Well, friends… here we are. Another season of Last Comic Standing, with a brand new host, (Anthony Jeselnik), a brand new judge, (Norm Macdonald), and a brand new Roseanne (she’s blonde now!) I saw JB Smoove on a commercial for Rent.com recently, so hopefully he left by choice and not forced out by a heartless NBC executive. We’re thinking about you, JB.
As per usual, the winner of the show will be winning $250,000, a development deal, and the amazing title of Last Comic Standing. Tonight is the first of four Invitational shows, which means that jokes will be flying quickly.
Anthony takes the stage and introduces Keenen Ivory Wayans, Roseanne, and Norm. Immediately after, we’re introduced to Ryan Conner. He’s one of eleven brothers (what?) and the amount of people in the house is illustrated further with a giant party sub. They have to fight for food in the Conner household, which means that Ryan needs this development deal more than ever.
“So I have a huge multiracial family,” Ryan starts out. He’s right in the middle age-wise. “Picture a college brochure,” he claims. “One time a guy told me a racist joke and I thought he was asking me an earnest question.” The judges love this guy! He jokes about how he only gained white friends in college, and thought that skin ashiness was a problem everyone faced. Once, he paused a game of Madden to rub cocoa butter on his elbows.
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Keenen had to explain to Norm what ashiness was, and thought his set was pretty darn accurate. “Post modern comic!” Roseanne hollars to the world. According to Norm, it was the best three and a half minutes of comedy he’s seen in years. That’s got to be daunting for the next comedian.
Speaking of which, our next comic is Taylor Tomlinson, and she’s the only working church comic she knows. “Stand up is a way to control when people are laughing at me,” she admits. She loves laughter in church, and also loves the fact that the churchgoers seem to treat her well. But is she funny? Let’s find out.
“I just finished college,” Taylor starts. “Dropped out, feels good. It’s okay, it was community college. So it’s like I gave up on quitting.” Not only is she the least successful of her friends, but she claims she’s the least attractive. “I’m like a solid five with a great personality. That means I can go for other fives and sixes, and maybe an insecure seven if I’m feeling pretty.” For a church comic, Taylor is a bit rough around the edges, and I dig that.
Keenen thinks she’s a ten in the stand-up world, and was super impressed with her writing. Norm thinks she’s excellent for only being 21 years old. “I guess I’m trying to say I love you,” he awkwardly mumbles. Roseanne is also impressed by her likable personality, but doesn’t openly drop L-bombs the way Norm seems to. I have a feeling that Norm is going to provide some horrendously awkward moments this season.
Our next comic is a funny Iranian named Mehran Khaghani, who hosts burlesque shows. Also, he wears eyeshadow way, way better than I do. When he hits the stage, he simply sparkles.
He claims he’s best known for “Iranian homo sets” and tells a story about how he had to tell a club owner that his passport photo wasn’t actually butch — he’s typically in the airport wearing a half shirt, which helps prove he’s not a threat.
Roseanne is a fan of both his sparkly jacket, and his set. “I never saw nothing like you. You’re like one of a kind” she gushes. Keenen likes the fact that the set told his story, and Norm thinks it’s “impossible not to love” him. Again with the L-word! Norm, such a romantic.
Backstage, we have a lot of nervous comics, included Nick Allen. Is this? I do believe it is! Comedy montage time, you guys.
Our First Montage
Nick’s set includes how his daughter lost a tooth on a Wednesday, yet the tooth fairy gets paid on Fridays. As expected, Norm loves him. Kyle Grooms talks about how he used to be a graffiti artist, which was cool until he bought property. Chris Fairbanks ribs on breakfast in bed, Julie Scoggins talks about her messy house, and K-Von (come on man, we know your actual name is Kevin) discusses breaking out his accent at the club. “My regular voice, let’s face it, kind of boring” he admits, comparing it to the voice of Owen Wilson.
DC Ervin is up next, and starts out with a joke about toning down his blackness. “Let me explain. If I go to the ATM machine at night, and it’s a white lady getting money out of her account, I won’t get out of my car until she finishes doing what she got to do.” When he leaves his car, he makes sure his bank card is completely visible. Even though he’s black, he admits that he’s also intimidated by big black guys at night near ATM machines.
“If you wanna feel good about your life, you talk to someone in the penitentiary. It’s so easy to impress them,” he says, in regards to his inmate cousin.
Keenen and Roseanne think he’s funny and likable, and Norm garbles on a lot about social commentary before admitting he also thought DC was pretty fantastic.
The Yard Sale Kid
Moses Storm is up next, and his story? He grew up in a bus, with a single Mom and four other siblings. They all thrive with yard sales, and seem super quirky. Moses makes a comparison between yard sales and stand up, which is confusing. (Selling a joke?)
He mentions the one-handed “Mom seatbelt”, in which a Mom tries to save her child in the car with a “chicken arm.” “I think you can tell how bad your friends alcoholism has gotten by seeing how much they rave about Uber,” he continues. “I live in the city, there’s no parking… Stop saying there’s street parking. There’s a space for your car, and a pole with about eight signs on it that say ‘Never park here ever, idiot.'” Okay, I admit — I kind of thought this guy would bomb, but he’s pretty funny.
Roseanne relates to the drunk Uber joke, since she’s also a drunk who uses Uber. “It was phenomenal,” she says. Keenen had the same reservations I did in the beginning, but admits that he did well.
Next is Ian Bagg, who starts out by stating he’s Catholic. “But I don’t have to go to church anymore, because Grandma died. She took one for the team.” His Dad loves his wife more than he loves Ian, and wears both a belt and suspenders at the same time, which seems baffling. “The weird part is that his fly is down the whole time,” he jokes. Next, he tackles allergies, poking fun at gluten free folk.
Anthony points out that Norm and Ian are both Canadian, and Norm seems to know him personally. (Do all Canadians know each other? Explain yourself, Norm!) Roseanne digs his writing and rhythm, and Keenen — wait, before Keenen can talk, Norm interrupts again to express his love for Ian. “That was certainly worth it, Norm” Anthony ribs. Anyway, Keenen likes him too.
The Second Montage
And now it’s time for another comic round-up. Caleb Synan jokes about his Dad and how he has no idea how phones work. Rob Haze makes a gluten joke (I guess that’s big this year?) and Kendra Cunningham jokes about pedicures. Mike Lebovitz, who has amazing sideburns, discusses bank fees. “I love you on top of pizza boxes,” Anthony jokes about his Mike’s Italian features. I can’t believe this joke actually made the commercial promo for the episode, since it was kind of weak.
Sigh. Once again, I’ll state it. We miss you, JB.
Onto the Longer Sets!
Our next comic is from Plainfield, Illinois – it’s Ms. Pat! She grew up in the inner city, and had two kids by the time she was fifteen. She was able to bring her underage daughter to her shows based on the fact that her daughter was top-heavy, and found out she was funny from a case worker.
Ms. Pat starts out with a Lane Bryant joke. “Who told Lane Bryant that fat girls like wildlife prints on their clothes?” She jokes that mall security tried to tranquilize her based on her unfortunate clothing. She then tells a story about how she was shot at when she was fifteen, and ran through a fence instead of hopping over it.
“I think every set, you should tell another getting shot story” Norm says, which Ms. Pat (rightfully) questions — how many times should she get shot at for comedy? Come on, Norm! (I kind of love Ms. Pat, so fingers crossed that she makes the next round.)
While our comics are backstage, the judges are pondering over paperwork and comparing notes. Since none of these comics were downright terrible, it’ll be a tough call to see who makes it through.
And the Judges Vote
Taylor Tomlinson, Ian Bagg, Ryan Conner, Ms. Pat (hooray!) Mehran Khaghani, Moses Storm, DC Ervin, and K-Von all get called for the semifinals. So, pretty much all of the comics who got full sets.
The Second Day
Ambrose Jones starts up “Day Two”, and discusses the legacy behind his name. “I’ve been staying in Memphis for the last fifteen years. I got a nine year old son there. His mom and I separated. That was probably my fault, since I grew up with step-daddies and wanted him to experience that also,” he jokes. Then, he discusses his need for a new car. “I’m 32, my credit score is 28!”
Roseanne loved his build-up, as well as his edge. Norm rambles again, and Keenen calls him a “breath of fresh air.”
Esther Povitsky’s first joke about her name — it’s just hard to feel sexy with that name! She jokes about her new gym. “Everyone at the gym I joined is really fat, and I’m like.. did they just join this gym too, or does this gym just not work? Maybe I joined a broken gym.” Esther’s Dad just turned 70, which means she’s closer to her inheritance. “I’m from Illinois, all I’m getting is a reverse mortgage and funeral costs,” she laments.
Keenen admits that her humor is girly yet edgy — but perhaps not edgy enough. Norm disagrees. “I thought it was wonderful that she was not edgy. I loved every joke,” he claims. “She hits middle America beautifully.” “Thanks, I think!” Esther responds. Roseanne believes she’s absolutely TV-worthy.
Next is Sam Morril, who “just ran into his biological father on the street.” When asked if his biological father was a good person, he said that if he was, he probably “wouldn’t refer to him as my biological father.” His set turns to dinosaurs, thinking that kids should be quizzed on things that actually matter. He had a hoarder ex, who broke up with him. “I’m like, the one thing she can get rid of,” he quips.
Norm is pretty much gaga over Sam’s voice, openly stating that he can’t wait to see him in the next round. Roseanne liked the biological father stuff, but Keenen wasn’t completely sold.
Our next comic is Chrystian Ramirez, from Brooklyn. His Dad left when he was eight, so he pretty much copied everything that his Mom and sister did. “I thought everybody wore towels from the chest down,” he admits.
His family moved to Staten Island, which he thinks should be renamed as “Euugh”, especially since his main source of transportation was a boat. He also mentions the nighttime clown killer, and how such criminals made him have to end engagements early with his friends — again, he had to take a boat home.
Keenen loved the towel joke, but tells him that his set-ups are a bit too wordy. Roseanne finds him to be clever, and Norm (once again) gets wordy until Roseanne pretty much forces him to get to the point. “I thought it was perfect,” he states.
Kevin Bozeman is up next, and talks about his Las Vegas trip. He’s quickly followed by Mark Shumacher, who laments about a bad Photoshop job. Kasaun Wilson jokes about his made-up black name, and Rhea Butcher also jokes about her name because “it’s funny but it’s true”, and then discusses her hillbilly background.
Our next comic is an Oakland/Portland girl named Amy Miller, who jokes about her ethic makeup. “I’m white trash,” she says with a straight face. She explains that being white trash includes having an uncle who owns a crow, and owning a place with an abnormal amount of dogs. “It’s probably because you’re full of crap,” was her Dad’s answer when she asked her why there were so many bugs in the house.
Keenen found her jokes to be mega-fierce and fearless, and Norm loved the “full of crap” joke. “But together, it was a mess” he claimed. Then, he said something weirdly racist, which Keenen (thankfully) saved. Seriously, you guys. I love Norm and I love SNL, but his shaky-hands commentary makes me fear this season a little bit.
Bryan Kellen takes the stage next, and mocks his weird-looking nose. It’s goofy, especially from the side. “It’s why I never took drugs,” he claims. “Nobody would share their stash with someone who has a vacuum attachment like this.” He also namedrops Snuffaluffagus, which make me love him and his giant schnoz immediately. I have a weakness for Muppets.
He also mentions how he can’t dance, and how someone should never ask their friends for dancing tips. “I look like Shaggy running from a ghost,” he states. What follows? Pretty amazing physical comedy. This dude isn’t fearful of movement.
Roseanne “just loved it!” and wanted to see more spastic movement. Keenen makes a weird comment about sex, and Norm thinks deep and claims that his physical comedy got the best response from the audience.
It’s Time To Vote (Again)
Once again, our lovable hosts are thinking — who’ll make it through the next round?
And, the votes are in! Ambrose Jones is in! Esther Pavinsky also made it, along with Chrystian Ramirez, Bryan Kellen, Kevin Bozeman, and Amy Miller.
Next Week: The Invitationals continue! Wooo! Last Comic Standing airs Wednesdays at 9pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)