Reality Bites: Last Comic Standing 2 - Finale
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: August 13, 2004
And here we are, finally, at the season finale of Last Comic Standing 2! Last week, Gary Gulman, Alonzo Bodden, and John Heffron each performed, and then America had a chance to vote for the best comic. Tonight, we find out who will be the next Last Comic Standing.
Season One Comics
Before the results, though, and even before performances by this year's crew, we had performances from last season's runner-up, Ralphie May, and last season's winner, Dat Phan.
Ralphie is a big force in comedy -- both from his work (he started at age 17, and has been involved in projects both on-stage and behind-the-scenes) and from his size. Last season, he was 450 pounds. After Last Comic Standing 1, he had gastric bypass surgery, but still was a big guy on stage.
Ralphie's size wasn't the only familiar thing about him, though. He started off talking about where he lived in Da Hood, and in particular how they did not have "Jack-in-the-Box" restaurants, but "Jizzack-up-in-the-Beeyox" restaurants -- the same material that he used for his auditions in Season 1! Now, don't get me wrong, I always have and always will love the Jizzack-up-in-the-Beeyox routine ("... and I need a chicken sammich for my baby's mama," although I'd swear I first heard it as "fries for my baby's mama" and like it better that way), but dear heaven, he's recycling material from the audition stage of last year's show! Ummm, Ralphie, did it occur to you that people who watched this year might also have watched last year, and seen you do that at the auditions and when you were up against Rob Cantrell?
Ralphie also did some material about Iraq, a subject near and dear to Ralphie's heart. He performed in Iraq for soldiers, and in fact the bonus features for his DVD "Just Correct" included not just footage of performances in Iraq, but a bit of a video diary and interviews with soldiers. (Truthfully, that material was more interesting and had more potential than the standard concert footage that was the main feature of the DVD. It's a shame there wasn't a documentarian working with him to develop that stuff.)
For me, the only new chuckle tonight was at his off-hand remark about being shot at every day, and that it was no wonder the Iraqis lost the war so quickly, because "if you can't hit me, you stink." A riff about rednecks with mullets rising up if St. Louis was attacked, because it would disrupt the supply of Budweiser, met with a roar of approval from the crowd. It was amusing, but it sounded familiar to me, and I wonder if I might have heard it on his DVD already.
While overall Ralphie was well received by the crowd, I was disappointed in his set. Considering Ralphie's tenure as a comic, it was shocking that he presented so little new material tonight
Dat Phan, a young Vietnamese kid, was the Last Comic Standing from last season. For most of the season he was everyone's younger brother that drives you nuts and you can't resist teasing, so it was a bit of a shock when he won the whole thing.
Also because his material wasn't that good. It tended to be unidimensional, and unfortunately often mocking his mother.
Tonight, Dat wasn't terrible. His deliver continues to improve. However, his material was still weak. He spent a lot of time making fun of having to speak with an accent because he kept getting roles playing a stereotypical Vietnamese guy. But there wasn't that level of insight and revelation that separates great comedy from making fun of funny-sounding talk. Fortunately, his mom got off fairly easily tonight ... the only laugh at her expense was of her reaction to seeing her son play a Viet Cong on West Wing.
Most of the material was new -- and it should be doubly shaming to Ralphie that Dat Phan brought more new material than he did, at least in terms of what we've seen on Last Comic Standing. Dat did reprise his bit about a guy in the bathroom thinking he knew martial arts (used in last year's season finale and during competition).
As usual, the funniest part of Dat Phan's segment was seeing snips of the infamous hide-and-no-seek that the other comics played with Dat Phan -- I'm not sure that I've ever laughed harder at anything on TV than the whole sequence of the game.
Season Two Comics
Having seen the top two finishers from last season, we moved on to seeing final performances from this season's top three finishers.
Alonzo came out and was immediately on the offensive -- voting time was over, I guess! He said that he'd been checking the message boards, and had been getting flack for being mean. He felt there was no such thing as a mean joke -- something's either funny, or it's not. Alonzo, my friend -- this is not funny.
Alonzo did bring some humor in talking about being black. "Everybody wants to be black ... 'til the cops come." He was less successful in bringing back the funny when he explained why he joked about women: "I figure I can pick on you because you're the more advanced of the species." Ummmm, yeah. Okay.
Last week, I complained about the suit that Gary was wearing. This week, no complaints -- a button-down shirt, but way un-buttoned.
As far as his set goes, though ... definitely his worst! He had an extended bit mocking a cousin who didn't want to know if she was having a boy or a girl because she wanted it to be a surprise. "Am I missing something? Isn't it always, every time, either a boy or a girl?"
This was the weakest material I've heard from Gary. He finished with a bit about facial hair -- it's a goatee if it's on your chin; it's a Van Dyke if it goes all the way around your mouth; and if it's just a beard and no moustache, it's called ugly. Yeah, it was that bad when he said it, too. And it was pretty embarrassing when Gary had to start his "ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much" in dead silence.
It's a good thing Gary didn't pull this material earlier; otherwise, he never would have made it to the finals.
John Heffron whipped through his set. He went back to the theme of getting old (dude, you're 30 -- trust me when I tell you you're in severe danger of alienating a lot of your audience if you keep that up). He also riffed about how complicated gas pumps were, and well, that was pretty much it!
And finally, we get the results!
Second runner-up: Gary Gulman.
First runner-up: Alonzo Bodden.
LAST COMIC STANDING: John Heffron.
Final Comments: Wow. Well, I know I indicated last week that I could picture any of these guys winning, but I have to admit, when the results were announced, I was shocked that John won. I guess deep down, I didn't think that he would do better than number three. Gary and Alonzo just seemed so much better in terms of their delivery and their originality.
However, I think John won fair and square, and wish him a lot of success. And, as we learned last season, just because you don't win the title of Last Comic Standing doesn't mean you're a loser. I'm sure that Alonzo and Gary will also have a lot of opportunities arising from their exposure on this show.
And speaking of last season, y'all have heard me doing a lot of comparisons of this season to last one. Well, Last Comic Standing 3, which is scheduled to kick in right after the Summer Olympics on August 30, will pit the comics of Season 1 against the comics of Season 2. Host Jay Mohr wouldn't provide any details of how the competition will work, but I suspect it won't include the house material that made Season 1 special. It could be great; it could fizzle. Either way, though, I'm looking forward to seeing old friends from Season 1, like Dave Mordal, Rich Vos, and Tess Drake, back in action and competing against new friends from Season 2, like Gary Gulman, Alonzo Bodden and Kathleen Madigan.
Recaps at The Trades: House Episode 1 | House Episode 2 | House Episode 3 | House Episode 4 | House Episode 5 | Wild Card Competition | Wild Card Results | Final Six Competition | Final Six Results | Final Three Competition
More Resources on the Internet: NBC.com's Official Site | SirLinksalot.net
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