Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last Comic Standing: Fourth Elimination Episode

The show opens with a musical number that is both very funny and oddly contrived. The Dan Band sings a song that I believe is called "Last Comic Standing". It has some funny lines, but the best part about it are the two guys dancing in suits Britney-style behind the singer. They did a great job. What was just downright painful to watch was the comics coming out to introduce themselves and say why they will be the Last Comic Standing. It's just so... Miss America contesty. I don't know why they didn't just slap some feathered headdresses on the comics and make them do a dance number. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully they enjoyed it, they acted like they did, at any rate.

They keep saying that we will find out who was voted off from the previous week but it's not apparently obvious how they will do that. I would have thought they would tell us who didn't make it through, then the final 5 would perform, but they launched into Marcus and Ron G's sets without any indication of when we will find out the eliminated players. All I can do to get my question answered is to watch and wait. Before each comic performs they do a background interview/bio story that includes family members and photos from their childhoods. It was a really nice touch.

Marcus comes up first and does a fantastic job. He is safe because he won the immunity the week before. He talks about airport security, lead singers who are unintelligible and rap lyrics. This gives him an opportunity to do a wee bit of his impressions without it being an act by an impressionist. I'm sure I've said it before, but I love that he can tell funny jokes without always falling back on an impression just because he can, like many impressionists do.

Next up is Ron G. I think I finally figured out why I don't care for Ron's humor. It's a totally personal thing, and I'm sure many people think he's perfectly funny, but I think he has a mean streak. He relies entirely too much on making fun of other people. The subjects of tonights act are all people he thinks talk in an annoying manner; either too slowly, due to retainers or because of poor acting skills. I have a pet peeve about acts where putting other people down equaling comedy. Oh, and this is where we find out who has been eliminated. After they do their set, Bellamy then announces whether they make it through. Ron G. does not make the cut and he says goodbye. Thank you, Elimination Fairy!

Jim Tavaré takes the stage. I still really enjoy his act. He always has a tuxedo on, and that might make one think he's going to be over-the-top sophisticated, with a snooty aftertaste. But his jokes are innocently silly and off the beaten path, especially his tribute to Jimmy Hendrix and his example of the repertoire of the Double Bass. I am rooting for him in my top three, but I am resigned to the idea that he won't make it. He is up against some really intense rapid-fire comics, and I think the audience will vote them in before him. But for this week he is in and was not eliminated. So I am still happy.

Then it's Bill Bellamy! Wait, what? Kinda strange to sandwich him in at that particular juncture. Was it because it was the end of the first hour?

They also fill in time with a sneak peek at the new reality show NBC Will Not Rest Until We Kill Someone where contestants will do have to do all those jobs that we see on Ax Men, Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch. It may also end up being called America's Toughest Jobs, but that seems like an understatement.

After all the shameless plugging we get to another of my top three comics on this show, Louis Ramey. I learn from the intro that he's been doing comedy for 20 years, and it shows. His delivery is so patient. Tonight's set touches on the Amish a little, then settles on a story about talking to small town citizens about what America would do if ever there was an attempted invasion by terrorists. I don't want to (and don't think I can) write out his jokes verbatim here but lets just say that as an African-American trying to get Americans to vote for him, he has definitely pulled in the redneck and patriot demographic tonight. There may be a person or two out there in this nation that might want to make a note of how he did that. Oh, and of course he made it through to the finals.

Adam Hunter. Adam is another comic I have not enjoyed in this competition. He has some funny jokes and he is a good looking fella, but his jokes seem incomplete, like he went with the first punchline he could think of for every premise, instead of looking for something more funny. His mini-bio piece talks about his love of wrestling, and then his first joke was about the Olympics. Did he tell us funny personalized wrestling related jokes and stories of which one might imagine he has plenty? No. He went for a crack about flames in San Francisco. A second later he's onto a new premise. Not surprisingly, my Elimination Fairy pulls off another request for me and he gets the boot.

I joked about it in an earlier post, so I wanted to clarify that I am not a fan of Jeff Dye because he's cute. I really enjoyed the set he did last week and this week especially. He talks in his bio about how he announced to his folks he wanted to be a comedian, and they were completely supportive of him. He pointed out his parents in the audience as he started his set, and I almost got the impression that his set was in their honor as he poked fun at them in a very loving way. I thought that was nice. He also did a great bit on the board game "Guess Who". As they drag out the announcement about the good news that he has not been eliminated they give us a really long extreme close up of his face. And, um, wow, is he cute!

Ahem, anyway, the last two comics are Iliza Shlesinger and Sean Cullen and this time they have them both perform and then gather them together to announce the last comic moving on to the Final Five.

Sean Cullen has a really funny bio piece. I do like Sean, and I was happy to see he did an actual set this week instead of just a couple jokes and a song. He had a great premise based on James Bond movies. He did great bits on the villains, Sean Connery's acting, and the musicians that have not done Bond theme songs. It was definitely the funniest he's been on the show. I really wish this had been the set he chose to do last week.

Before she starts her set, is it me or are Iliza Shlesinger's boobs getting bigger every week? Did anyone do a re-count to make sure they got back all those rubber falsies from last week? Anyway, and in the interest of total fairness she is also very attractive, even though that is not the direction in which I roll. But I hate to be unfair and focus entirely on the male's physical attributes. Did I mention her boobs? She does yet another great set full of drinking and stories from old jobs. I love her energy and her originality, even though it does occur to me that she mostly insults people throughout the set not unlike the way I criticized Ron G. for doing. I don't know what she does differently; perhaps she makes it so colorful and specific that it seems less negative and more "I know someone like that!" relatable.

They do the expected dragging out of the results, but Iliza makes it three in a row and Sean goes home. Sorry, Sean, you can blame me for mentioning you to the Elimination Fairy. As for who I will be submitting to EF this week? It may not be necessary. It would appear that they are going right for the throat next week and axing four out of five comics and giving us the winner. It doesn't even appear that there will be any performances since they said over and over tonight that these were the final performances. I hope it's only an hour long episode because sweet Mother of God, that would be far too much filler comedy driving me crazy to get to 120 minutes of air time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hi There...

I realize I have been slow to post lately but my ankle has been feeling better and I have been taking advantage of that to enjoy some time with my Wii. I mean, uh, my family. I have plenty of posts planned and will be getting them up soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this humorously captioned photo.

more cat pictures

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last Comic Standing: Third Elimination Episode

Before I begin I owe a huge apology to Iliza Shlesinger. I have been spelling your name wrong for two weeks and I am so sorry about that. I am usually rather particular about getting names right, having grown up with "Cayley" being oh so butchered left and right. However, you may see me slip an Eliza in once and a while. Don't take it personally, a lot of people google Eliza Shlesinger and I don't want to lose that traffic. And now I think that probably took care of that search parameter for this week.

Tonights episode opens with the male comics plotting not to vote for Iliza because, as Louis Ramey so accurately points out, the more she gets exposed, the more the show is about her; if she wins another round, she will win the competition easily. The other guys don't seem to be going for it. I agree with Jeff Dye that it should be about who is the funniest and that the funniest comic should win. But if that was what the show was about, Jeff, Dat Phan never would have won Season One. He won the competitions because the audiences didn't realize he only had that one set that he kept doing over and over, and he won the national audience because everybody saw him crying in his bed/desk, and getting picked on by the other comics week in and week out. Exposure. People picked the name they remembered. At least that's the only reason that could possibly explain his win to me.

Japanese Restaurant Challenge: Normally they have some kind of cutesy name for the challenge but this little afterthought of airtime was apparently so slapped together they didn't bother to come up with one. Meanwhile: Comedy and Teppanyaki? Have I died and gone to heaven? And would that make it Comedyaki? They are performing to different tables of special guests that include Female Body Builders, some Deal or No Deal girls, some Sigma Pi fraternity brothers from an undisclosed college, and a "handful" of little people. I... I can't even tell you how it went. There were some rapid fire clips of jokes gone well, jokes fallen flat, the obligatory clip reel thing with funny voices and faces and gestures and poses... it was like the producers wanted us to know, "They did these great bits, but we ran out of time, so you know all the comedy gold that could have been panned out of this incredible collection of comedians and audience members? Yeah, we're not going to show it to you." By the way, this whole bit ran from minute three of the show to minute seven. They condensed the whole challenge to four minutes of airtime. Why bother doing it? Especially since the raison d'etre of this week's first hour is boobs. Why spare those precious knockerless four minutes (less if you count the Deal or No Deal girls) when they could have gone straight for the hooters?

They arrive back at the Casa de Comedy anticipating their clue for their next challenge. They have been left a number of fake breasts; the kind that women might put into a bra to make themselves look bigger, or to perhaps do fill in duty after a mastectomy. Admittedly, it was funny to watch them fondling, er, handling these things and trying to figure out what they meant. My favorite was Sean Cullin's guess that they were headed to a really erotic synagogue. (If you didn't see it, think yarlmuke.) Of course the breasts mean that they are heading to the Playboy mansion to tell bedtime stories to Hef's three girlfriends. I mean, it was so obvious, duh!

After they roll up the mansion, but before host Bill Bellamy brings them inside he drops a little more information on them. Whichever comic wins this challenge wins immunity and will automatically move on to the final performance show in Las Vegas. The eight comics choose a number, which in turn gives them each a title of a bedtime story that they need to make up for Hugh Hefner's girlfriends: Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson from E!'s The Girls Next Door. This was another strange and weak challenge, probably because it had that rushed sense to it yet again. I realize they can't show every single second of action, and I'm sure they had very little to work with considering the girls were a really tough crowd and the comics seemed ill prepared. They don't tell us how long they gave them to prepare, but I'm betting not much.

One quick note, I am going to combine my reviews of both the challenge and the performances to save some space and repetition. Anyway, after the story time, the Girls discussed the comics in a language of their own, made up of giggles, baby talk and their own special name for each of the comics, such as Tattoo, the Chick, Tall Vanilla Latte, and Dark Meat. I'll let your imagination work out who is who.

Bellamy gives them some more information about the next elimination. instead of everyone going back to the graveyard and voting for one of the group, because the non-immunity holding comics will all be performing for elimination of three of them, decided by America calling in their votes. That of course gets all kinds of mind-blown expressions from the comics, and for good reason. I on the other hand show nothing but disappointment. I really came to like the graveyard voting and the three way battles. It seems like such a waste to have only had it work that way for two weeks. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the winner was announced at the 47 minute mark of the first hour. The next time jokes are told are at 7 minutes past the next hour. So they spent 20 minutes giving us commercial breaks, recaps of what we just saw, the comic's "last supper", interviews about how this will be so important to them to win, and shots of them writing in notebooks and computers. All this time I am screaming at my television, ALRIGHT ALREADY, NBC, GET ON WITH IT! I'm thinking we could have done with a little less angsty, repetitive interviews and had more Comedyaki. Just a thought.

Anyway, here's what I thought of all the performances, including the story challenge:

Marcus - Challenge story: All Dogs Go to Heaven But Grampa Didn't. He worked his magic on the ladies with his excellent impressions. He entertained the Girls. He may not have had a plot or an ending, but he entertained them. I gave it a 7 out of 10. He won the challenge and received immunity, so he did not have to perform in this weeks elimination.

Ron G - Challenge story: Jack and the Bean Stalker. He was completely infatuated with the Girls, especially Kendra, who giggled at everything he said. Bridget laughed politely. Holly stared blankly, but I don't think that was any reflection on Ron. As he was leaving Kendra called him over and he sat on the bed, asking her if she liked dark meat. Hence, from that moment forward, he was known as Dark Meat, in case you hadn't figured that one out. I gave the story a 1.5. Performance: His whole act was about how much things suck. It sucks to be single, it sucks to have no friends, it sucks the way women treat men. It was just so negative. I gave it a 4.

Adam Hunter - Challenge story: I'm The Same Age As My New Mommy. He talked and talked and made no sense. I never thought I'd ever have anything in common with the Girls Next Door, but he confused all four of us. He was pretty sure they liked him. I gave it a 0.5. Performance: It was a weak set, and the jokes were a little dated. He did a George Bush joke that criticized his Aids policy. Isn't there a war going on that he's getting a bit of flack about lately? I just don't find Adam very polished or very original. I gave it a 3.

Iliza Shlesinger - Challenge story: The Pirate, The T-Rex and the Grandma. She walked in, showing confidence and an awful lot of knowledge about the Girls' show. She told an actual story and used words they understood: their names. I thought she did the best job. I gave her a 9. Performance: This is her 3rd elimination show set in three weeks. She has told the other comics she is using all new material, stuff she has never tried on stage before. If this is true, it's risky. She does sound a a lot less confident delivering this set than in other weeks, but I'm still not sure what to believe. I give her a 7.5.

Sean Cullin - Challenge story: Dragon's Just Don't Understand. Way, way to much gay sex in this story. The way it was edited I think he went on way, way too long. It got a 2 from me. Performance: He started off with high energy and some silly (in a good way) jokes. Then he did a song about farmers that wasn't really all that funny. I found out this past week that Sean used to be a part of the comedy musical group called Corky and the Juice Pigs. So now I understand why he does almost all songs in his act. He got a 5 from me.

Jim Tavaré - Challenge story: Pretty People Always Get Their Way. So right there he's going in with the deck stacked against him. You can't make fun of pretty, spoiled people to women who make their living being beautiful and pampered! They turned on him of course. He may also have been too cerebral for them, and I'm pretty sure they thought he was the guy from The Hills Have Eyes. I gave him a 6. Performance: He had his usual relaxed way about him, with clever jokes, some of which were accompanied with sound effects on his double bass. I give him an 8.

Jeff Dye - Challenge story: Daddy Loves Mommy, Mommy Loves Lattes. He didn't make a lot of sense, trying to make all the characters coffee drinks, but he also used their names and they thought he was cute so they liked him. I gave him a 5. Performance: Started off pretty good, but the second part of the act about the homeless guy/spotting homeless people was exceptionally strong. I give him an 8.5.

Louis Ramey - Challenge story: The Princess Who Needed To Pee. He did a cute job with it and it ended it an actual punchline, and a funny one at that. I gave it an 8. Performance: This was a fantastic set. He is so comfortable to watch. He doesn't seem rushed at all, and his delivery is so well paced. In addition to all that, he has the best jokes on the show, hands down. He has a great twist to his observations. He gets a full 10 from me.

I'll be interested to see how the voting goes. So far my least favorite acts have all gone by some miraculous luck on my part. So if the Elimination Fairy is reading and wants to know who I deem should be booted, start with Ron G and Adam Hunter. Unfortunately a third one has to go as well, so I reluctantly vote for Sean Cullen. I love him in the house, in interviews, and in the challenges, but his songs? Not so much.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Daily Crutch

I am getting very excited because my incision is almost all healed up. Every day I see it changing for the better. Unfortunately due to my doctor being on "summer hours" I can't see him again until the end of the month and therefore won't be able to start physical therapy until August. I feel like I'm ready to start walking, and occasionally find excuses to go to the kitchen and just "forget" to put the aircast on. It feels good in the ankle area for the most part, as long as I don't overdo it, like make more than 4 or 5 trips throughout the day. More than that and it feels like I'm tugging on the incision. One new thing I have found is that every once in a while I take a step that feels odd in my heel area, almost wobbly, but not painful. I finally remembered that the doc told me that while he was in there he took out a heel spur. I had no idea how much of a difference that would make.

My son had some fun this past week playing with my aircast. I pumped it up so it would stay on his little leg and figured he would be tired of it pretty quick, but despite a fall after every other step, literally, he still wanted to keep it on. I also had my husband take a picture of my calves to show me, and now the whole blessed world, exactly how much muscle tone I have left in that leg. In related news, I weighed myself today and I've lost 2 lbs. Gee, I wonder where if will be most noticeable?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Last Comic Standing: Second Eliminations

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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feel Good Post of the Week

I don't mean to brag or anything but I have an average of three visitors a day to this blog, and I've decided it's time to wield this awesome and amazing influence in the name of goodness.

I have a very good friend who is walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer here in Boston next month. She is one of that fantastic breed of persons that act positively and pro-actively in the face of grief and sadness. She ran a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society after the loss of someone very close to her. This wasn't easy for her, as she suffers from some really debilitating migraines quite often. I am very proud of her. Now she has set her sights on breast cancer. Both of us have lost dear friends and family to this disease, so I am especially rooting for her in this grueling endeavor. She will walk 20 miles a day for three days straight, camping out along the way.

Her name is Donna Foley and she has a page that tells more about the walk, her story and how to donate here. The walk is next month so if you can help out, please act fast!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So That's What The Name Means

Saturday we went to our friend's annual block party. I am pleased to announce that there were NO Kia's parked this year. We are so proud. This year my son discovered a tree across the street from where we were sitting had edible sour cherries. He decided he wanted to make a cherry pie.

The hunt for ingredients:

The bounty gathered:

He actually tastes the cherries:

I apologize for the awkward watermarks. I'm sure there is a more professional and/or subtle looking way to do it but I am still new to all of this.

The Daily Crutch

On Wednesday I had my second plaster cast removed. The infection from the last time is gone but the incision is still not quite healed. So, yet again, we wait to start physical therapy. The doc says not to worry because the important thing is that I keep the tendon flexible, or else the lengthening will have been for naught, and I can do those exercises on my own. The PT is for getting strength back, and we can catch up in that way at any time. So for now my orders are more elevating, less walking and more Aircast. But the good news is that he cleared me for driving. Hooray, I thought! Yeah, as it turns out, not so much.

Bright and early on Thursday morning I said to Cameron, "Where do you want to go today? We are footloose and fancy free and mobile again." We decided we would start off heading to the vet because my cat had run out of her pills and had gone quite a few days without them. Then, since we were out in that area we would stop by a favorite farm-stand type store, and then finish the day off by stopping at our neighborhood spray park. Driving was going to require that I take off the Aircast. I brought along a clog to slip on because it wouldn't rub against my incision and that worked out well. The problem, it turns out, was that aforementioned "strength." Pulling out of the driveway wasn't too bad, it certainly felt different, and I admit to being a tad nervous. But I made my way down the street and up the ramp and onto the highway. This is when I discovered that pressing down on the accelerator with an atrophied leg can be a bit problematic. I couldn't get the car up over 45 mph. Other cars are whizzing by me, blowing horns, giving me That Look as they passed. That was scary, but I shifted my position on my seat and skooched a little closer and was able to get up to about 55 so I wasn't a total danger to myself and others. I merged onto the Mass Pike, which is a toll road, but I have the Fast Lane pass so I get over all the way to the right, not only to let faster cars get by but to get into the dedicated lane for the pass.

Now, to back up a little you should know that I was driving my '97 Ford Escort. This was the car that we unregistered and put in our garage when my son was born to save a little money. A few months ago we re-registered it and have been driving it instead of our other car because the Escort is only 4 cylinders and thus uses a little less gas. Plus, to my son it is "new" and he thinks it's a real treat to take the "green car." For some reason the Escort has lost it's little velcro tabs that hold the Fast Lane transponder on the windshield, so when we drive through a toll we need to dig out the transponder and hold it up behind the rear-view mirror in order for the whole transaction to go through. Oh, and driving through the Fast Lane without having a transponder results in a pretty hefty fine.

Can you guess what happened next? I'll bet you can! First I forgot I was supposed to hold the transponder up until I was just about under the point where it gets read, then I almost got rear-ended when I slammed on the brakes and started fumbling for it. Somehow I realized I was already past the point of no return and had to keep moving before I caused an accident, but the thoughts started flying through my head about how I had just ran the toll, and that our account doesn't even have the new license plate number listed. I was already pretty stressed out about the odd feelings in my right foot and after this happened I pretty much lost it. I started crying. Meanwhile my son, the chatterbox, is in the back.
"Mommy, when are we gonna get there where is the vet why does 'Pencer need pills does Jake need pills too when are we gonna get there." Then he noticed I was crying. "Mommy why are you crying why are we gonna get a ticket is the p'liceman gonna pull us over where is the p'lice car why will it come in the mail where is the p'liceman how does he know where we live." I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't focus on the road between my overwrought thoughts of breaking this news to my husband and Cam's voice.
"Cameron, PLEASE stop it, I need to CONCENTRATE. You need to be QUIET!"
Then, from the back I hear the tiniest voice say, "Maybe we should just turn around."

That was so perfect that I actually laughed out loud. He sounded like he had grown 30 years in those moments. He also sounded concerned for his crazy old mother. I felt terrible and apologized to my boy, and we continued on to the vet because we really did need those pills, but we scratched the other plans, and went straight home, turned on the a/c and treated ourselves to massive amounts of ice cream and Tom and Jerry cartoons. And when I told my husband he actually laughed at me. Any other time I'd be mad at being the butt of the joke but this time it was completely welcome.

All in all, the driving was not a good idea. I won't be doing that again for a while. I am going to keep up my home exercises for another week and then try again in on the 21st, when I need to take the cat back to the vet. I believe I will take the back roads this time. You know, just in case.

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.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wii Will, Wii Will Hurt You!!

I am now a proud and pleased owner of a Wii!

I had been hinting to my husband for quite some time that I really wanted one, but I knew they could be expensive and we already had a PlayStation 2, so I never thought for a moment about outright asking for one. And it is possible that had one not practically fallen into his lap, he never would have considered getting me one either. But by some crazy stroke of luck, a friend of my husband's was looking to sell his barely-used Wii console with three games and three controllers. When he first heard about this he came home that evening with a sneaky smile on his face, teasing me that he had the best birthday gift for me. I didn't believe him.

My husband has a long tradition of bait-and-switch subterfuge. He will often make me think my birthday or Christmas gift is being held up in some kind of customs dispute and/or will require a home loan to afford. And of course, it is always perfectly nice but never have I needed a crane to get one of them into the house no matter how much he swore it would be necessary. My standard response is to just roll my eyes and act like whatever it is I'm sure it will be all wrong. A few days after he started bragging about this awesome gift I was getting, he mentioned it was going to be more expensive than he would have liked. Now, for the record, just this past Mother's Day he claimed the beautiful digital frame he got for me cost $280. I was stunned! I couldn't believe he so stupidly paid that much since I had seen the same frame for under $100. My gullibility struck again, and he let me believe that story for weeks before he admitted he got it for about 90 bucks, but this is what I mean about him trying to trick me. I figured this new claim that my birthday gift was too pricey was more of his typical BS and figured I would call his bluff. I told him his love was enough of a gift (cue sappy music) and he didn't have to go through oh so much trouble to get it for me. And if it was really something he thought I would want he could give it to me at a later date. So he canceled it and then told me all about his friend's situation and what a great deal it would have been, and that as soon as I said I didn't want it the man's sister-in-law was told she could have it to donate it to a nursing home. This time I believed him, and it turned out he was, in fact, telling the truth.

I spent about 2 days moping about what a big mistake I made turning down his gift. On the 4th of July, no doubt to get away from all of my whining, he went around to the neighborhood pub and ran into his friend. Turns out the sister-in-law had gotten a system of her own, thinking I had taken the original one, and it was still up for grabs. My husband wisely snatched it up and they brought it home for me for an early birthday gift, set it up on Saturday morning, and I played for most of that afternoon. Today I have very sore arms. Even two days later. I tried to play a little yesterday but literally could not lift my arms. I feel it in my biceps, my forearms and my shoulders. I can barely use my crutches. The forearm pain is still the worst today. I feel broken. And I love it!! I really feel this will be a good addition to my up and coming plans to lose weight, which will commence after I am done with my physical therapy. Hopefully if I save my pennies I can get the Wii Fit attachment before the weather turns cold.

Now all I need is an attachment to teach me how to tell when my husband is bullshitting me. I wonder how much that will cost?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Daily Crutch

Yesterday was my 5 week visit with my doctor. It was supposed to be the day I got out of the air cast and began physical therapy. Well, unfortunately that's not what happened. Last Thursday was the last day for the wonderful woman who was taking care of me. Friday was the day my husband brought my 4 year old son to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to see the NASCAR practice. Saturday my husband ran around doing errands and Sunday he spent all day at the track. Also on Sunday two friends were coming over to hang out and watch the race with me, and on Monday my father was coming up to see me for a few days.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, because of my visitors, and because I was on my own for so many days I started cleaning and cooking as if there was nothing wrong with me. And of course, the crutches just got in the way so I didn't use them. Because of all that activity, I opened up the incision. It is also infected. Even though this is five weeks post surgery I really am not surprised. When I went in after 10 days to get the stitches out they weren't ready to be removed and we had to wait an additional week. The problem is that I had the exact same surgery when I was 2 years old, and the doctor cut right alongside the old scar. So I have healthy tissue attempting to heal together with old scar tissue. So I think these kinds of complications should be expected. Obviously I exacerbated the problem, because I didn't have to make lunch on Sunday, or clean the living room; my friends would have understood. And if I had been more patient I'm sure my son could have done the majority of cleaning in his room.

The doctor decided I needed antibiotics, of course, and we both decided I needed a new plaster cast. If I had stayed in the aircast I'm sure I would have made it worse. I'm a fiddler. I can't leave things alone. If I am to heal, apparently, I need to keep myself away from myself. Now I have the equivalent to one of those cones they put on a dogs head to keep them from chewing their stitches. So now I promise I will be a good girl. Yes I will!

On a semi-related note, while looking for images for this post, I put the word "crutches" into the Photobucket search window. I learned that there really is a spelling gap in the nation's education system because what I got in the results were a lot of "crotches."