Just before the show begins it occurs to me that I like the 2 hour long episodes this year. It means we get to see a lot more of the challenges as well as the whole of the final performances, and not the odd choppy editing that made everything seem so incomplete in past seasons.
We open on the comics at home, welcoming back Eliza and interviewing about her win. They give her a round of applause, including Papa CJ. Marcus gives her props in his interview. He says, "She rocked it. She came out strong. She deserved to win that night". Paul Foot says her humor is brilliant, but she is now vulnerable because she may not have more strong material for future competitions. CJ says shes not a strong comedian. Then he says, "Welcome to the big leagues, sweetheart." Wait, I thought he kept saying theres no comedy in India... so how would he know what the big leagues are? Could it be he doesn't actually perform solely in India? Could he possibly live and work in a different country with a rich tradition of comedy?
Comic Car Wash. The first challenge. They have to earn so much money washing cars and then they will get a clue for the second challenge. Why is Jim Tavaré on crutches? I wish they would explain that. If anyone finds out, please tell me. I worry. Sean Cullin says about this challenge, "It reminded me of the old days when performers had to clean things before they were allowed to perform." Marcus puts on a bikini top. It's a tad disturbing but the pattern nicely blends in with his tattoos. For a second there I didn't even realize he had it on. They all tell some cute jokes to the patrons and receive tips. They look like they are having fun and have great attitudes about it. By the end they have had a huge water fight, and all took turns doing Paris Hilton Arby™ commercial impressions. They return back to the house, change clothes and come down to find a gazillion carrots strewn about the floor. They are baffled as to their meaning. If they had just watched the previews they would know that they are meeting up with Carrot Top for the challenge called...
Mad Props. They have 20 minutes to grab pretty much anything they can use for prop comedy in a massive Bed, Bath and Beyond. I need to be in awe of them now because this would have had me apoplectic at the thought. When I first saw Carrot Top in the previews, I thought he had on a wig. In fact, watching the previews I caught a glimpse of him and thought it was someone dressed up as Carrot Top. I actually love Carrot Top, and despite all his critics, I think he's talented. I do try to look bored at his act and seem "cool" and above it, but he gets me laughing every time. But, um, does he wear guyliner? All the comics admit to having no experience with props, of course. Everybody runs around grabbing things and shoving them into overflowing carts. They get an additional hour to come up with some jokes, and to fashion things with scissors and stuff. Meanwhile, an audience and a stage is set up in the store. Carrot Top, of course, will judge them.
Without going into too much detail because it's really a visual thing — and to try to describe it will only make this article even more excruciatingly long — here are my opinions on the best and worse of the Mad Props Challenge:
Louis Ramey - Best: A colander hat with a light bulb on top invoking a Death Row joke. Worst: A shower curtain to pose in front of for fake vacation photos. He did a great job.
Marcus - Best: Lifetime's version of Iron Man. Worst: Angelina Jolie's lipstick. He did a good job.
Ron G - Best: Little Richard toilet paper roll. Worst: Black hug with a brown pillow? I didn't get it. He was not all that great. And he pointed out numerous times that he does not do prop comedy.
Papa CJ - Best: Nothing. Worst: All of it. He didn't do prop comedy, he held up objects as props. There's a difference. More specifically, he held up toothpaste and criticized airport security. Get it? Me neither. Carrot Top's response to that was a big raspberry. Cullin commented that CJ did no prop comedy, he just offended people, and not in a good way. I love that line.
Sean Cullin - Best: Midget pirate costume. Worst: 12 breasted alien bra. He was nonstop, and was really funny.
Adam Hunter - Best: O.J. Simpson starter kit. Worst: Paris Hilton as a duster. He was hit or miss.
Jim Tavaré - Best: Stepladder. Worst: Icebreaker, but I still liked it. They showed almost nothing of the set, so it was hard to tell if it was any good. Carrot Top said he was clever but not laugh-out-loud funny.
Eliza Shlesinger - Best: Mouse saddle, and it was good crafting, too. Worst: Gay nipple clamps, but still good crafting. She actually made a boob on which to hang the clips. She told longer jokes, almost giving each item a story. She was pretty good.
Paul Foot - Apologizes right away, and he explained too much. No best or worst, all just confusing and twitchy. He kept talking even after Bellamy outro'd him. He seemed devastated.
Jeff Dye - He had a theme. He reenacted favorite movies. It was a nice twist. I especially liked Land Before Time, ET, and Forrest Gump. For such originality, he wins immunity. Many of the other comics complain about that.
They show Paul Foot getting harassed by some of the other comics. Dudes. Not cool. Am I gonna have to start rooting for him? They all head out to the cemetery for the elimination vote.
I see something AWESOME! The booted acts get headstones in the cemetery. I wonder of they get to keep them? I also wonder where they that kind of fog in LA? And now I finally get it. They are in a cemetery because on stage they can either kill or die. Clever.
After the vote, Paul Foot and Papa CJ are tied, and they go together to decide on an opponent. They vote together to take Eliza. Idiots. They just watched her soundly trounce two other comics. CJ interviews that Eliza is a lovely girl but thinks she lacks comedic capabilities. Maybe he thinks her previous opponents were so bad that she didn't have to be all that good to beat them? I don't know. He was in the same room with the other comics when they assessed her set and they all had high praise for her. You'd think these very experienced male comics finding her set strong would be a good indicator. Ok, I did it. I played the gender card. I know there are people who don't think women are funny. I have no proof that these two feel that way towards women, I just have a gut feeling. Maybe being from England (and my theory that CJ does most of his shows outside of India is bolstered by one of the comics calling Foot, Tavaré and CJ the British comedians, not the Brits and the Indian) makes them think less of female comics. It's just a theory, but I think Eliza was onto something when she said she was vulnerable because she has a vagina. Foot interviews that all the Indian jokes CJ tells play the race card and that Eliza has the home turf advantage. At least he is acknowledging his opponents strengths instead of being automatically dismissive like CJ. I guess my thoughts on him being arrogant were more on the money than I would like. Louis thinks hes polished but I don't agree. I find his delivery odd, patronizing and obviously exaggerated. I feel bad for Foot. I think he is outside his comfort zone. He continues to interview that he believes Eliza doesn't have much material left seeing as how she has only been in comedy a short time (3 years.) But there are male comics in the same house that have less experience. If thats your logic, why not vote for them?
Marcus interviews about the ways in which he thinks Paul Foot is a good comic. He is getting my vote for most supportive comic in the Casa de Comedy. He sees the good in everybody. Except CJ. So I love Marcus now.
I've always felt that the majority of comics are in "the biz" because they somehow didn't fit in. Picked on, shy, or maybe they were the class clown, but somehow they were not like the normal kids and humor was a coping mechanism. In my very humble opinion, and this is a blatant and gross generalization, the tendency is that the cerebral, obscure-reference comics were the ones who were bullied for being weird The high energy, goofy ones were class clowns who liked attention, and the ones in between were the quiet kids who hid in the back and observed. Paul Foot seems like the really, really smart kid who got bullied and became, for lack of a better word, eccentric, even more so than most British comedians, which is way over the top. So honestly, I like him, and I even enjoyed his set, but he's not the type of comic that we are used to here in the States. After a stammer-filled start with a great premise — harassing annoying morning people in the middle of the night — he continued with bad set ups to good premises, and then went uncomfortably too far with it, abruptly changing direction from homosexual sex to why we hang out in the living room. His stammering makes him sound rattled and unprepared. The comics watching point out that he got weird at the end and lost everyone. That pretty much sums up that set perfectly. I've finally realized what bugs me about his hairstyle. I guess it's a British mullet, cut in an almost childlike way in the front and kind of girly in the back. Just when you think a mullet couldn't get any worse, this one comes along. I think what distracts me the most is that mullets shouldn't cover your ears.
Eliza's plan is to stress the point that she is an American, and the first words out of her mouth are, "Whats up LA, it's great to be home!" Which sets that up perfectly. She is, again, high energy with large physical gestures that play well in large theaters not unlike the one in which she is currently. She hits all-American subjects like school coaches, and a game called The Oregon Trail, which I have never heard of in my entire life. But the crowd seems to know it and they apparently love her references. She further hits on drinking, laughing at your significant other during an intimate moment and water parks. The comic gallery thinks its another winning set.
And so now it's time for Papa CJ. I am all ready for him to go down in flames. And then he opens with a really funny joke. I'll admit it, he might have a chance. He touches next on airport security, how he gets "randomly selected" for a search every time he flies because of the color of his skin. It's also a good joke. He gets a little blue with some ass-probe jokes, and then turns on some poor guy in the audience claiming he is the prober. The gentleman doesn't look too thrilled but he is willing to play along. But now, two jokes in he's doing "India is taking your computer programming/7-11 jobs" schtick, and then makes a joke involving curry that I really don't understand, despite backing up my Tivo several times. I also notice that many sentences he repeats twice, not because the audience is clapping or making noise so loudly he needs to reiterate, but more of a way of making sure we understand that he will be telling the joke soon, so be sure and pay attention. He makes a Weapons of Mass Destruction joke and the crowd clams up. Between this and the anti-Bush jokes he told in the Mad Props challenge I am reminded of how things like this work in my microcosm of Boston. Perhaps it works the same elsewhere, but here we all have a crazy relative. At every family get-together half the time is spent complaining about, making fun of, and generally saying nothing but horrible things about him or her. But if one non-relative were to walk up and say, "Oh that guy? I know him, he's a real asshole," the family would all take umbrage with this fellow. And by "umbrage" I mean "possibly beat the crap out of him for insulting one of our own". Only we get to talk about our family that way, and only Americans get to make jokes about America like that. No, it's not fair but an American comic in Britain making fun of, say, the Queen's looks wouldn't go over well either, I'll wager. After the round of stares Papa CJ gets for the weapons joke, he switches (maybe intentionally, maybe because they balked on him) to jokes he told in the semifinals, about the possibility he could die and be reborn as an audience member's baby, nursing on his wife's breast. And he is saying this to the same poor guy he roped in earlier with the butt probe stuff. Leave the guy alone! Spread the abuse, don't ruin this guys night! He looks like he's pretty sick of being singled out and I can totally understand why. Especially after CJ "advises" the man to perform oral sex on his wife, but not quite as politely as I wrote it. After he finishes, Sean Cullin and Marcus both say what I'm thinking: it's the same set he did in Vegas. Wasn't CJ himself criticizing Eliza for probably not having enough material for another performance? Hey, CJ: I haven't heard her tell the same joke twice, bub, and all I hear is the same tired crap from you. He annoys me to no end.
Paul Foot gets told right away he's out and I feel sorry for him for pretty much everything that happened to him this whole show. One good bit of news for him, however, is that most of the comics thought he was going to win this round. They point out that when the audience is behind him, he is very charming and I agree. I wish him the best and hope he does well.
Bill Bellamy drags out the reveal of the winner, but not surprising to me, Eliza wins with 62% of the vote. And then she almost throws up. She actually gags. Awesome. Nevertheless, I am thrilled because finally I'm seeing an LCS where the not funny comics go and the funny comics stay. Well, the funniest of the ones they chose. I still would have preferred seeing Jackie Kashian over about half of the ones who are still in. But still, I can't wait until next week. According to the previews, however, there is some sort of change. I can't tell if the "last showdown in LA" means another three comics going head to head, or if they will make all eight perform and some will move on to Las Vegas. I hate to see something as fun as the graveyard voting go away after just three weeks. I do know this, though: next week there will be Playboy bunnies on trampolines, so guys, be sure and tune in.