It's rare for a television show to get a brand new season after four years off the air, but Last Comic Standing proved that it could be done. The show returned tonight with brand new judges (Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters) and a brand new host (JB Smoove). This season, auditions were given by invite only, so hopefully that means we'll have some quality contestants - right?
The show starts out with 100 fresh comedians, with hopes of narrowing it down to a solid 20. Out of those 20, one will win a boatload of cash, as well as an NBC development deal. Not too shabby.
As JB enters the room, he promises that the show will be bigger and better than ever (and hopefully not cancelled, like before. My words, not his.) As he introduces the three hosts, Keenan Ivory Wayans states that he's looking for a personal talent that'll connect with the audience. Russell Peters is on the lookout for someone who'll own the room, and the legendary Roseanne - who looks amazing these days - thinks that the winner needs to have the desire to truly connect with the audience.
Dave Landau is the first act on stage, and riffs on Chuck-E-Cheese and parenthood. "I was standing there playing skeeball, trying to win enough tickets to get a vasectomy," he claims. All jokes aside, he said he's ready to be a father - despite the fact that he had a drinking problem, and currently has a breathalyzer in his car.
Roseanne loves him and his dark, cynical humor. He's also praised by Russell and Keenen, who compliment him on being edgy and dark. As the first act, he raises the bar pretty high.
Next up is Tracey Ashley from Indiana, who received advice about stand-up from the legendary Louis C.K. Based on her short introduction video, she seems a little crazy - as in, "I bring my own air mattress to the hotel room and cover everything in plastic" crazy. She's big on the college circuit, which means her air mattress is quite the traveler.
Tracey states that she's been married for five years, to a white History and Geography teacher. Her mother-in-law is fond of buying her lingerie (in hopes of a grand-baby), which she feels uncomfortable wearing. Wouldn't you?
"Could you imagine Oprah Winfrey in the Underground Railroad?" Tracey asks. "Look under your chaiiirs! Freeeedom!" Perfect way to end her set.
The judges make note of her 15-years of experience, and say that they admire how comfortable and elegant she was on stage. I agree - she definitely had a strong presence.
Guy Branum is on next. As a child, he was big on dresses. He reminds me of a bald version of Cam from Modern Family, which is the biggest compliment I could ever give another human being.
"My current working theory is that once my parents realized I was going to be gay, they figured they might as well raise the largest one in the county," Guy says. After a good reaction, he launches right into a reality TV rant. Or, more-so, a rant about people who rant about reality TV.
Guy even cracks jokes with the judges while being judged, asking Keenen out to dinner after Keenen stated that he wanted to know more about him. He's definitely my favorite thus far.
Now it's time for the "comedian montage," which is common for every competitive reality show that features nine billion acts. I hate to say that there's a good chance that those who fall into the montage during editing probably won't make it far. Prove me wrong, show! David Waite gives a joke about day-drinking, Phoebe Robinson talks about interracial dating ("the point is to make hot Lisa Bonet babies"), Rob Christensen rants on a stereotypical DJ act, and Mark Normand discusses his past day job as a janitor with a college degree.
Check out more of Mark Normand's invitationals set:
More Dave Waite jokes:
We're now introduced to Rod Man. He chats about all of his membership cards that take up space on his keychain. "They tell me I'm getting a reward, but I don't get anything at all. I get a long receipt." Preach it, Rod Man. I hate those long receipts. Roseanne feels passionate against his next rant, about buying your own grocery store bags.
"They trick you to be an employee and get on the clock," he says about the Self-Check Line. "The lady tricked me, and was like. There's no waiting over here, sir. Then she walked the hell away."
Sure, all of these comedians are great, but these hosts seem to love all of them. Out of the three, I can't see anyone emerging as "the mean judge."
Highlights from Rod Man's performance:
Lynne Koplitz is up next, and her introduction video tells us that she's had deals with a billion networks, and nothing has ever panned out. Also, she's friends with Joan Rivers? "Of course you should go on Last Comic Standing!" Joan praises. "Your career is in the toilet!"
Lynne starts out with a man rant. She interacts with a pretty boy in the audience, who is only 21. "I hate the older men since they have ideas, and thoughts, and it's annoying," she claims.
And that's about it. Keenen claims that she was trying too hard to be Joan, which is - well - true. However, she's funny and bold. Russell digs her self-deprecating style.
Dave Stone from Los Angeles is up next, and he lives in a van. A 2006 cargo van, to be exact. I thought this show was supposed to be funny, and not cripplingly sad? He shows off his van dents, from when he ran into an oak tree. Then they show him showering at his gym. And then they show him on a sad, scripted date. And then they show him on stage.
"Anyone ever call in sick from work, since they ate too much for breakfast?" Nah. He went to vocational college, which doesn't have too much rivalry like the "good schools" he's a bit jealous of. He ends his set with stating "These jokes aren't that good, thank you very much!" Regardless, Roseanne likes him.
Erik Rivera is up next, and talks about how he inherited white parents from his wife. Parents who gift him guacamole. Wait a minute - this is the start of another montage! Andi Smith's clip is next, where she rants about girls getting boob jobs as a graduation gift: "Shouldn't that be what you get when you don't graduate?" Tim Northern accidentally ingested rat poison, and figured he was "rat poison intolerant". Aida Rodriguez loves her 17-year-old daughter, but doesn't like her that much. I'm sure her daughter feels really special watching her Mom back at home right now, after telling all of her friends to tune in. Aida actually opened for Russell before, which is interesting. If she makes the final 20, I might think connections are involved.
See more of Tim Northern:
Joe Machi takes the stage. His style is intentionally awkward. "I hate racism. That is why I think there's only one good use for the 'N word'. That is for my bank password. Because I would never blurt that out to anyone," he nervously stammers. "Even if I were being robbed by a black man. And he were to say 'Dude, give me your password.' I would be like, 'I can't. I would turn this robbery into a homicide.'"
Joe's helium-voice isn't a character - it's who he really is.
After Joe, the judges have a time to pow-wow. And it looks like the definition of pow-wow is "get slightly closer to each other, and open up a blue notebook."
Round One Results
The comics who'll advance to the next level are soon announced. First up? Tracey "Air Mattress" Ashley. Mark "I'm Eating A Plate of Food As My Name Is Announced" Normand. Dave "Skeeball" Landau, who felt like a "unicorn on ecstasy" as his name was announced. Aida Rodriguez (Note: connections!), Joe Machi, and Rod Man. So - six from the first group!
Night two is next. Are you ready?
Erin Jackson starts first, and discusses texts with her Mom. "What does BTW stand for?" her Mom asks. "By The Way," Erin answers. "What did you think it meant?" "Booker T. Washington." Erin's Mom is adorable. In 2014, that was her first guess.
Erin goes on to discuss online dating, where she met the worst man she's ever met in her life. They went to dinner, and he ignored the check. "I don't want to break this last 20. You know how it is, boo," he said, prior to peeing in an alley after dinner. Solid material.
Roseanne likes how she commands her space, and was quite impressed. Russell found her to be poised and calm, which proved that she believed in her jokes.
Jimmy Shubert is next, who has been in the industry for about 25 years. He's big into magic, and met Robin Williams once. And Pauly Shore numerous times. "Jimmy has the talent, he just needs the opportunity," Pauly says. Get back to your Bio-Dome, dude.
Jimmy discusses a protein scramble he got at a diner. "You don't take the eggs out of a chicken, and then cook the chicken, and put it in the eggs!" he states. "Who is working the grill, the barnyard strangler?" He doesn't trust vegetables, since they get their nutrients from the dirt - and you'd never think of eating dirt.
Russell has been a fan of Jimmy for awhile, and Roseanne and Keenen agree that it was a good set.
Watch the clip of Jimmy Shubert:
Lachlan Patterson from Vancouver is next. He moved to L.A. to pursue comedy, which really upset his Dad. He walks dogs to pay for rent, based on the fact that stand-up can be an unstable career. "I love dogs, but I want my Dad to be proud of me," he says.
"I'm not gay, but according to the people I'm close to, I'm very gay looking" Lachlan opens with. "I can never eat an ice cream cone the way I want to."
His favorite food is "buffet," solely because there's no waiters to bother him and try to intercept. "You don't have enough paper to write down what I want to put on this plate!"
Roseanne felt that Lachlan's joke construction was great, and believes he's "in it." I have to say, I agree. Russell also thinks his set was very well crafted, and Keenen - who told Lachlan he looked like "a store mannequin" - loved the direction in which he took his material. I feel like this guy is totally in.
Gloria Bigelow is next, with a joke about her friend Becky and her Tupperware container. Yes, my friends. It's another comedy montage. Patrick Susmilch is next, discussing prescription-only catheters. Shakir Standley gets a bunch of laughs from Roseanne, after a set regarding churros. Mike Vecchione, who claims he looks like "a nice cop", talks about how he was pulled over for a possible DUI after poor direction from his British-sounding GPS.
See more of Shakir Standley:
More of Mike Vecchione's routine:
And Gloria Bigelow:
JB introduces Jasper Redd next, who greets the audience by telling them he likes to drink, and went out with his buddy Randy to get "socially lubricated". He refuses to drink 1800 tequila, since it was a bad time for black folk. 1992 tequila, however, would be a different story. "I got into an argument with my uncle who's from the South, and the reason he was upset with me, was since I never saw Roots... Roots is like Star Wars for black folks. It's a rite of passage."
Ben Kronberg is up next, and he has a pretty fantastic beard. He starts his set by reading from a tiny notebook for... a long time. "What?" he says. "Like when you guys start working right when you get to your jobs?"
"Do you think when twins are born they say jinx?" he says, when he finally started. His second joke was about his grandfathers with Alzheimer's, who now has a memory foam pillow. Ugh. I like this guy, but the judges didn't seem too impressed.
After Roseanne said that he wasted a lot of time, Ben said that he "wished she started [her critique] with a compliment." And then Roseanne went into rage-mode.
Ben asks the audience if they feel okay with Roseanne speaking for them, which lead Roseanne to curse him out. A lot of boo-ing followed. Yikes. Sorry, Ben.
Dana Eagle is next, from East Brunswick, NJ. Which is super close to my hometown, so hopefully I won't be biased. "I like girls, but I have to find someone to marry now, because I just got my first piece of turquoise jewelry," she said. "I feel calmer now, since my meds just hit. Bipolar, party of two!"
Eh. Average set from my perspective, but the judges seem to like it.
Backstage, a lanky dude with a guitar explains how nervous he is. Uh oh. You probably predicted it as well. His name is Pat Regan, and he's the start of the next montage of losers. Bob Kubota is next, and talks about being Asian American. Now? Chase Bernstein, who discusses the Holocaust Museum. Michael Somerville goes on about not being able to change the flat tire on his girlfriend's car. Tyree Elaine talks about crazy white people. But in a good way.
See more of Bob Kubota's routine:
Pat Regan's song routine:
Finally - the last comic of the night! Nick Guerra. Will they save the best for last?
Nick - who looks like a young, feminine Andrew W.K., ÂÂÂavoids bars and dance clubs. He discusses groups of girls at the club who try to gain free alcohol from innocent men. "What day is it? Martin Luther King Day? He had a dream, I had a drink. Twerk, twerk, twerk!" He also mentions that every girl under 5'3" is the biggest smack-talker of the group.
Keenen has "no critique", but mentions his fun perspective of a Saturday night. Roseanne wants to hear more, and Russell comments that his last name means "war" in Spanish. I guess that's a good critique?
Now it's time for the blue notebook deliberation. Who will make it to round two?
Round Two Results
The first comic moving on is Dana Eagle. Next? Nick "Party Hard" Guerra. Erin Jackson is next - obviously because she absolutely rocked it tonight. Mike "Cop Guy" Vecchione (yes, from the montage!) is next, followed by Jasper Redd. Lachlan Patterson is called next, and he's elated by the positive criticism. Tyree Elaine is called next. Yep - another montage contestant. One more left, according to JB!
It's Jimmy Shubert! Kind of a surprise, to be honest. Will he talk about breakfast food next week as well? Hopefully it's breakfast burritos.
Next week: Roseanne accuses a contestant of smoking pot, and the contestants fight for a spot in the next round.