Last Comic Standing 9: The Invitationals, Part 3

Last Comic Standing‘s third of four “Invitational” rounds continues to cut, cut, cut — so much so that if you’re not making it to the semifinals, why bother showing us their audition? Eight of the 12 people featured in this hour will move onward.

Besides, as even host Anthony Jeselnik reminds us at the top of the hour: “Comedians are total cowards.”

There will be no fighting, onscreen or off, for a place in the semifinals.

Let the passive-aggressiveness resume!

Drew Thomas wears a hat but not while talking. But he wants us to know he has a hat. He put his hat on the microphone stand during his set, in which he talked about dating, women, cars and clubbing, but I kept wondering what his hat would say about all of this. Back at the human lips and voice-active part of Drew Thomas, he’s joking how men and women look at an upcoming marriage differently. Women view it as the happiest day of their lives, while men talk as if the groom and newlywed husband has been diagnosed with a disease. Who knew?!? Anyone who has been in a comedy club in the past 60 years. Other than them, it’s new to you. And the hat goes back on for judges comments! Is it Jamaican Keenen Ivory Wayans happy? He took notes but ditched them, since he’s old enough that he knows what vaccine marks actually mean on a lady. Roseanne said the hat “was the worst thing you did.” Norm said Drew reminded him of the late great Patrice Oneal. “He had his own truth” and left a huge void, Norm said. I’m not sold on Drew filling this void, but I’ve only seen him tell three minutes of jokes. What else ya got?

From Chicago, Mike Siegel has broke snob friends. Describing that paradox earns him an applause break. Are they broke, too? Or just snob-haters? We’ll never find out. Siegel describes firing himself for the unemployment, and enduring a TV-watching session with a girl’s parents, and the latter takes me back to an awkward place. Roseanne loved his POV. Norm called Mike his favorite type of comedian, and then, just like last week’s episode, began offering tags! Mike claimed he had the tag to his firing himself bit, but cut it for time. So there. Keenen implied that Mike is old. Could he see his vaccine scars?

Our first of three backstories goes to Andi Smith, whom you may remember auditioned for Last Comic years ago and was really funny but didn’t get picked. Since then, she has become a mother and moved back in with her parents to become a working mom comedian. Is this piece meant to make us relate to Andi, or feel sorry for her and hope she earns enough money to get back out of the house? Either way, she has a bunch of mom jokes now, and a mom’s perspective on a TV news story about putting kids in cages (hint: she’s all for it now!). Birth plans get discussed. How would you like to meet your mother? Norm called her strong, but strongest on her delivery. Keenen loved her style. Roseanne loved her audaciousness and stage presence “and you could win!” Ringing endorsements all around!

Joe List! If you saw List on Letterman last year, then this set will sound familiar to you (reminder here). How amazing was that? Roseanne asks, not rhetorically, because it’s all pretty precise in her mind. Norm, on the other hand, knocks him down a peg by suggesting List’s future is as a comedy writer. Nice pay if you can keep it, but hey, what now? Keenen somehow always manages to say at least one thing per episode that you’d wish he kept to his inner voice. Tonight, he blurts out how much he loved visualizing Joe’s joke about having an erection during yoga class. The funniest thing by far, though, happens when Joe plugs his album as a way to remind Norm that he’s a professional stand-up comedian. Jeselnik immediately pounces on Joe. Dig. A. Hole. A very funny hole.

Sheng Wang says backstage he used to call himself Jerry as a teen, and saved jokes for later last year. Later turned into this year! Whoopsies! At least Sheng gets to audition again. No harm done, right? He’s back and now ready to inform you that you cannot make a great joke about his name. “I regret to inform you but your hate is weak.” As for non-obvious points: The ability to use your credit card to buy weed in 2015 really makes it easier for credit card companies to know whether someone has stolen his card for future reference. Roseanne loved his tag for that bit, which means no tag offers needed, thank you Norm. Instead, he says: “You’ll be around at the end, for sure.” The end of the competition? The end of this hour? Be precise, Norm, please? Sheng’s future depends upon this! Or so we’re meant to believe. Keenen believes Sheng brought his A game this time, which is weird, since there are no As in Sheng.

And now time for the middle portion of the hour, where comedians get short shrift onscreen and in my notes.

Backstage Kevin Lee says he started as street performer on Venice Beach. Juggled knives, balls.

Shelagh Ratner revealed they weigh you at LAX to see if you can stay.

Brad Loekle‘s mom reactions to him being gay is queer.

Amir Gollan was an extra in home movies.

Martin Morrow slips into 1970s music, R&B then vs 1990s. Keenen thought it felt familiar, Roseanne found it electrifying, while Norm…nope no Norm allowed. Sorry Norm.

Priya Prasad from Bellevue, Wash., gets a backstory to take her to back to Bellevue, where she’s hanging at home with her parents. Culture clash over generations! Immigration! Melting pots! But wait. Priya wants you to know she is The Shaq of Indian women, which is great if she wants to be in the WNBA and maybe great if she wants to host a touring stand-up comedy showcase, and who knows what that means for a comedy competition. Can she rebound from a bad joke? Can she make a free throw? Keenen notes in the secret notes for the judges cheat sheet that Prasad only has five years of stand-up experience, and cites that as a detriment. Norm says she needs to write jokes, but advises her against doing just that, instead suggesting she become a member of The Groundlings and become a comic actress. He cites well-known actress Will Ferrell as an example. Roseanne rises to Priya’s defense and said she brought some “fierce jokes!” to the stage. The numbers do not seem promising in this hour, though.

Shakir Standley rounds out the hour, and his backstory doesn’t feature his real parents — although it does include his comedy godfather at Wild ‘N Out on MTV2, where he works for Nick Cannon. So Standley already has a TV development course mapped out, sort of. Which means Cannon’s endorsement is half-hearted. “Come in like fourth!” Cannon instructs. Shakir’s set showcases his weirdness. He likes soup! He took a friend’s advice and tried stand-up on a moving train. He’s not friends with that person anymore.

Roll the clip!

Just like that, it’s time for eliminations.

Moving on to the semis? Sheng Wang, Joe List, Mike Siegel, Drew Thomas, Andi Smith, Amir Gollan, Brad Loekle and Shakir Standley. Could you have guessed that? Yes and no.

Next week, our fourth and final round of “Invitationals.”

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 →