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Last Comic Standing, Episode 3: Where’s Eddie?by Dale Sherman & Mike DeGeorge -- 06/18/2003
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Good news for NBC came with the first episode of Last Comic Standing on June 10 – the show helped NBC win the ratings war for the night, with a 6.2 in the first hour and 6.7 in the second. It also won big in the hotly contested 18-49 age-group, with a 4.0.
While the ratings have been good, there has been some rumbling by viewers about the show, or rather the people showcased in the program. Several people wrote in to say that they recognized Rich Vos from Colin Quinn’s Tough Crowd program on Comedy Central. Meanwhile, Ralphie May was an associate producer on Jay Mohr’s Mohr Sports program. At least one other comedian also had an association with Mohr on the Opie and Anthony radio show, so some viewers wonder if the contest for the best comics really is on the up-and-up. We are currently looking into the questions and will be following up here on RNO in the weeks to come.
There are two things that should be pointed out about this situation: one, the contest was never about finding “unknown” comics, but rather giving comics a chance to get a boost in their career by having their act seen on a national level; and, two, when Mohr was about to setup the Fear Factor question for May in Episode One, he quite clearly states, “Just to show there’s no conflict of interest –“ Also, at the end of the third episode, when he announces a couple of the winners, he also clearly states that “I don’t vote.” Therefore, it was probably mentioned during the showcase that night that Mohr knew May and some of the others. The guess would be that the editors decided to edit out Mohr’s announcement in order not to confuse viewers at home. A bit of a shame, as it may have helped really nip this nagging question in the bud before it came up.
For readers who may have missed the first two episodes that aired on June 10, a brief history of what has happened so far on the show. Episode One was a recap of the West Coast semi-finals, where 25 comedians faced each other in front of a panel of judges. Episode Two was a recap of the East Coast semi-finals, with another 25 comedians competing against each other. Ten comedians were picked from each semi-final, and flown to Las Vegas to compete in the finals, which aired this week on the program.
The format was much the same this week as previously, with Jay Mohr coming out to first introduce the four judges to the audience. They are:
John Witherspoon – An actor and comedian that is probably best known currently for his role in the Friday movies. He has appeared in a lot of other things over the years, and is one of those faces that we all know, but can never quite put a name to the face when we see him in things.
Victoria Jackson – Some people probably know her best for being on Saturday Night Live back in the late 1980s, but Dale will always remember her from her appearances on The Tonight Show and Half-Hour ComedyHour (how many people remember that one?). She also had a great role in Weird Al Yankovic’s movie UHF, and it’s a crime that she doesn’t get more work than Strip Mall, but at least it sounds like she has a very happy family life, so all’s good in the end.
Aiysha Taylor – We have to admit we don’t know much about Aiysha, as she hosted E1’s Talk Soup long after we stopped watching it. The NBC bio says that she “spent time working comedy clubs and colleges in thirty states before settling in Los Angeles.” Sorry, Aiysha.
Phyllis Diller – Like Buddy Hackett before her, Phyllis Diller has been a dynamo in stand-up comedy since she first broke through as a contestant on the old You Bet Your Life game-show. Before Ellen, before Roseanne, before Joan Rivers, there was Phyllis Diller. To have her as a judge is a nice nod to the comics of an older generation, and it’s obvious that she tries to bring her experience to the judging as well.
After a couple of quick snippets backstage, showing the comedians getting ready for their appearances, Mohr brings out the first act, who is Tess. Tess was a bit weak in Episode One, going for the obvious fat jokes. She does the same type of material here, but it comes off better. She has a tendency to laugh at her own stuff, however, which – and this is just a personal thing – can really be annoying for a comedian. Very few comedians can/could get away with that. For everyone else it looks like the comedian is trying too hard to get laughs by being their own laugh-track. Still, her act comes off much better here than in Episode One. Maybe not enough to make it to the final ten, however.
Russ Maneve comes out next with phone sex jokes and just doesn’t seem to get the audience this week. His joke in Episode Two about shark attacks went over bigger than what was seen on the show tonight. You could see he felt it as well.
Ant is shown in a brief interview, talking about how his parents were happy to see him make it this far in the show. He then comes out and does some more of his act – all gay jokes. Seeing more of his act helps, however, and he comes off much better than in Episode One. John Witherspoon does get on him about all the gay material, saying that Ant could do other stuff. Ant does a quick (and pretty old) joke about being sober for 110 days (“oh, not all in a row”), which gets a good laugh. Strangely enough, just as I’m starting to warm up to the guy, it is obvious that the judges are not completely satisfied with his act.1 2 3 Next-->
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