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Last Comic Standing 5, Episode 1: What Did the Orange Pirate’s Parrot Say to the Tightrope at the End of the Ear-Piercing?by Dale Sherman -- 06/14/2007
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Another summer has come around and the fifth season of Last Comic Standing has hit the airwaves. With the new season, we fell into the tried-and-true opening episode spotlighting several cities that had try-outs for the semi-finals in Hollywood, CA, but there were a few changes along the way as evident in the first few minutes of the show when we saw that the new host was Bill Bellamy (for more details on Bellamy and some other early tidbits about this season, check out our early preview of the show from February here). This was a good step, as Anthony Clark just didn’t work during the fourth season. With his nervous demeanor and pale, sweaty skin, he looked like a guy whose puppy just got kidnapped and he was forced to entertain a studio audience to get it back. Of course, in these try-out episodes you really don’t get much of a chance to see anything from the host anyway, but the producers tried to tie Bellamy into some of the activities outside the New York nightclub in the early part of the episode and showed him on stage doing a couple of jokes as well. So far, so good, and I doubt we’ll have any reason to worry about his performance later on like we all did for Clark.
The other big difference this time around was the loss of Ross Mark and Bob Read. Considering how unhappy and bored they looked in Season Four, it isn’t surprising. Instead, we now have Alonzo Bodden, Kathleen Madigan and ANT – all former contestants from season two of the series. Shame there in a way, as it would have been more interesting to see a comic from seasons one, two and four used as the judges instead of just one particular season. Okay, sure, ANT was there early on in Season One as well, but ANT is like Dr. Smith in Lost in Space; the credits always said he was a “special guest star” but you just knew he was going to turn up and cause a fuss no matter what was happening to the Robinson at the time. Oh, the pain. The pain.
As the first episode started, Bill Bellamy tells viewers that this season of LCS would find the program going “worldwide,” with try-outs in Canada, Australia and England. Actually the first season did go a little “worldwide” with a contestant from Japan, but that really doesn’t count. Bellamy also stated that the winner of this season’s contest would get a NBC Talent Contract (which has done wonders for earlier LCS winners like… um…yeah…), a Bravo special and $250,000. In all seriousness, a pretty good deal and better than those from the program’s past.
The program really kicks in as it whips over to the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, where the New York try-outs were held on March 21. After Bellamy talks to some of the comics waiting for hours in line in the below-freezing weather, the cameras cut to ANT, Alonzo, and Kathleen inside the club. Alonzo and Kathleen looked pretty much the same, but ANT appears to be channeling Davy Jones with his new hairpi – I mean, haircut.
While I’m dumping on ANT, let me state that rumors flying around the internet seemed to take a very hard stance on ANT during these try-outs for supposedly treating people very abruptly and coldly with sarcasm and heckling. If that really was the case, we certainly don’t see it on display here in the first episode. In fact, if anything, ANT comes off nicer than Ross and Bob did in any of the previous seasons. The worse we see at all is ANT cutting people off after they bomb, leading to one smart-aleck remark that we’ll discuss here in a little bit. Actually, all three judges do that at one point or another, with each one at some point saying that they didn’t feel a person was ready and the other two trying to persuade them to help move them on to the showcases being done later that night. Maybe we’ll see this DARK ANT being whispered about so much in the next episode, but at least this time around it just wasn’t there.
The first contestant shown is Danny Morsel who has a ventriloquist doll with him and does a bit about Combat Dancing. It’s an interesting set-piece, but that’s the problem – it’s a set-piece that doesn’t really carry over well to a three-minute time-limit in front of the judges. ANT gracefully tells Morsel that he isn’t quite what they are looking for on the program and thanks him for his time.
ANT is less courteous to the next contestant shown, who is Lori Chase. ANT cuts her off, telling her that he doesn’t want to hear anymore, for which Alonzo agrees, stating that he’s just not getting what she is doing. Kathleen, however, asks them to let her continue and finally persuades ANT to allow Lori to move on. She’s still very iffy, however.
Willy Sacco is next and his set leads into a long segment introduced by ANT about comics bombing in front of them. The flip-side comes next with Dwayne Kennedy, who easily wins over the three and is asked to come back later for the showcase. Michelle Buteau is shown next and is fairly interesting with her material about being half-Jamaican and half-Haitian (which, you know, would make you a full ‘Tian… what? Oh, okay, I’ll leave the jokes to the comics…). ANT doesn’t care for her, but the other two like her and ask her to come back that night.
After we see more puppets and dolls, as well as guys just using their hands for funny voices, the camera goes back to see Joe DeVito come out to talk about temping and other subjects. He is asked to come back. Jason Scarlitti isn’t, however, and the next montage is on crazy people who shouldn’t really be trying out. It ends with a guy doing a joke based on the names of the judges and calling Alonzo “Lorenzo.” That stops him dead in his tracks, although ANT literally falls out of his chair laughing. Five more comics are shown from the try-outs before moving on to the showcase that night, with Chris White, Any Schumer, Jane Condon and Arj Barker being asked to come back and one guy who messes up so badly that he throws himself out of the club, which at least got a laugh from the judges. Jane Condon almost didn’t make it, but the voting got around Alonzo to have her come back, while Arj Barker did the first joke that had me laughing out loud the entire night. That doesn’t sound promising for the group there.1 2 3 Next-->
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