HIV and AIDS from Slappy Mae? She certainly didn’t hear about no damn hippos. We do get to hear the judges weigh in on her, though. “The Slappy Mae is hilarious,” Wayans said. OK. Just the one judge.

Here is more from her:

I don’t own a Kindle, so this ad doesn’t win me over, even with “the Amazon lady.” Especially now that I know she can’t even see me if I owned that Kindle? Ugh. Parlor tricks.

And we’re back.

Aida Rodriguez, as you may recall, had a few words for people who had words for her after viewing her audition. Sykes gives her the, “ah, ok” reply upon learning Rodriguez has been doing stand-up for six years. Schumer disagrees with Wayans, who tried to get Rodriguez to divert focus away from her looks onstage. You got to be all you can be, girlfriend! I’m paraphrasing Schumer here. “This is my moment. I’m going to be myself and go out hard and sell it.” Those are Schumer’s words. After seeing Rodriguez, Sykes agrees that she needs to be more confident and sell those jokes. Meanwhile, in the theater, Roseanne is bopping to the intro music like she’s Paula Abdul in her Idol era. She jokes about what it means to be a Puerto Rican in this day and misapplied stereotype age. Her mom doesn’t speak English around others, for some reason? And confidence? She brings it in dating, and explains that’s why she’s a single mom. Wayans is more impressed now that he’s less focused on her looks. Peters says “it’s hilarious when you take control of what is wrong with you.” Roseanne thinks “you could take it all” because she hasn’t seen anything like her.

Backstage, we’re led to believe that 100-72 = 28, and cutting it down to 10 from that will be “tough, tough, tough.”

Yamaneika Saunders echoes that sentiment. Onstage, she jokes about her awkward under-boob sweat. And other things that end up down under. And just like that…

(and yet, here is online-only, the rest of her performance)

Mike Gaffney is up next, roaring into his next premise. Which concerns his daughter’s Facebook status updates. Which concern him. Especially when she likes her own status.

Cut to DeAnne Smith, holding a uke. With a song for everyone. I guess? Wonder what else she did in her set, though…

Oh, here is the rest of her set, online-only (not broadcast on the TV!):

No time for that. It’s Nick Guerra‘s turn, to tell us he does not care for horror movies any longer. Particularly the “found footage” genre. Heck, the walk to his car in the parking lot afterward is scarier. For him, we get to see what the judges have to say. Or just Roseanne, who says she was “let down” because his first set was so big. “I’ll do it the next round!” Guerra promises. Does he know something we don’t?

Online-only, it’s Guerra’s full set:

After another ad break…

It’s Monroe Martin! “One bit of constructive criticism,” Sykes offers: Animate some of your jokes. Let’s go to the videotape for evidence from the auditions. Or hang on the smile and big laugh, Schumer suggests. You know. Do something, Monroe! You figure it out! Someone told him that the judges want to see something better than last time out of these contestants, because that’s what he says his plan is. He jokes about attending Martin Luther King Jr. High School. If you see your school in a documentary movie, then, well, you already know a few things about his school. He also defends attention deficit as an ability, not a disorder. Also, dragons! Roseanne loves him and his writing, as does Wayans, as does Peters. Wayans still wants to see some more energy onstage, at least a little bit here and there.

We’re running low on time. Next up: Joe Machi! Machi downplays his effort in front of the mentors, but they stress it’s not luck that got him this far. It’s his hard work. Onstage, he jokes about a couple who worries about bringing a child into the world, “the way it is now.” Now? Compared to how it was 200 years ago? Know your history, as Machi does. 9/11, never forget Joe’s breadsticks.The judges loved him. Peters loved his smiling trick, too.

And now here’s video footage of Machi:

Who gets the five spots in the finals???


Did you guess those names already having read and watched the episode? Too bad. Or, great! See you next week for the second half of the semis, where another 14 comedians compete for the final five spots.

Via Hulu, the full episode for your viewing pleasure (where applicable)

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.

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