Before we get to Wednesday’s heckle-rific Last Comic Standing, I need to heckle the show’s producers and NBC a little bit.
Back when the show was about to premiere, executive producer Peter Engel told us that viewers would get to vote on their favorites earlier than in past seasons, combining the studio-audience vote with the tally from those of us on our couches.
Yet we get to this week’s show, and — no home vote. What gives?
Although, to be fair, it’s hard to believe there would have been a different result, because one of the three comics in the head-to-head was far and away the best of the evening. And now, the spoilers.
The 10 finalists (chauffeured by none other than Mel Silverback) face the heckle challenge first, pairing off in front of a live audience to try to throw each other off their respective games. Amy Schumer pretty much pwns Matt Kirshen, as does Ralph Harris with Gina Yashere. Jon Reep — if he looks familiar, he’s the Hemi dude from the Dodge ads — and Gerry Dee have some good back-and-forth, and Lavell Crawford easily takes down Debra DiGiovanni, who’s a little too nice in her heckling.
The most interesting duel, though, is between Dante and Doug Benson, who appear to harbor some genuine dislike. When he’s on stage, Dante shows that he knows how to keep a heckler quiet, but when Benson gets up there, he not only shouts all over Dante’s attempts at heckling but also takes a couple pointed swipes at the jokes Dante had just performed.
I have to say I’m with Benson, however, in calling out Dante for constantly reminding us about his 4-year-old daughter. It comes across as a pretty naked attempt to curry sympathy from the audience, and it wears thin fairly quick.
The live audience at Pasadena’s Ice House picks Crawford as the challenge winner, which gives him immunity in the head-to-head. That’s nice, but the other prize — a prime gig at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal — is even nicer.
We get a quick reminder on the rules for the head-to-head showcases: The person with the most votes from the other comics has to perform, along with two of the people who challenge him. Only one gets to stay after the audience — that’d be the folks in the theater, not us — votes.
Voting in the utterly ridiculous setting of an empty L.A. Coliseum, Crawford, Harris and Yashere all pick Dante. Since Crawford has immunity it’ll be Harris and Yashere facing off against the proud papa to stay alive.
Neither Yashere nor Dante have great sets, with Yashere riffing on the woman who got a face transplant — way to stay current — and Dante doing a couple minutes on — surprise — his daughter. All you need to know about the latter is that his closing line is "Bill Bellamy is black daddy."
That leaves the spot pretty much wide open for Harris, who breezes right through with an energetic and decently amusing bit about his hyperactive childhood, his lazy Uncle Earl and the time Earl let a Jehovah’s Witness in the house. I can’t do justice to the mile-a-minute style Harris used, but suffice to say that the other two performers were not in his league.
The audience thinks so too — Harris moves on with 62 percent of the vote, and Dante and Yashere are headed home. That’s how I would have voted, and I suspect a lot of other people would have too.
Happy with the results, or bummed you don’t have a say yet?