If the comics who audition for this show are already somewhat established, and the judges are comedy insiders, there's a bit of a predicament hatching: Should the judgment be based simply on the audition, or on the judge's knowledge of the comic's entire run of material? In the interest of total fairness, my vote is with the former. It's not fair to a comedian the judge might not know if a longer, likely favorable block of jokes is solidified in his or her head. But over and over, we keep seeing lackluster performers making their way to the showcase simply because the judge has seen them do it better. The comics' fates are sealed before they even open their mouths.
Even after three weeks of competition, it's all still very confusing. I mean, I understand the judges are just trying to do their jobs. If they know a comic can deliver, why not better the competition and let them on through? It's clearly not an ideal situation, them telling one joke upon which their entire comedy career is hinged. But isn't Last Comic Standing, for better or worse, all about those snap judgments? It's meant to be inclusive; I mean, we witness these preliminary audition rounds even though we have no say. And though some of these comics have a reputation, most of us don't know them, and all we can base our "decision" on is that snippet of jokes. That's all we get. If they want more, they should allow for more.
Obviously I don't like it, either. Take a comedian like Myq Kaplan, who I am already quite familiar with. As a crafter of one-liners, he's great; as a guy performing a five to six minute act, his tenacity with the form and verbal prowess is downright impressive. Yeah, he's going to make it on regardless, but give him some room to breathe, and he'll easily set himself aside as the guy to watch. That's what I love about Last Comic Standing: the potential to elevate the form.
But this is all in theory, because while I'm thankful some of these comics have a mainstream outlet at all, the show continues to baffle me with how much it shortchanges the performers. Acts are over quicker than they begin, most not even all that memorable. And to waste three minutes giving that Despicable Me guy screen time…well, they do what they have to do, even if it blows. (Not even Kindler and Leggero making fun of their shill selves could salvage that wreck.) And why is it that all the bad acts are way freaky and/or in costume and/or have props? What about a few bad acts who just sit and talk? Why does Chris Rock's brother look like a secret character from NBA Jam TE? And what's the deal with airline peanuts?
Okay, I'm done ranting, because there was some good stuff tonight (not to mention an oddly thoughtful Andy Kindler). I'm thinking this time around, let's try a bulleted list for my favorites:
- Mike Vecchione, because even though he talked a lot about his "cop look" as a freakin' tough guy, he played against his type by dorking out about "things that don't go together," like cocaine and fishing. Always a wise move, keep expectations in check.
- Adrienne Iapalucci, not just because of her lovable Julia Roberts look, but for her sort of *shrug* attitude about racism and mistreating children.
- Myq Kaplan, wordplay guy who's frantic pace forces the audience to stay on its toes.
- Nick Cobb, who has the confidence to let his jokes work slowly. The knee thing worked because not only did he think of innovative situations besides proposing marriage where one would be on one knee, but he didn't feel pressure to make every "two knee" line funny. He saved the big laughs for the ending.
- Carmen Lynch, for pulling off all-new material in her showcase set. First of all…never do that. Do your best stuff, not something you haven't fine tuned. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit the image of an egg being shoved back inside a chicken wasn't forever stamped in my brain…
Next week: Something real might happen. I hope that "about it", I will "be."