'Last Comic Standing': Good comics, bad format

last-comic-standingImage Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCSomething really weird happened on Last Comic Standing last night. It was…funny. Like, actually, honest-to-goodness funny in some parts. (It helps if you fast-forward through the schlocky “bits” in between the stand-up sets, and don’t listen to too much of the “banter.” Oy.) The biggest relief was how few terrible acts there were; whatever schadenfreude there may be in watching lousy singers bomb their American Idol auditions, it’s just not the same for stand-up.

Too bad the structure of the show doesn’t seem to notice that stand-up is its own unique medium, though. The comics so far seemed solid, but man, the format of the show just sucks so much of the fun out. First there’s the awkward performance in front of three judges and no one else. Even gifted, established performers would flail in that kind of environment; such a big part of good stand-up is a rapport with the audience, a feel for the rhythms of a crowd. Performing in a deserted venue seems like it’s testing the wrong skills. (Though that’s often what Last Comic Standing seems to be testing.) Then the edited down “showcase” portion either doesn’t really show people’s best segments, or the judges have really unpredictable taste, and the show takes many other things into consideration. Perhaps all of these.

And yet there were a lot of funny performances last night. My early faves are Fortune Feimster, Lil Rel, Chip Pope, Shane Mauss, James Adomian, and Paula Bel, but I was sad to see Rob Delaney and Chris Fairbanks both get axed.

What about you, PopWatchers? Who made you laugh last night? And does the structure bug you as much as it bugs me?

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  • Chaddogg

    My one, SLIGHT issue with the show? Some of these people are RECOGNIZABLE actors, including one (Kirk Fox) who is currently a regular guest star on an NBC show (Parks and Recreations, where he plays the head of Sewers and Sanitation).

    Isn’t this supposed to be for amateurs? And shouldn’t there be some rule keeping people who regularly appear on NBC shows off as a conflict of interest? I mean, he’s funny no doubt, but come on….

    • The Dude

      This has been a complaint of mine in past seasons. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re an amature or not.

      The first season of the show is really the only season that had all unknowns in it, and while the wrong guy won I think most of the folks from the final 10 have had some minor success: Ralphie May has had at least one maybe two stand up specials on tv, Dave Mordall hosted a show on Discovery, etc.

      • Veronica Mosey

        Trust me. Watching amateur stand-up would be matches the concept of wanted to sleep with a virgin. Seems like an awesome idea and then you realize they dont have a clue as to what they are doing and you end up bored and wanting someone with more experience.

    • Keith

      Previous seasons have also been critizied for some of the contestants being employees or clients of the producers and for the producers putting in production assistants to be intentionally bad. They have also been critizied for for the judges opinions and votes not carring enough weight and the decisions are basically in the hands of the producers.

      As “reality TV” it is a complete sham….but thankfully it is funny enough that all that doesn’t really matter. I just sit back and laugh.

    • Summer

      Kathleen Madigan is another good example. Man is she funny, but she was already recognizable in the stand up world, so how can she get on Last Comic Stadning. I also like Brian Regan – maybe we can get him on there next year and have a “Comic-Off”.

    • MP

      I guess some of them are “so-called” professionals but I look at it the same way as SYTYCD. Few stand up comedians make much money, just like most dancers don’t make much money so I think it’s great that they have a chance for more exposure and a chance to win the $100k.

    • iheartpoco

      I would be surprised if many (or any) of the people who made the showcase had to wait with the motley crew of “hopefuls” in the line that stretched around the block. They should just say it’s a contest for professionals and semi-pros, and do away with the patently un-funny “man on the street” schtick.

      • Elle

        I know for a fact because I was one of the schmucks in line that the “professionals” did not wait in line. I never saw any of them. So, in that sense, it isn’t fair. Also, they stopped auditioning us inside after 5:00PM so we at the end of the line had to audition out in the rain on the side the road in front of a camera. So that sucked. Anyway, it’s BS but I figured that going in. I basically went for screen time which I got. Oh, and I’m an improv comic so they wouldn’t have liked my set. Craig was cool though. I don’t think he’s on it. But the judges seem to be. Just my opinion.

  • Matt

    You’re right. I was surprised at how funny it was, too. The off-color joke about the 99 cent store Rice Krispies had me laughing out loud.

    • ShannonW

      I thought his bit about having a financially feasible girlfriend (based on where she lives) was funnier. I think he had the best writing last night.

  • Tricia

    I laughed, constantly. :-)

  • Lee

    While I did like some of the comics, I turned off the show after 20 minutes as the female judge’s annoying laugh drove me crazy.

    • Robert

      I used to really like this show. The female judge’s laugh was so forced and phony and annoying that I refuse to watch. They should mute her mic.

    • KC

      God Natasha’s braying ruined the show. She’s annoying and not funny either. Or should I say…Nancy…

    • SCG

      Amen, the female judge’s laugh absolutely ruins the show – i wont watch anymore due to her annoying sound… please fire the female judge…

  • devils sidekick

    what was with that stupid opening bit with the host?? i dont care about who he is or whats he on at the moment, hes not a stand up so he should SHUT UP. and who the **** is that female judge I almost turned it off because of her.

    • VCI

      You are so wrong about the host Craig Robinson. He is a stand-up comedian. I just saw him over the weekend and his show ran an hour long because the crowd couldn’t get enough of him and his piano bits are hilarious, i was psyched he bought it out for the intro.


  • George

    I thought the one comic who did the bit about how she heard that Eva Braun and Hitler had a great relationship, was hilarious. I laughed throughout the whole bit. I couldn’t believe the judges didn’t select her for the finals. What were they thinking ??????

    • Summer

      I thought she deserved to be put through too. She was a little dry, but that worked well for her schtick.

    • ShannonW

      Yeah, her jokes were awesome, but she needed a little more spark

    • ShannonM

      She was the funniest one on the show IMO. Have NO idea why they didn’t put her through, but it reminded me of past seasons and how folks have complained that sometimes producers overrode the judges’ decisions.

    • Iona

      Was she the one with the joke about “the closest I get to a facial is draining macaroni?” Because that is a very funny joke.

  • josh

    The Edith Piaf bit killed me

  • Z

    That female judge is named Natasha Leggero, and she’s actually quite funny. I was a fan of Claire Ladman, I was disappointed she didn’t make it.

  • Zackster

    How did that hack Guy Torry make it through so far? He’s not funny at all and he was given a pass.

    I still remember the first season of LCS with fond memories. The show was so funny that year. You’d think NBC would try to replicate it instead of messing with the format every summer since. Sigh…

    • ShannonW

      I would have easily picked someone else who deserved it over him. And those other people were the “professionals” that I have seen before. I think the judges kept putting him through from what they have seen before from him. But my thing is that if he’s not delivering now, like others, he doesn’t deserve to go through.

    • Christina

      It helps that he was in American History X with Edward Norton, I am sure his agent has got enough pull to get him into the semi-finals at least.

  • Guy Incognito

    I liked how that Tim Babb guy just stared blankly as one of the judges told him he should wear a squirting flower. That dude is a genius!

  • Felicia

    I remember Laurie Kilmartin from “Best Week Ever.” She was funny. But yeah, Natasha’s laugh had me BUGGING.

  • Dan

    “He’s dead, but I seen worse’ from Princess Bride “So long, and thanks for all the fish” from Hitchhiker Guide

  • jared4ever

    The female judge makes me want to drive a stake through my skull with that AWFUL laugh she has! Talk about the most annoying person ever or what?

  • pancakes

    I didn’t think the show was very funny at all. And while the judges might be good comedians, they are pretty awful as judges. Andy K talked way too much. Greg G didn’t talk enough. Their choices are suspicious. Too many good people didn’t get through and too many unfunny ones did. It still doesn’t seem like the show is on the up and up.

  • photoartist1@me.com

    Wait until week three and you see rev.bill & betty!

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