This is how I suppose it all went down: Each comic prepared their set. They arrived this morning (shows are pre-taped) assuming they were going to perform but not really too sure. Then, suddenly, there they are, standing next to a bunch of others hoping they won't get kicked off. Their name is called; they're thrusted off stage and back on again with little warning. Plus, now there are judges again. It's a trip.
So I can understand why they were all very shaken up tonight. Most of the comics stumbled through jokes, losing their rhythm each time the audience applauded—which was often. I'd chalk it up to something lost in translation from stage to screen, but Natasha Leggero, the only judge to go remotely negative the entire night, said a lot of the things I was thinking (which admittedly sounds like terrible faint praise for a comic).
Because this was the second time we saw these comics do longer sets, I did get a better sense of each of their styles. Still, while no one was, you know, bad, it wasn't the strongest night for just about anyone.
We bid adieu to James Adomian (would have liked to see more), Laurie Kilmartin (I think I've seen enough), and Maronzio Vance (not terribly memorable), and got on with the show:
- Mike DeStefano, despite going first, actually didn't seem fazed at all by his peer being eliminated mere seconds before. He was his normal self. Which is to say, he was an unusually loud and brassy guy telling jokes that weren't really all that surprising. He talked about going to couples therapy with his girlfriend and how she talked, but he wasn't really listening. And can the therapist get her off his back once and for all? My goodness, with the ladies and the thing. Ugh. Though "Does it clean shame?" wasn't bad.
- Roy Wood Jr. I missed because the sound cut out on my TV for no good reason at all. It corrected itself during Andy Kindler's feedback, and it sounded like he did alright.
- Myq Kaplan wasn't too distracted by the elimination, either, launching right into jokes about how they can make him look "less Jewish in post" and how he's "gay friendly, or according to the football players who used to beat me up, gay." Those jokes hit—Kaplan is good at delving into turns of phrases—but a tangent about how "women have it rough" slowed the momentum near the end.
- Rachel Feinstein took a step back from last week, doing a single-focused bit about some douche she ran into in Vegas. He was a douche, maybe named Chad—pretty cliché way to talk about this person. Then she played a '40s woman who was confused about the meaning of Las Vegas, and trailed off. A little wobbly.
- Tommy Johnagin was, sadly, the most nervous for the night. His usual ease with oddball humor was gone, and instead he threw out his premises and hoped they'd stick. He talked about his bad break-up and how satisfying it was to hear another crazed dumpee "out crazy" him. When the audience applauded, it seemed like he started over, even in the middle of setting up bigger bits.
- Felipe Esparza was only a little shaken, but his jokes weren't as left-field or unexpected as his other material. He spoke about living in a gated community—gates on the windows, the back door, etc.—and how Guitar Hero has ruined his ability to remember words to songs. But the punchlines didn't get much further than the most obvious joke about each topic; on the Guitar Hero bit, he delivered one line, a demonstration of the line, and called it quits prematurely (albeit probably due to time).
- Jonathan Thymius is still someone I haven't totally warmed up to yet. He's got a different rhythm to his set, but jokes only work best when they're shockingly personal. He's happy to learn he's not the devil because the tag on his underwear says "satin"? Eh, alright. But claiming to be home-schooled and going on field trips to the liquor store, his mom's boyfriend's place, and grandma's house aka his "new school"? More of that, please.
- "Chocolate lord of seduction." Craig Robinson's only worthwhile contribution for the night. It says more about NBC limiting him than it does Robinson, though. He's capable of a lot more, like that awesome Mel Gibson hot tub joke.