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Last Comic Standing 5, Episode 14: Klaus Makes Top Five!by Dale Sherman -- 09/13/2007
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Before the “Final Three” episode aired on NBC Wednesday Night, the network repeated last week’s “Final Four” episode. I nearly passed it by, but happened to see that they were starting a countdown of the “Top 20 Best of the Worst” from the auditions over the years. Better yet, I thought for sure I saw a flash of our old friend Klaus in there. So of course I had to keep watching.
For those curious, here’s a run-down of the Top 20 that aired over the two hours of LCS programming on NBC. Only in rare cases where names given, and that was by chance:20. Guy rolling around and screaming all over the club.
19. Another guy rolling around, but at least with a punchline to go with it.
18. A woman lifting a chair up with her breasts. Or, rather, attempting to do such.
17. Guy in raincoat with head-mic telling a really bad joke.
16. Amy Schumer. Oh, I’m sorry; this Top 20 is for amusing bad comics. Instead it was the guy who sang bad jokes into a mini-camera so that his face would appear on a television set that sat on the body of a dummy.
15. A woman screaming.
14. The scary guy from last year that eyed the Tonight Show guys like he was going to take a swing at them at any second. They didn’t show that part, however.
13. Tim the Diary Farmer with a really, really bad pun. But a cute one, I’ll give him that. 12. Obscene Indian Guy that everyone seems to hate, YET they keep bringing him back for auditions every year.
11. Farmer lady that pulled a chick out of her pants earlier this year.
10. Keith Jockson, who wears a jockstrap over his face.
9. Bald guy smearing “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray all over his torso and head.
8. Guy putting pink nylons over his head and then blowing his line.
7. Man doing really mediocre snoring joke.
6. The Clown from Season One who absolutely killed! I loved this guy when I saw him the first time in a “best of the worst” montage during the finale of Season One and he still makes me laugh.
5. KLAUS! Now you know I make it a running-joke here in the articles about Klaus, but I’ll say it again because I mean it – this guy (Chris Keimling) was not only funny but he had a lot of guts to pull this character out again for the Tonight Show guys when he knew that he might have had a better chance if he had done his normal material. I’m glad they gave him some more airtime, and that he made a “Top Five” SOMEHOW, but I still say they should have given him a chance. Especially this year when he tried out again as himself instead of in-character (at least from what I understand).
4. Guy with ‘70s porno-hair and mustache does “comeback dance.” (That’s how the captioning had it, anyway.)
3. Guy with Guitar.
2. Dan McGowan doing “an old song” by hitting a rock with a stick. Kinda cute, really.
1. Guy incoherently babbling about coffee.
So what can we learn from all this? Well, best to not go in for the audition with a character. Most of the comics above did so and it seemed to be death for them the second they jumped on stage. Even more, make sure that the material you’re doing grabs the talent scouts by the throat from the start or else it’s just not going to work. Several of the above either went for an easy laugh or blatantly went for a “wacky is funny” style that looked rather lame in retrospect.
Coming into the second hour of LCS for the night and the beginning of the “Final Three” episode where one comic will be leaving and the two finalists will do one last competitive head-to-head for the final voting. Gerry Dee, Jon Reep and Lavell Crawford all stroll out only to be sent back off again by Bill once he introduces the show. After telling viewers that the special guest comics on the program that night will be Greg Proops (finally with his name spelled right in the captions), Kathleen Madigan and Gilbert Gottfried, Bill brings the trio of finalists back out.
For a change of pace, he has the three comics compete in a 90-second one-liners contest. Gerry and Jon spout out one-liners that Lavell then riffs on. Unfortunately, his riffing involves retelling the joke in the exact same manner, but then adding himself to the punchline in some manner. After the second time he does this, Gerry calls him out by asking him to start a knock-knock joke. Lavell, confused, begins and has no finish. He then tries to recover by doing a “one-liner” that is actually three or four lines. As the others point out, he doesn’t so much tell a one-liner, but a story. Points for Gerry for calling Lavell out; points for Jon on continuing with his one-liners even as Lavell and Gerry went at it; and no points for Lavell for trying to fake his way through it. Maybe he meant it as a joke in itself, but it didn’t come off that way. For some reason, however, he wins the trophy that a model comes out and starts to hand off to Bill. Bill points her to “the other black guy,” and Lavell walks off with the $14 gold-plated trophy.
Well, that was about five minutes of air-time.
After a commercial break, Bill is out in the audience as he talks to Gilbert Gottfried backstage via the video screen. Gilbert start off an interview with the three finalists by pointing that his interest in them is so small that he is only now learning their names by reading them off the tape on the floor that gives the comics their positions for the camera. Gottfried asks Lavell if he will make this a “white-black thing” if he loses. Crawford fires back that he has Al Sharpton on speed-dial for just such a situation. Okay, so points to Lavell for that comeback. They’re all even in my book at this point.
Kathleen Madigan, from Season Four and one of the talent scouts of this season, comes out to do a bit of her act. She talks about crystal-meth being Number One in St. Louis, immigration, and dumb jocks. She also tells the “Mexicans needed to build the wall” joke that landed Carlos Mencia in such hot water a while back. Ouch. Where’s Joe Rogan? Okay, it’s such an obvious gag that everyone has probably thought of it -- I’m not even going to get into who is right or wrong in the whole Rogan-Mencia debate (and if you hadn’t heard about it, just google their names together to see all that pops up about it) -- but with said debate being so well known in comedy circles now, you would think Madigan would have known to avoid it here.
After Madigan is done, the comics are brought back out and forced to wait until after another commercial break before they are told that Jon Reep will be the first comic to move on to the Final Two and will perform first. Jon looks relieved as they go back so that Greg Proops can come out for a small set. Y’know, the guy may be from Arizona, but his hair really says that he’s been in the UK too long. Anyway, he talks about Obama and Hillary and although it may not be material that will make Republicans happy, it’s pretty funny stuff. Then again, with the background Proops has in inprov, stand-up and television, he could probably do a good twenty minutes in a bombed-out crater with bullets whizzing past his head and still get laughs.
Proops is followed by Gilbert Gottfried, whose forehead is so large and shiny that it gives off the white-hot intensity of a dozen suns. No wonder he squints so much! Who couldn’t under that forehead? Gottfried talks about Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford, which just seemed odd. The material would have been very relevant if it was 2003, but what made him decide that these two should be the center of his set for the show? My guess would be that he didn’t want to blow off any new material on the program, just he just pulled some chestnuts out instead.
Lavell and Gerry are brought out and Bill tells them – after another commercial break – that Lavell will be the other comic performing and moving on to the Final Two. That was surprising, as I felt Lavell had a weak first week and fouled up a tad in the previous episode as well (not to mention also swearing a few times and fumbling for the punchline to a joke at one point). Gerry appears teary-eyed as he thanks everyone for their support
Finally, the two last comics on the program do their stand-up that will cement them their chances to get votes from viewers. Jon is first and centers his whole routine on his dad’s problems with drifting off to sleep on Sundays and during church. It is a rather cute set and works well for the time he has. Jon also looked comfortable and solid while performing.
Lavell is next and he talks about getting a bunch of food at a chicken place and being asked if he was going to eat it there, as well as problems with customer service. The food story works pretty well, but the customer service stuff is rather old-hat in some ways. Of the two, I preferred Jon’s set as a whole, but I have to say that Lavell made me laugh harder of the two with his comeback in the chicken story.
Who of the two will be named the Last Comic Standing? We’ll find out next week in the finale, where the votes will be in and the winner announced! Until then, remember to keep a little Klaus in your hearts!
Dale Sherman, a regular RNO contributor, is a writer of six music-related books that are available in bookstores and through Amazon.com. Dale also writes the weekly television recaps for WWE’s developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling, at their official website. For something more offbeat, you can also check out some of his writing at his new home site. Email Dale at email@example.com
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