Reality Bites: Last Comic Standing 2 - House Episode 3
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: July 7, 2004
Last week, the ANT Cabal continued their reign, with Tammy Pescatelli eking out a victory over the Cabal's target, Todd Glass.
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. Gary Gulman: A tall, gorgeous, and Jewish comedian from Boston.
4. John Heffron: Gen X comic, just starting to grow up, from Detroit.
5. Corey Holcomb: A horndog black comedian from Chicago.
6. Jay London: Self-proclaimed "fourth guy from the left on the evolutionary chart" and schtick comic, from Los Angeles.
7. Kathleen Madigan: Wry comic from St. Louis.
8. Tammy Pescatelli: Sicilian comedian from Cleveland.
Returning home after the competition, Tammy anticipated a mixed reaction from the Comic House. "ANT's going to be happy. Gary Might feel a little awkward, since he did vote for me, and he's lost his leader."
Tammy was right on target. ANT was overjoyed, and Gary was wary. In interview, Gary said that he was disappointed that Todd had lost. "It's like losing your best friend, at a time when you really needed a best friend. I didn't get involved in an alliance, and it may hurt me, that I'm not protected against the ANT Camp."
Ha! The ANT Camp! That's so perfect! I am deeply shamed that I didn't come up with it.
Not only did Gary come up with le mot juste, but he also was correct in his suspicions about his vulnerability. ANT confirmed in interview that the plan was to get rid of Bonnie, then Todd, then Gary.
You Oughta Be In Pictures
Last week, when ANT won immunity, he also won a session with a professional photographer for head shots. This week, ANT approached Jay London and offered him the photo session, claiming that he had just gotten a new set of head shots anyway. Jay was touched that ANT was generous enough to give up $1200 worth of photography. "What a guy," he marveled.
Well, no, it's ANT we're talking about. And ANT ain't no nice guy. ANT explained, "Jay is an individual who wants desperately to be liked. Armed with that knowledge, I manipulate him into doing exactly what I want him to do. He will vote for the person that we want him to vote for next."
Oh, well ... I certainly had much more fun watching Jay have the photo session with Will Blochinger than I would have had watching ANT. Jay seems like a sweet guy, and is cute in his own Neanderthal way. While ANT is ... well, ANT.
Countdown To Comedy
John Heffron made a pilgrimage to the fortune teller's booth, with the plea, "I want to be big." (At least big enough that you can stop carrying that package of Tums in your pocket, eh, John?) The fortune teller responded by giving him the clue for the next challenge: "The challenge tomorrow is to show another comic how much you love them."
Host Jay Mohr explained that the comics were to vote for the housemate whom they loved the most. That comic would be "roasted" at the Friars Club in Beverly Hills. (Corey needed an explanation of the Friars Club.) The winner wins a free one-year's membership in the Friars Club of Beverly Hills. "And in case you're wondering," he added, "one of you is going to in immunity." Plus, Jay had some information in a sealed envelope, to be saved for after the competition is over.
At voting time, it turned out that Alonzo had no votes, Gary had one vote, and Jay had six! That meant Jay would be the roastee, so the rest of the votes would remain a secret (shout-out to Survivor). And once again, ANT was the one shining the spotlight on Jay. "I had our alliance go for Jay London, because we felt he would be the easiest to roast, giving the Alliance the best chance at winning immunity, because then Gary goes buh-bye." Okay, who's going to be the one to tell ANT that if Jay is easiest to roast for the Cabal, he's the easiest to roast for the others?
Of course, "easy" is a relative concept. Overall, John Heffron found the assignment hard, because it meant coming up with all new material. "Prior to the house, I had no Jay London material." He went to Jay and got some info from him -- previous employment, favorite animal, etc.
Gary applied himself with a vengeance, knowing that he needed immunity. He and John talked about the frantic 24-hour writing spree with good humor. And John continued to please me by giving the camera the most sarcastic look I have ever seen when he told ANT that one of his jokes as funny.
Take These Comics, Please
At the Friars Club, the comics were judged by three venerable comics: Norm Crosby, Phyllis Diller, and Rich Little.
First up was Gary, who was an equal opportunity comic. He hit the three judges, the other comics, and of course Jay London. He got a huge laugh out of Corey with a line about how at Thanksgiving dinner at Corey's house there was a kids' table and an illegitimate kids' table. Of course, my favorite was the one about ANT: "I don't know if you know ANT. ANT is gay. ANT is very gay. But he's more than that. He's also irritating, sneaky and bald." It wasn't really funny. But oh so enjoyable!
John was next, and his questioning of Jay paid off. Referring to Jay's previous job cleaning out horse stalls, John had one of the best lines with "how confusing was it that week for those flies?"
Kathleen pretty well bombed. She admitted in interview that she didn't like roasts. "I would have given someone a million dollars just to let me go bak to the Laundromat," referring to the disastrous Laundromat competition in the first week. Corey said in interview that he'd really wanted to kill. Unfortunately, he didn't, and admitted that he hadn't prepared as well as he should have.
ANT started off with a joke that "Jay was just rejected by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Of course. Even talking about someone else, ANT has to go with the gay. Tammy referenced Festus from Gunsmoke in her routine, which got a good response from the crowd (most of whom remembered seeing Gunsmoke in primetime.
Alonzo had the best overall set, stating that Jay was a "wise man, a peaceful man, possibly a Cro-Magnon man." He also said that Jay had put a personal ad in National Geographic, and was looking for an endorsement deal from Goodwill. "Jay has activewear for daytime pushing of a shopping cart, and formalwear for a nice evening around a burning trash can."
Jay London himself got to take the podium, remaking, "It's a pleasure to be here tonight. Thank you. Take my life, please." Personally, I thought that was great, but he followed it up with "0 for one." He also said he was "0 for 2" with the joke about the female impressionist ("She does everybody."). I'd expected Jay to kill in front of this crowd, but I thought the self-deprecation was squashing his jokes.
After everyone performed, the three judges gave their comments. Norm complimented everyone on their delivery. He said noted that Kathleen had weak material, as did Corey (although he thought Corey was charming). Corey gave a great reaction shot -- I think that he'd probably do well in a sit-com, because he really can do some expressive reactions. He thought that Alonzo and John both had good material. Gary he found clever, but too crude.
Phyllis liked John Heffron, whom she called "the cute one" -- she thought he was a terrific writer and had a lot of talent. She thought Kathleen just wasn't the right person for roasts. To Alonzo, she said, "I love your hair, and your material is marvelous. You're a good writer."
Rich Little also said that Gary had good delivery, but was too blue. He also felt that Gary hadn't included enough jokes about Jay. Alonzo, however, "blew [Rich] away." To ANT, he said, "No offense, but you should be in a home." ANT responded, "Yours?" and Rich quickly clarified, "Not mine. We have a dog." Rich liked Jay, and liked Jay's self-deprecating aspects (go figure).
No surprise, but the winner was Alonzo (with a score of 9.3 out of 10). What was a surprise was what was in the sealed envelope that Jay Mohr had referenced. When the envelope was opened, the comics found out that immunity did not go to the winner of the competition, but to the one who had been roasted. Alonzo wasn't happy that he hadn't won immunity, but I thought it was a nice twist.
And overall, this was a nice competition. We got to see the comics working, we got to see new material, and the celebrity judges had the chance to give really good feedback.
Once Gary knew that he didn't have immunity, he knew that he'd be on the chopping block. So instead of whimpering, he went on the offensive and tried to bait ANT into voting for him, so that he'd have the opportunity to choose ANT to go against.
Out in the yard, Gary told ANT, "Lick your chops, ANT. I'm very beatable tonight." Feigning jittery hands, he said, "Look how nervous I am. I'm very nervous."
ANT coolly responded with a comment about Kathleen beating Gary. Gary remarked in surprise, "Oh really? You're going to go that route?" "Of course," ANT retorted. "I'm not stupid." Since Gary can only challenge people who voted for him, ANT could shield himself from being picked by Gary if he voted for someone else.
"You're not going to vote for me? After all this, you're not going to vote for me?" Gary asked incredulously. "Nope," ANT replied. "That's great," Gary said in disgust. "Let Kathleen fight your battles. If you do that, you're a little bit of a coward." ANT said that he was just playing the game, and "maybe next week will be [his] week."
Finally, Gary stalked off, stating that this was beneath him.
And as he left, he carried my heart with him. What a warrior! Way to throw down the gauntlet, Gary! Way to smoosh ANT underneath the gauntlet, too!
This Week's Nominees
I was all atwitter waiting for this week's nominations (although even Jay Mohr's voiceover before the commercial break admitted, "who are we kidding? it's going to be Gary Gulman"). Here's how things played out:
- Jay nominated Gary.
- Corey nominated ANT.
- Gary nominated ANT (in a very firm voice).
- John nominated ANT (stating that this was a match which had to go down -- more on that later).
- Kathleen nominated Gary (who put his hand to his heart as though wounded).
- Alonzo nominated Gary.
- Tammy nominated Alonzo (causing Jay Mohr to remark "she is Sicilian with that strategy").
- ANT nominated Gary.
Well, well, well. ANT stepped up to the plate and opened himself up to Gary (who did indeed select him for the head-to-head competition). ANT explained in interview, "It was kind of decided, in my own mind, that I would be going up against Gary today." I suspect that it was kind of counted, in ANT's own head, and he realized that it would be a tie vote. We'd seen ANT and Tammy having a discussion where she'd told him that he couldn't "vote off" -- vote for someone who would not get the majority of the votes in order to avoid being selected for the head-to-head. ANT pointed out that she was doing that herself. Tammy said that she wasn't willing to go to competition again (having gone last week). Plus, she tried to convince ANT, ANT had to do it to save his reputation. Now, take ANT's knowledge of Tammy's plan to "vote off," combine it with maybe a knowledge that John wanted to provoke a match between ANT and Gary, and ANT might have known that without his own vote it would be a 3-3 tie between him and Gary. With a tie, Gary and ANT would have to face each other anyway, as we saw last week. So ANT decided to try to save face.
Gary was psyched for this battle. "I pretty much challenged ANT for a duel, in a sort of winner-take-all, put-up-or-shut-up. If I can beat him tonight, then there won't have to be any more mind games. I think it'll make it a more honest contest.
Gary started his set with some of the material we'd heard in his auditions -- about how he's tall, and his parents are short. He doesn't mind questions about his height, but he does mind the follow-ups, including the question about "how tall is the milkman?" It worked okay, but I missed the sarcastic riff about his mom having a thing for guys with antiquated jobs, including the muffin man -- "do you know the muffin man?"
He then went on to a bit about driving with his mom, and how nervous she is when he's driving. In reaching for the non-existent passenger-side brake, "she wants to slow us down by miming." He finished with an extended bit about Oreos. "My favorite invention, very important invention, without it I don't want to live -- Oreo cookies with Double Stuff." Not hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, but a good, sweet (ha!) set, with nice shaping, transitions and delivery.
Then there was ANT. Oh, dear heaven, don't make me recap. He did an extended set making fun of disaster procedures on airplanes (he used to be a flight attendant). Not funny. But it reminded me of one of my greatest idea ever: little training studios in airports where you can practice putting on life vests, opening emergency exits, etc. See, that's not funny, but that's useful. Which gives me a leg up on ANT. Which gives me a really, really bad visual image.
Which makes me very glad that I have the visual image of Gary, displaying his dimples and crossed fingers to the crowd just before the vote. Which might have contributed to the best visual image of the night -- Gary winning this competition with a score of 73%.
Wow, this was a better episode than I ever could have imagined after seeing the first week in the house. I thought the roast competition worked really well, and there was a good mix of comic material and house machinations. John is starting to impress me more, and I am now in love with Gary Gulman.
And ANT is gone! Is that the end of the ANT Cabal? In his final remarks, ANT stated that he was not the brains behind the alliance, and that "someone else is pulling the strings, and [he was] just their little puppet." Is it Kathleen? Tammy? Or perhaps it's Alonzo ... making the ANT Cabal the Al Cabal! (See, it's funnier if you say it out loud ... oh, never mind. 0 for one. Thank you.)
Last Comic Standing is on Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.
Recaps at The Trades: House Episode 1 | House Episode 2
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