Reality Bites: Last Comic Standing
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: July 30, 2003
The Final Five battle it out in the penultimate episode of Last Comic Standing. Which one will be declared the Last Comic Standing?!
Last week we saw the final head-to-head elimination competition, where Dat Phan took the group down to the Final Five by eliminating Geoff Brown (who? trust me, he's been on the show, even if you didn't remember seeing him before that night). So the following comics were left in the house to proceed to the final competition in Las Vegas:
1. Cory Kahaney: A comedian from Manhattan, New Yawk.
2. Dat Phan: A Vietnamese comedian from Santee, CA.
3. Ralphie May: A very large comedian from Houston, TX.
4. Rich Vos: A somewhat caustic comedian from Plainfield, NJ.
5. Tess Drake: A plus-sized diva from Sandusky, OH. (Okay, Tess has apparently dropped the "Drake", but I like to let it dog her like an albatross (bird-dog, as it were).)
Viva Las Vegas!
This week, we're out of the house and into the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the opening credits, the five are dolled up to the max, and are looking really good. Ralphie has lost the glasses and the baseball cap and is lookin' sharp! Tess and Cory are glammed up. Dat is hip with hair spiked higher than Ryan Seacrest's. And as for Rich ... well, who needs glamour when you're The Don?
I was very excited about tonight's episode. Although I'd miss the house interactions, this would be our first chance to see a full five minutes of each comic performing, without editing or cuts. While we've gotten some sense of the comics from the previous episodes, we've seen relatively little of them as performers.
The crowd was excited as well. They immediately jumped to their feet when host Jay Mohr came out to give him a standing O (as, in fact, they did for every comic that performed as well). Jay seemed appreciative, but a little taken aback ("Come on, your legs are going to get tired."). He explained the rules: each comic would have five minutes to perform, and after five minutes the mike would be cut off ("Life's tough; wear a cup."). The phone lines would be open for one hour after broadcast of the show, and voting on the internet would be allowed up until midnight on Wednesday Eastern time (9 p.m. Pacific time, those of you in the middle are used to doing the math) via http://www.votenbc.com. Only three votes per phone number and/or three votes per computer would be allowed. The comic with the most votes will receive an exclusive talent contract with NBC and a special on Comedy Central.
Jay then did a short coupla minutes about the Paris Hotel and Las Vegas. Not bad. I hadn't seen Jay perform as a stand-up comic before. (He was actually most familiar to me from a small but delicious role he had on one of my favorite guilty pleasures, the now-cancelled Fastlane.)
And then it was on to the comics! Each comic started with a short video interview segment, and then they did their set.
Interview: Ralphie was excited about getting out on stage. For him, comedy was all about one man or one woman and one mike (oh, yeah, and the audience). "If I win, I win. If I don't, I don't. I still made them laugh."
Performance: Ralphie received a tremendous roar of applause from the crowd, as well as the standing O. He laughed, and said, "Holy smokes! Wow! A standing ovation for the fat guy walking! Thanks!"
After a few perfunctory comments about the weather, Ralphie went for the theme of his performance. He was an angry guy who was sick of whiners -- for example, rich people who felt guilty about being rich and protested the War for Oil. He disliked the hypocritical aspects of the protesters, and besides -- he wanted cheap gas! "We didn't get anything out of Somalia except for one good movie. I want cheap gas!"
My comments: I wasn't crazy about some of the political humor, particularly lines such as, "The way I look at it, it's one country down, fifteen more to go. Line them up!" On the other hand, this struck me as a well-crafted set, with great delivery. The pacing, the emotion, and the balance all worked very well. And there were parts that I laughed at. I just wish that the technical expertise had been applied to a subject I enjoyed hearing about and laughing about more. But the audience sure liked him. They chanted his name, and interrupted his set with a standing ovation in the middle.
Interview: Dat was known for his Eastern Philosophy on the show ("You cannot win if you lose the lesson."). Dat outdid himself this time: "I think sometimes to pursue your dreams, that is a little nuts. That is a little crazy. You have to be a little crazy to really sacrifice everything to get what you want. And if you consider that crazy -- yeah, I believe that if you think that me giving everything I've got pursuing my dreams is crazy, call me crazy." In other words -- it is, and if you think it is, then it is. I'm dizzy!
Performance: Oh, Dat, Dat. Dat came on very heavy with the "Mom" voice, including his mom wanting him to date small, compact Asian girls. As he said that, I thought, "Time for a car joke." And sure enough, he followed it up with, "What's she trying to do, sell me a car?" (I thought it would be more like, "So I told her, 'Mom, I'm trying to get a date, not a car!'")
The worst was when he mocked his mom for being afraid of land mines, and being uptight after having gone through two wars. Really, really not funny.
The only thing that I thought could have worked was when he talked about people blaming him for what happened in the Vietnam war, and he made a mention about being "Time-Traveling VC". That could maybe have worked to something, but instead he went to a bit about pretending to fight in utero, which didn't really make much sense.
My comments: This was very bad. Dat looked good, with his hair and his royal blue shirt. But the content was really lacking, and the set didn't hang together very well. I felt like I could see him flipping to the next index card in his mind.
Interview: Tess was incredulous and satisfied to be in the final five. "I mean, I've already won. Now it's just time to have fun. And just land another blow, another punch ... for laughter."
Performance: Tess played a lot on the "big girl" thing. She talked about being a plus-sized stripper, and also had a bit about being a plus-sized model and not knowing how to put the thong on correctly, so showed it off the wrong way around ("How was I to know that the little skinny strip go in the back?"). And she did a little bit about dating, and who she wouldn't date.
She seemed very, very nervous coming out, and I think the sight of the large audience threw her. But she relaxed into her set once she got going, although she was still occasionally giggly.
My comments: It was a strange set for Tess. Her audition piece, and practically everything we saw of her in the house, was all about being fabulous. Large, but fabulous. This set was much more making fun of being large. Large strippers get quarters, not dollars. Large strippers started lapdancing, because it was less work and besides, they need to sit down. While I'll be one of the first to say that her "I'm fabulous" routine was not original in its humor, I didn't find this tactic funny either, and it lacked the warmth and good humor with which Tess discussed her fabulousness that made me want to laugh with her.
Interview: Rich was cheerfully pessimistic in outlook during the interview. "Tonight, when I step on stage, I'm going to be a wreck. ... I'm most likely going to stink. And, you know, there you have it. Get through this, and get back home to the spot-welding."
Performance: Rich first gave a nod to the Las Vegas locale, wondering about nickel slots. Then he riffed for a bit on airport security, and what's not allowed on airplanes (toenail clippers, boomerangs).
He talked quite a bit about his dating life, or lack thereof. "My nickname should be 'Swing and a Miss.'" Even his dating success with a 23-year-old was a success only because he could steal some of her clothes for his daughter when she was sleeping. Said daughter was also the subject of some more jokes about how she can push his buttons.
My comments: Was Dave right? Did Rich become rusty during the time in the house? This was an adequate set, but not inspired. The ending (a joke about asking his ten-year-old daughter for a thank you after taking her out to eat in a restaurant, and her response of "For feeding us?") fell flat, and I didn't think either the dating themes or the father themes were well developed. Rich also accosted an audience member for being too pale during the set, breaking the rhythm of the airport security bit, which to me was the strongest one he had.
Interview: Cory admitted to "finally" being nervous. She said she wasn't nervous before, although she seemed very nervous to me on Carson Daly's show. While comedy clubs might put up the best five comics in one night, she said, to have the prize of the contract, etc. hanging over her head was affecting her.
Performance: Cory started with a couple of examples of her big mouth -- hearing arguments and weighing in with the answer. One was about the point value of grapes in a Weight Watchers meeting ("Ladies, I really don't think grapes is what got you in here in the first place."); the other having to do with two guys debating whether or not it was easier for a woman to have orgasm on top ("Guys, actually, it's so much easier when we're alone."). I think my biggest laugh of the night was from a shot at a guy's open-mouthed, shocked reaction to the orgasm joke as what I assumed to be his girlfriend lifted both arms straight up in appreciation of the joke.
Cory also talked about low-rise pants ("Who are these pants designed for? Vietnamese boys?" with a little eye gesture off-screen, I'm guessin' to Dat), panties, and meeting her husband in a bar (not generally a good idea, she said, because it's like going shopping when you're hungry and you come home with stuff you don't need). And of course, being a mom, she had to include some jokes about her teen-age daughter.
My comments: I thought Cory did a good job. She avoided the "Sagitarry rape" joke, which is always a plus. Her delivery was nice, particularly her final advice about not telling kids how bad your ex is because "then you ruin the moment when they figure it all by themselves." The middle material was pedestrian, but she worked well with the audience.
Final Comments on the Episode:
Eesh! Well, as excited as I was coming into this episode, I was a little disappointed by the end of it. No one really knocked my socks off with their performance. Ralphie I thought was the most technically proficient. Cory's set was the most enjoyable. But factoring in the time in the house, Rich was funnier than his performance tonight would indicate and Tess is more charismatic. The only one that I would be very disappointed to have win would be Dat, so the odds are good that I won't be disappointed. But I'm not sure that any of them will make me happy by winning, either.
But that doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to next week's finale! This will be a two-hour episode, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. The first hour will have a question and answer session with all of the original ten houseguests and will recap highlights of the previous episodes. In the second hour, the five finalists will be cut to two, and those two will each perform another five minute set. And then, of course, we will learn who the winner is!
The two-hour finale of Last Comic Standing will be on Tuesday, August 5, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
On the Internet: NBC.com's Official Site | SirLinksalot.net