May 29, 2008 11:13 PM by Lisa Stauber
Last Comic Standing kicks off the night in Los Angeles, screening hundreds of hopefuls to find the funny. Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez from The Office are on hand to scout out the best comics, and Fearne Cotton keeps us updated on how it’s going outside.
Host Bill Bellamy pops in every now and then to intro the contestants, but Oscar and Angela have the final say. “I’m looking for a set that looks very polished,” Angela says.
First up is Ron G, whose Dreamsnatcher bit gets him a pass to Tonight’s Showcase. Dana Eagle also gets a pass. “Very quirky,” Oscar remarks. Meanwhile, Fearne’s not impressed by a comic trying to hypnotize her with an umbrella, or the guy wearing a Barbie dreamhouse on his head. His act is worse than his costume – he actually opens with “My mortgage has fallen on me!” He swears he doesn’t want to be a comic, and that’s a good thing!
Melissa Tracy is just plain scary, hissing and stabbing with swords. She doesn’t make it, and none of the comics in the montage of bombing out do either. We get to see a lot of topless men who really should keep their shirts on, and some puppets. Yes, really.
A sheik takes the stage, making a joke about Rosie O’Donnell and the 72 virgins. It’s comic gold, but somehow he manages to make it unfunny. “We’re gonna pass,” Angela tells him.
Fearne and Bill introduce us to the Funny Booth, so we can see people bomb in an enclosed space. Poor Fearne is bravely trying to learn to be an American, trying to rap and breaking out her Robot dance!
Adam Richmond performs, and Oscar notes he has good material. A partner act shows up, the Dos Spanish Flies. They’ve got a funny song about LA Supermoms, and get a pass to the Showcase.
Jacob Sirof’s claim to fame is that he is a card carrying Star Wars nerd. He’s got tattoos in Jedi Language and Obi Wan Kenobi on his biceps. He gets a pass to the Showcase, and so does Erin Foley and her locksmith joke.
Angela and Oscar sit through a stream of bad acts. “It amazes me, the level of delusion in this country!” Oscar says.
Jackie Kashian, from Wisconsin, gets a quick pass to the Showcase, but Elvis Poultry doesn’t. Eddie Pepitone, a grumpy old man complete with a cigar, will be appearing tonight as will Ruby Wendell and Ben Gleib. “I would like to take a chance on him,” Angela says, and Oscar goes along, even though he says he would have passed.
Patrick Ford quit his job as a Microsoft suit in order to pursue his comic dreams, but he doesn’t make the cut. He looks great compared to Count Smokula, who comes next and features blinking goggles and an accordion.
Jennifer Murphy gets the last pass to the showcase, and it’s back to Fearne. She does her best to look interested in the comics backstage, but she plays a little broad.
Los Angeles Showcase
Ron G. takes the stage first, and he gets in a good line about too tall people being 6′ 13″. Erin Foley is next, then Jacob Sirof. He moves past his geek jokes to insult his kids. Dana Eagle shows us her underwear in a funny bit about thong flashing, and Jennifer Murphy wonders why guys call her crazy.
Fearne is still chatting up the comics backstage, and now she’s poking Adam Richmond in the gut. He has a passable act, and is followed by Esau McGraw and his bit about potato pie. Amber Tozer has small town blues, and Ben Gleib laments porn sites and computer viruses. Meghan Hounshell treats us with her guitar, and Chris Fairbanks, actually, I don’t remember what he did. Enough said.
The Dos Spanish Flies come up with a ballad to farting, and they are actually funny with their fake accents and oversize glasses. Their songs could be on aWeird Al CD. Jackie Kashian won’t date war re-enactment guys, even if they let her play, and Avi Leiberman jokes about mattress shopping. Eddie Pepitone always reads poetry before a set, and tonight he’s reading Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”. “Am I going to break the pattern of being a failure,” he wonders?
Angela and Oscar can only pick four to move on to the semifinals in Las Vegas, and they select Erin Foley, Ron G., Eddie Pepitone, and Jackie Kashian.
Moving onto Houston, where the line features more hats and fewer costumes, the comics will be judged by Alfonso Ribeiro, (remember him, the short guy from The Fresh Prince?) and Neil Flynn, of Scrubs.
First up is American Doll, a man dressed as a Barbie with a flag for a cape. He’s not funny, and it doesn’t help when he explains he’s a bipolar doll. Chris Voth kills with his mime funeral joke, and gets a pass to the showcase. Paul Varghese also will be appearing later tonight.
More bombing. One would-be funny man includes the joke, “If I burn your cat, will that turn you on?” Umm. No. And I’m not laughing. Andi Smith gives us a tour of her cheesy motel room, and her set gets her a pass to Tonight’s Showcase.
Another string of bombing out – this time with a costume theme. I hate to break it to them, but props, costumes, and wigs generally don’t help an unfunny joke become hilarious. Jezebelle, the Giant Puppet, appears and is quickly dismissed. A man shoves scissors up his nose, and then makes them wiggle, followed up by a Robin Williams impression. The impressionist is actually pretty good, but he’s just copying Robin’s jokes instead of being funny himself. He doesn’t make it. Keisha Hunt is a scrappy Houston native, and the guys take a chance on her. “You have presence, and style,” Neil tells her, but notes she needs to work on her material.
Bill Bellamy sets up a barbecue to feed the crowd, and Sheyla Almeida shows up next. She’s got two talents – and their underneath her bikini top. She can dance, but she can’t make the guys laugh. They watch her full act anyway before sending her out.
Bob Biggerstaff makes fun of his dad’s terminal illness – and it’s actually funny. He gets a pass. Ian Varella has an interesting act with a drawing board and a magic marker, but Neil rightly decides it’s not right for the show.
More bombs, and then The Other Brothers, a duo who juggle and do physical comedy. This time one is going to drink a beer without using his hands. They note that they are like “Penn and Teller, without the magic.” Penn and Teller with no magic is really just two guys being goofy, and they don’t make it to the showcase.
Mark Agee and Danny Rios round out the comics for the Showcase. Alfonso and Neil can only pass two onto Vegas, though, and they tell us what they are looking for. “I think it’s hard to fake confidence,” Neil says. “They’ve got to hit you with their best joke,” notes Alfonso.
The lineup for the showcase is Billy D. Washington, then Mark Agee with a very funny set about vegetarians. Paul Varghese has been doing comedy for 7 years, and hopes to finally have his big break. Andi Smith walks the line with a suicide joke, and Saleem Muhammed tries out fat jokes. He’s got to make it, he says. “It’s the one thing that’s going on in standup comedy right now.”
Danny Rios jokes about club owners wanting him to make Latino jokes, and Sarah Tollemache is funny enough, despite wearing a pin-striped shirt that’s very TV unfriendly. Every time she moves, she makes me dizzy! Chris Voth tells us his experience with sports, and he’s okay. Keisha Hunt does better, and Bob Biggerstaff provides the finale.
The judges choose Andi Smith and Bob Biggerstaff to move onto the finals in Vegas, and they’ll be traveling all over the country for the next episode, which will feature current comedy stars and Cheers! stars, too.
Photos courtesy NBC.