The live audience, the judges or whoever was deciding the outcome of Wednesday’s Last Comic Standing semifinals and I do not share an opinion as to what’s funny. Only one of the comics I thought was strongest made it through, and while no one completely died on stage, the first group of finalists isn’t exactly inspiring.
Before we start in on that, though, a note from last week: You may or may not have noticed that at the London auditions, a woman named Ava Vidal was given a pass to the semis after doing a bit on Madonna’s adoption of a child from Africa. When the semifinalists were announced, however, she was not among them. NBC says her visa paperwork didn’t go through in time, and she was therefore unable to come to Los Angeles to continue the show. (Five people from the final audition show in Tempe, instead of the four the show would have otherwise needed, made it through.)
Our guest judge for tonight is star of stage and screen Tom Arnold, who as far as we viewers can tell, said not one word during the entire show. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.
All right then — onto the first crop of semifinalists:
John Caparulo didn’t wow me in his audition show, and his bit about the guilt now associated with fast food didn’t wow me this time.
I found myself laughing at Debra DiGiovanni almost in spite of myself, just as I did the first time I saw her. I’m still not sure, though, if I could take more than a couple minutes of her material, which is all we saw tonight.
Tommy Johnagin, whose name makes me think of the second coming of a very good pitcher, scores with jokes about coming in third in a fight and his dad’s gun collection. The early leader, in my book.
Single-named Dante’s daughter wants a puppy. Aww. Then dad should do something other than hacky impressions of Jack Nicholson, Christopher Lloyd, Gilbert Gottfried and Robert De Niro as Wizard of Oz characters. And what, he couldn’t pull out William Shatner or Christopher Walken as the Cowardly Lion?
Joe DeVito is living like it’s his last day — on a respirator. ("Overrated," he says.) That’s pretty good, but recycling the first kiss/pepper spray joke from his audition is not.
Gina Yashere is another of my favorites. Really enjoyed her riff on how her Nigerian mother disabused her of her belief in Santa Claus.
Aussie Lawrence Mooney does some uninspired men-vs.-women material, then loses me completely with a joke about how his girlfriend’s bum looks in pantyhose.
Unfortunately for Sarah Colonna, she has a joke about child-proofing her apartment that’s similar to one host Bill Bellamy told to open the show. Fortunately for Sarah Colonna, hers is better.
Veteran Dwayne Kennedy opens with "How ’bout a round of applause — for anything." Nice. A piece on the what-ifs of Mexican slavery feels a little disjointed, though.
Spencer Brown comes all the way from England to do a banana-peel joke. That’s not the way to make a first impression in America.
Tracey Ashley starts off slowly by telling us why she moved to Minnesota, but she sells her closer about the dangers of hippopotami with some nice physical work.
Ralph Harris also does an impression, but it’s of his 100-year-old grandfather. It’s goofy and fairly charming.
You know what Sabrina Matthews hates about lesbian stereotypes? "They all apply to me." She also owns two velour shirts, "which is like methadone for flannel." Ladies and germs, we have a new leader.
Someone should tell Adam Vincent that when he has a microphone, he doesn’t have to shout at the audience.
Lori Chase is better than I remember her being at the New York auditions, but her bit about her Broadway-loving ex goes on too long.
Finally, Doug Benson closes the show with some OK material about his misadventures in Disneyland.
If I’m picking the five finalists, I go with Yashere, Johnagin, Colonna, Matthews and maybe Kennedy, though that last choice is mostly based on what I’ve seen him do in the past.
Hey, one out of five isn’t so bad: Yashere is indeed a finalist. Dante somehow wins the audience choice award — I guess people love them some Jack Nicholson impersonation. Your other finalists are DiGiovanni, Harris and Benson, none of whom I have a big problem with. Here’s hoping all five have saved their A-games for future episodes.
What did you think of Wednesday’s Last Comic Standing? Impressed with the first group of finalists?