Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last Comic Standing: First Elimination Episode

Good Lord, why do I keep watching this show!?

I know I want to watch it because I love comedy. But every Friday these past few weeks I have planned to write a review of the most recent episode but for some reason never get around to it. I guess maybe the idea of watching the episode a second time for research purposes is too much to take, especially since I already know that I disagree with the comedians they ended up putting through. I just can't watch it again. But I tune in every week for every season because I keep thinking it will be different this time. What I want to know is why do I keep watching it when clearly it is a reality show and will therefore work on the laws of reality shows, and not by the laws of, say, good comedy. Why do I not understand that?

Of the 12 comedians that were selected to be in the show, only four of them I feel were funny enough to be on the show. That means that eight excellent comics were left behind in favor for other comics that perhaps would give the show more conflict and tension. So it's not so much who you can make laugh that gets you on this show, it is who you can aggravate and with whom you can create ratings-loving tension. Well, it doesn't say "Last Funny Comic Standing," now, does it?

The comedians that made it through the semi-finals last week and are now living together in NBC's "Casa De Comedy" and competing each week to stay in the show are:

Marcus: Normally he does impressions, which are very good, but in his semi-final show he did a clever, funny routine, and I was happy to see him go through. He shows a lot of versatility.
Louis Ramey: I thought he had the most well thought out, funny jokes with perfect timing. I am thoroughly rooting for this guy. He does my favorite type of jokes, the bait-and-switch, where he starts talking about a common situation, and then gives you a punchline you don't expect. For example, "Once you go black... you can't get credit."
Eliza Shlesinger: A strong act, I had her written down in my notes as the semi-final show went along as someone I hoped would advance. She has only three years experience, apparently, but she looks very polished.
Ron G: He started out ok, but the single joke in his set went on way too long. I need to see him do a variety of jokes to get an idea if he is funny. If he can't do that for a semi-final round, I can't be confidant he has any good material.
Adam Hunter: He had some funny material on rooting for the underdog, which is something I tend to do (although it doesn't seem that way re-reading some of my comments here, wowza!) but he seemed to be relying on his energy more than his writing.
Papa CJ: If you don't already know, he came into the competition in the quarter-final show with all the international comedians, and he hails from India. I really wanted to like this performer but he has a tendency to rely a little too much on what he thinks Americans think about Indians. His jokes settle around in the "I know you hate it when we take your job" area. And I am trying very hard to chalk his delivery style up to "accent and speech pattern differences" and not "arrogant and smug superiority."
Paul Foot: His act started out pretty good. I am a huge fan of quirky British comedians and he is all three of those, but he quickly faltered and lost steam after an awkward segue. Another comedian that was left behind was criticized by the judges for being "jumpy" in his delivery but Paul Foot was far twitchier and yet nothing was said to him and was sent through. Interesting.
Sean Cullin: Canadian comic who is on the silly side with his jokes. He sang a song about porn which was not bad, but again, I would have liked to have seen more jokes from him since he only had four minutes. When you commit to a song you have to stay with it, and if it isn't going well you can't bail on it for funnier material. I'm not sure how I feel about him. I do like his interviews, so there's that.
Jim Tavaré: Did I mention I like quirky British comedians? This guy has that in spades, as well as good material and great delivery. I like how he can seem both high-brow and silly at the same time. Plus I like putting in the little 'e' with the accent when I type so I definitely hope he sticks around.
God's Pottery: I can't tell you how much I do not understand this choice. First of all it is so painful watching them keep up that stupid act all day long. It's a one-trick dead and beaten pony. If they had to put through a team act I would have liked to see the twin guys or even the three-man act, even though I felt they were technically more of a sketch act.
Esther Ku: I know it can be risky criticizing someone good looking when you are clearly not, because it opens up the assumption that you are "just jealous". I am not jealous of Esther Ku's youth or looks. Let me just get that out of the way because I am so happy with all that I am inside that all I care about in regards to my body is that it be healthy. That being said, I really want Ku to stop being so freaking pretty. I'll bet if she wasn't so pretty she would have so much more material. There are things in the world that you can talk about that audiences relate too. Being pretty enough to date anyone you want? Not one of them. I heard this morning she has some ties to Boston so my loyalty chip wants me to root for her. I am willing to give her another chance in tonight's show.
Jeff Dye: Speaking of young and good looking, hubba hubba! Jeff Dye is this seasons Gary Gulman. He's the easy-on-the-eye comic for the lady viewers. Not surprisingly, I did not take notes on his act while he performed. Apparently I gave his act a "B". So hopefully he's funny.

Now, on to this week's show. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!

In the interest of brevity (too late! ba dump bump!) in this weeks review, I won't get into the challenges in a lot of detail other than to say that the calender bit: not funny. They mostly just tried to look goofy, and goofy doesn't always make it good. My favorite costume: Jeff Dye as the baby. He did look hilarious. The "Yo Mamma" smack down competition was a fantastic idea, but I can't imagine how they decided to put through God's Pottery to the last round when their whole bit was being complimentary all three rounds. I just want to shake them and make them adapt to the situation instead of keeping up this tired old shit. Jim Tavaré deservedly won that challenge against them, but funnier comics got left behind in earlier rounds, for some baffling reason.

The three way elimination show brought us performances by Esther Ku, God's Pottery and Eliza Shlesinger. If you've read this far you know who I want to see go home. Esther's set was the same as we had seen before, the whole "Oh Em Gee, I'm so Asian and pretty and I can make myself sound kind of stupid so you must laugh" act. God's Pottery may have done a song we have seen before, they all sound the same to me. Eliza gave a solid performance with a lot of movement and well written jokes, so it was no surprise to me that she won. Actually I take that back. It was a bit of a surprise because so often talent does not seem to factor into this show. Even some of the other comics watching and analyzing the show thought God's Pottery had won even though they all agreed Eliza had the strongest set. Speaking of that evaluation, I love the addition of the non-performing comics watching the showdown and commenting on the performances. They were so insightful and made excellent points about each set.

I guess the reason I still keep watching, to answer my opening question, is that I am fascinated by how these comics deal with the challenges with which they are presented, even if I don't necessarily think they are funny. There is a lot of last minute writing and quick thinking involved and for that I am impressed. Also, like a train wreck, I can't look away from the voting of the audiences. I just need to see who America (cough*producers*cough) thinks is the most funny (cough*marketable*cough) comedian.

Bonus footage: former Boston comedian and current humongous talent Dwayne Perkins showing up as #4 on the countdown of the 10 funniest jokes ever on LCS.

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