Reality Bites: Last Comic Standing 2 - House Episode 2
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: June 30, 2004
Last week, we got our first look at the Comic House for this season -- and discovered it was a harsher, bitterer house than ever we saw last season. And, of course, we had our first evictee, Bonnie McFarland.
Still remaining in the house are:
1. Alonzo Bodden: A suave black comedian from New York -- think comedic Avery Brooks.
2. ANT: A gay comedian. Well, half right. And it's not the second half. I can't lie.
3. Todd Glass: Is it possible to be a grown-up enfant terrible? That'd be Todd, from Philly.
4. Gary Gulman: A tall, gorgeous, and Jewish comedian from Boston.
5. John Heffron: Gen X comic, just starting to grow up, from Detroit.
6. Corey Holcomb: A horndog black comedian from Chicago.
7. Jay London: Self-proclaimed "fourth guy from the left on the evolutionary chart" and schtick comic, from Los Angeles.
8. Kathleen Madigan: Wry comic from St. Louis.
9. Tammy Pescatelli: Sicilian comedian from Cleveland.
After our first eviction, we had our first return to the house. Last season, all the comics traveled together to the competition. This time, everyone waited at the house except for the two comics performing, and the comic remaining from the competition entered the house to reveal the results of the competition, a la The Apprentice.
In this case, of course, the winner was John Heffron, who had practically had a nervous breakdown when he succumbed to pressure from the ANT Cabal to vote against his friend Bonnie ... and then had to compete against her. Even though John won resoundingly, he was still on the verge of a nervous breakdown as he re-entered the Comic House. After shedding a few tears, he made his declaration of independence: "For the rest of this show, I am the lone wolf. I'll be part of no groups. I have to strictly vote on my heart for the rest of my time."
And I cheered! Dang, this house is pickin' up a little.
My mood only picks up when later we see John looking for his water bottle, and Gary solemnly advising John to drink all the water he can, because he's probably dehydrated from all the crying.
Breathe Deep, And Let It All Out
Apparently the producers were worried about all the stress from this first elimination, because they provided the comics with a yoga instructor. Watching the comics mug their way through the routine -- listen to the wacky music as ANT smokes and Corey scrunches his shoulders! -- only serves to increase my tension level again.
On The Road Again
Time for the comics to hit the road ... not as in a read trip, but as in a tourbus. The comics had to act as tour guides on a tourbus. The winner would receive new headshots, and, more importantly, immunity from the next head-to-head competition. Two comics entered a bus, each acted as tour guide, and then the passengers voted on who should stay. The loser left, and the next competitor would face against the winner, until everyone had acted as read trip at least once.
First up as roommate versus roommate as Corey went against ANT. Corey mixed a little faux celeb talk ("how many of you ever heard of Chris Rock? his cousin lives right there, ladies and gentlemen") with his usual horndog patter (pointing out Sunset Boulevard as a place where the guys could pick up female companionship if they were having problems with their girlfriends). He received a lukewarm response.
ANT said in interview, "I'm not going to go in there use jokes, because those people don't want to hear jokes. They paid $29.95 to see the stars' homes and to learn about Hollywood and here famous people stood, drank and died. And that's what I plan to give them." And I gotta give him his props, he gave a great line of patter -- Jennifer Aniston's old house, Aaron Spelling's home, etc. He was -- I hate to say it -- personable and interesting, and won in a landslide.
And continued to win. Kathleen tried a joke about how all of American looks the same now, and that's why it's good to go to Detroit, "because they don't have any of this crap getting in the way of the gun fire. It's just abandoned buildings and Dunkin' Donuts. That's why you should go out of your way to see the real America and go to Detroit." It just couldn't compete with a (no doubt fake) autograph of Jim Carrey and the first house of Marilyn Monroe. In interview, Kathleen said that even she enjoyed listening to ANT. Kathleen got one vote, probably a sympathy vote, and the girl who gave her that vote got a glare from the guy sitting next to her.
One by one, they fell. The last contestant to go against ANT was Todd, who seemed on the verge of making giving ANT a run for his money, but then he just gave up. Apparently, he thought that was good strategy -- perhaps looking for sympathy. Once again, ANT won, unanimously. ANT outlasted them all, which is sort of a post-apocalyptic metaphor of the insects outlasting humans after the nuclear bomb drops.
But like I said, I have to give ANT props. He kept his patter running for eight rounds. It was, of course, all lies. Lies, lies, lies. But I'm amazed that the man that can only come up with one joke could make up that much for that long.
When Comics Stop Being Polite ...
What happens next is very, very strange, and not very well documented. While I don't think Tammy is the most reliable narrator ever, she is the one who describes the situation on the show, so here's what she said: "We're all on the bus having a good time, and Todd being Todd, says something ridiculous and uses a word that offends Ant sa a gay man. So ANT uses an analogy that makes him use the N-word. Then Corey ... then it just ... then the dam burst."
After Tammy's narration, we go to the camera in the bus, and I'm a bit miffed at NBC because we didn't just get to see what was said to begin with. Corey yelled at ANT ("if that's the way you feel, use it all the time" (as opposed to just for shock value)), and ANT yelled back at Corey ("You are so clueless about everything. Clueless. Clueless. Clueless.").
Now, not having heard what was actually said, it's hard to judge. Todd remarked in interview, "ANT, you know, is constantly trying to push your buttons. And it's dangerous to push people's buttons." He later added, "I don't approve of the way, maybe, Corey handled it. But ANT -- he knew what he was doing." Of course, since Todd made the initial comment, maybe he's not a particularly reliable narrator either.
Kathleen remarked afterwards, "I didn't sign up for the Real World. What happened to comedians!" The producers stuck in some Real-World-esque editing (the music, the handwritten notes), and once again I got the happies, between a little production snark and Kathleen voicing my frustration.
Of course, once again ANT brought me down. He perkily decided the next day that he "shouldn't have used that word," went to Corey and apologized, and the two shook hands. Okay, I know that's the right result. But it's a result with precious little snark value.
This Week's Nominees
After all the tension, people were uptight when it came to nominations. Several people probably would have voted for ANT, but of course he had immunity. So here's how the nominations went down:
- ANT nominated Todd.
- Alonzo nominated Todd.
- Corey nominated Tammy (which I thought was pretty bold -- Corey was one who wanted ANT, and I guess he took Tammy as a substitute representative of the ANT Cabal).
- Gary nominated Tammy.
- Kathleen nominated Gary (who looked shocked).
- John nominated Alonzo (which -- does he really think he could beat Alonzo? or was this his substitute representative of the ANT Cabal who bullied him last week).
- Tammy nominated Corey.
- Jay nominated Todd.
- Todd nominated Tammy (remarking this was someone he'd followed before in performances, and it hadn't been hard).
A tie! Our first tie! As I wondered how they'd handle it, the natural solution arose in my mind, and sure enough, that's what the show did -- the two comics who were tied competed against each other.
Breaking The Tie
Last week, the comics had been uptight about performing. This week, they seemed to have a little fire to them. Todd remarked, "I feel good. I'm ready to perform. But I have no idea tonight who's going to win. I really think that it's 50-50. You know? It just depends who the audience takes a liking to." For her part, Tammy just wanted Todd to get out of her way -- one less person in the house gets her one step closer to the final five.
She also reflected prior to the performance that "I want people to see that female comedians are more than just talking about, you know, boyfriends and junky stuff. So it would be nice if I could pull it off, just to show that, you know, look, I can hang with the big dogs, it's not like I need some special treatment because I'm a girl." So much that I don't like there. It's not the content of the material, it's the quality of it -- there are great boyfriend jokes and horrible ones. And getting special treatment by latching onto a little alliance is no more honorable than getting special treatment for being a girl.
Anyway -- Tammy was the first to perform. Much of her act was familiar from the audition rounds. Once again, we heard the Sicilian Mafia jokes. They were funny, still enjoyed them, particularly the "I shot a pilot"/"Don't say that over the phone!" A bit of new stuff. Once again the Amish rollerblader joke, which I still don't get. Honestly, these people are making Dat Phan look good, the way we keep hearing the same jokes over and over.
Then it was Todd's turn. He put out a ton of energy, with some pretty so-so material (his girlfriend wanted him to smell someone who stunk ... ummm, yeah, that was it), but he pushed it through. Several times he built up jokes that individually weren't that funny, but together were gigglicious. (Talking about ho offensive it is to wear a bad hairpiece. "I don't know where to look with people with bad hairpieces. You ever look up? You don't know where to look. Why don't you wear Spandex pants while you're at it so I'll have no safe zone to look. Oh! Oh! Oh! Throw on a braided leather belt and a fanny pack. Oh! Oh!" Trust me, the rapidfire delivery makes it funnier.) I really enjoyed his finishing bit, about the lifespan of various personal products -- shaving cream lasts forever; deodorant, you scrape your armpits trying to get the last little bit; shampoo; conditioner; toothpaste. It built, was funny -- and somehow the very end of it -- and the end of the act -- just did not put a stamp on it. (Quick shout-out to The Dead Zone Season One DVDs, which I've been enjoying, including the commentary, where they used the expression "put a stamp on a performance.")
Based on who I want in the house, I'd vote for Todd. Based on how I enjoyed the performances tonight, I'd vote for Todd. But, if I hadn't already heard the Mafia jokes two or three times already, I would have voted for Tammy. As, in fact, the audience did -- but the vote actually reflected my mixed feelings, because it was a 55-45 split. According to host Jay Mohr, this was the closest vote they'd had for a head-to-head showdown.
Last week, I wrote, that "maybe this week was a wake-up call for John Heffron. Maybe he'll grow a spine." And hey, he did! Maybe there's hope for the season.
Last Comic Standing is on Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.
Recaps at The Trades: Episode 1
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