Reality Bites: Last Comic Standing 3 - Episode 2
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: September 1, 2004
Last night, five comics from Season One of Last Comic Standing (selected by the cast of Season Two) and five comics from Season Two of Last Comic Standing (selected by the cast of Season One) performed, and America voted for their favorite comics. This week's show started with Jay Mohr letting us know which team received the most votes (and, therefore, which cast received a $50,000 prize). I would have said that Season One had the stronger team, but the winning team was actually Season Two. That's a bad omen for the Season One cast, because if a team consisting of four of their top five and a favorite early evictee can't beat a mixed team of Season Two, they're not likely to win any of the team competitions.
Tonight, the "other" comics -- those not selected to perform last night -- took to the stage and competed. I'm not sure if the comics knew that they were, in essence, selecting for two competitions when they made their choices. On the one hand, I'd sort of liked the thought of possibly forcing one comic to come up with new material every week; on the other hand, this at least makes sure that we see everybody perform, which makes for better balance in the show and helps when it comes time for the audience to ultimately select this season's Last Comic Standing.
Tere Joyce (Season One)
In the first season, Tere was best known for a spikey, Statue-of-Liberty-esque hairstyle. This season, Tere's hair is more normal, which allows for better focus on her comedy. Her first season material focused on being an air-head and neurotic. Her material tonight tended towards dippy, sexy material, such as her outraged rejoinder to a man who thought she was a hooker, "I give it up for free!" On the one hand, she's not really sex kitten enough to make the stuff believable. On the other hand, comedy isn't necessarily about what's realistic, is it? She hasn't improved as much as I'd hoped she would last season, but she's not as bad as she was at her first audition, and I thought this set was passable. Overall grade: C+.
Jay London (Season Two)
Jay London gave the same act he's always given -- "Thank you." Clever word play. "It's almost over." Clever word play. Cle-ver word ... ? Clever word play. "Thank you." As usual, there was material I laughed at, such as his opening. "Today I videotaped my hair. Tonight I'm going to look at the highlights." But the self-deprecation -- even at variance to the crowd's actual reaction -- and the sameness of his set in form (even as the actual lines change) grates on me more and more every time I see him. His material averages to solid B (lots of As, lots of Cs), but factoring in performance, and admittedly biased from having seen him perform many times in Last Comic Standing Two ... Overall grade: C-.
Rob Cantrell (Season One)
Rob is a bit more clean-cut than he was in Season One, and his material is more accessible. His opening material was the strongest, about a new girlfriend who will only have sex in missionary style, "which means we got to go door to door, do it in front of strangers, and tell them our way is the only way you can do it." I also liked his line about money talking -- "all it ever says to me is 'see ya, bitch!'" All more accessible than his talk about "fronkeys," and he didn't step on his material with the audience as he did in the first season, but he also didn't have the unexpected depth to his comedy that his riff on strip clubs did last season. Overall grade: B-.
Corey Holcomb (Season Two)
Corey's main schtick last year was his womanizing tendencies, and Corey returned to that here. "My girlfriend found out I was messing around with this other chick, so she called my wife." Sometimes Corey's material comes across as incredibly offensive. It works best when, as here, Corey made the joke on himself instead of on the women. And Corey just plain has a likeable delivery. His description of the guy telling him he had "pretty feet" made me chuckle. Overall grade: B-.
Dat Phan (Season One)
Dat Phan was the controversial winner of the first season of Last Comic Standing. Controversial not because he had edgy, innovative material, but because many people regarded him as having weak material, and being repetitive in his act. Dat's act would have fit straight in with the first season. He immediately went to talking about racism. "The funniest racist people are the ones that don't even know that they're racists." He then gave an example of a guy who thought he was Mexican -- not having anything to do with whether or not the guy himself thought he was racist. He also pulled out a joke from last season, about racist guys mock-talking in Vietnamese and how he didn't walk by white people spewing random words. I've always hated that joke simply because it Just Doesn't Work. The words the hypothetical racists say are not real words, and Dat tends use words like "truck" or "airplane" when he imitates using the same technique on the racists, but those sound like things he might be seeing and not random words. (Okay, I've thought too much about this joke. But I've had several opportunities). I give Dat a little credit for trying to be topical, but bringing up John Kerry's time in Vietnam and suggesting that the reporters should ask the Vietnamese people about whether or not Kerry was there. But, while original, it wasn't particularly funny either. Overall grade: C-.
Gary Gulman (Season Two)
Gary was wearing an awful, ugly shirt, but underneath it I could see the red T-shirt of power. Gary tickled me with his opening about how celery should call up Buffalo wings and say thank you. "Thank you so much for taking me on the road with you. Peanut butter is not talking with me anymore. Tell blue cheese I said hi, and see you at Friday's." Less successful to me was the bit about how the walrus looks like a last-minute creation by G-d ("G-d's greatest hits"). Overall grade: B-.
Geoff Brown (Season One)
Geoff was one of my least favorite comics from Season One, and he didn't move up in my standings at all with this performance. He built it on a series of grating questions, such as "Why does the guy at the drive-through window act like them little packets of ketchup come directly out of his check?" He also railed against old people who buy old police cars and advocated practical jokes to scare them, and complained that the onus of size in sex should not be on the man alone. Just not funny. Overall grade: D-.
Kathleen Madigan (Season Two)
Kathleen's material was in stark contrast to Geoff's. She was smart and funny and delivered the way that we all hoped she would last season. Her set was focused on George W. Bush, with funny material and great delivery. My favorite part was when she talked about Bush explaining things to us "the way they were explained to him. And you can always tell when one is coming, because he says 'in other words' about words that usually didn't need other words. He's like, 'Osama Bin Laden, still hidin'. In other words, playin' peek-a-boo.'" That joke just works on so many levels -- the giggle factor of the word "peek-a-boo," the image of the President of the United States saying that, the image of Presidential Advisers saying, "He's hiding. You know, sir, like peek-a-boo." Great job. Overall grade: A-.
Sean Kent (Season One)
Sean was the very first evictee from Season One. He came across as marginally talented at best, and very uptight. Undoubtedly, being only just recovering from cancer treatments didn't help. Recovered from cancer, his material was still weak. A bit about dancing how you make love was just ... well ... limp. There was more promise in his material about medical marijuana, because he could provide a different perspective on that, but he only did the most superficial jokes (a counter to the government saying medical marijuana isn't necessary because there are other drugs to combat nausea: "do any of those drugs make 'Who's the Boss' funny?"). Overall grade: C-.
ANT (Season Two)
ANT's material is about being gay. That's it. Tonight he spent a lot of time talking about the Boy Scouts -- they don't welcome gays, but gee, look at them -- they wear matching uniforms, with kerchiefs, and they get patches that they sew on sashes. "That's gay." It's superficial, it's stereotypical, and it's not any funnier out of ANT's mouth because he's gay himself. Overall grade: C-.
Evictees: At the start of the show, we found out which team won the prize for most overall votes. But the voting had another influence on the game. The comic from each team who received the least votes was eliminated from the competition. For Season One, I had chosen Tess as the evictee. However, the voting had Cory Kahaney leaving. That surprised me a little -- I thought she had a solid if uninspiring set, and put her squarely in the middle of the Season One performances. From Season Two, I had chosen Todd as the evictee. The audience evicted Jessica Kirson. I have no complaints with that. I had objected to Jessica being included in the first place, and while her performance last night wasn't as awful as we'd seen her do in auditions last season, I still wasn't looking forward to having her there for long.
Final Thoughts: Well, if Season Two won the House Prize for last night's competition, they'll definitely win the prize for this night as well. All the weakest competitors from Season One squared off against a Season Two group that included popular comics Kathleen Madigan and Gary Gulman. As far as evictees go, I'd say that from Season One, Tere Joyce will be leaving (although my preference would be for Geoff, Sean Kent is another strong possibility, and I'd laugh and laugh if it were Dat Phan). From Season Two, I think it might be Corey Holcomb, although my preference would be for ANT.
Last Comic Standing is on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, on NBC.
Recaps at The Trades: Episode 1
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