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Last Comic Standing 6, Episode 1: It’s Alive! Alive!by Dale Sherman -- 05/23/2008
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Dale Sherman, back once again to cover Last Comic Standing for the sixth time. I have to say that I was nearly dreading the episode tonight, as I came out of the fifth season feeling like the show was falling apart in front of the viewers’ eyes. To prove a point, I could only remember one comic from that season – Doug Benson. Oh, and Dante, because I went through nine circles of Hell with him on the show. To think we had three professional comedians help pick that group and what we got was so cookie-cutter that we were left with the blandest season of the show ever. Sadly amazing.
But on to this season, and to do so, first I have to apologize to regular readers that, for the first time in the history of LCS, I did not do a preview article to announce when tryouts were being held in February and March. There’s a couple of reasons for this – one, I’m in the middle of revising two of my first three books for “tenth anniversary” re-release later this year (How’s that for a cheap plug for your product? Well, if you had the chance, you’d do it too.) and my time was very limited back earlier in the year because of those projects.
Second, I’ve come to the conclusion that digging too deep early on and finding out a lot of details about the show is taking the life out of the show for me and probably for readers as well. It used to be that a lot of searching was involved to find out details about the upcoming tryouts, who might be making it, what will be involved in the tryouts, etc. Now, it’s as easy as a quick Google search. Heck, one popular site (whose name I won’t mention, but they’re pretty Wikid) lists who performed at all the tryouts and who won at each. I mean, talk about sucking all the fun out of the show when you already know who will move on thanks to spoilers from participants at the clubs!
So I decided this time around I’m going to hold back and see what the show wants to show me. Afterwards, we’ll go back and see what other bits and pieces we can find out behind-the-scenes and get a better understanding of what occurred. For now, however, let’s just sit back and see if the show can move past the dead weight of Season Five.
The first episode starts with Bill Bellamy on a stage, telling the camera that there will be a lot of comics who will fight to get to the stage, yet only one will be named the Last Comic Standing. This leads into traditional opening credits for the show, with the announcer telling viewers that the show will travel to six continents to find the “funniest comics from all over the world.” A bit of a change in the judging occurs this year, as this time around each location will have different judges, all of them individuals from a variety of NBC programs.
And the winner of the program will earn $250,000, an “exclusive NBC contract,” and a Honda Pilot. Yes, a car. Previous seasons gave the tempting offer of possibly getting a pilot done for NBC or one of its affiliate networks; now when they say pilot, they just mean that you’re better off driving away. Well, it’s not like the “exclusive NBC contract” has been making any of the winners into stars of their own weekly comedy series so far. At least you can sell the car later for food. No one wants a used television pilot these days. Not even NBC.
The camera cuts to a tryout from the Gotham Comedy Club in New York on February 7. Out on the sidewalk is new co-host with Bill, Fearne Cotton. Far from sounding like a new type of fabric (as in “Boy, this Fearne Cotton is making my butt itch”), Cotton is a polished young woman who has done a good hunk of announcing positions on a variety of British programs far too numerous to name them all here. Safe to say that, from her brief work on the program this week, she certainly does not harm the show and seems to be taking it in a good spirit as she shows off the long line of people waiting to audition for the program.
Inside the club sit two well known faces from television, Richard Belzer and Steve Schirripa. Schirripa is probably best known as playing Bobby on The Sopranos, but he’s also known for his work as being the entertainment director at The Rivieria in Las Vegas and is still a consultant there. Because of this factor, Schirripa sounds like he would have the credentials to locate good performers in the auditions. As for his NBC connections, Schirripa is a regular correspondent on The Tonight Show.
Richard Belzer is probably better known today for his work on Law & Order, but I grew up watching him as a stand-up on all the talk-shows (and even his own couple of short-lived ones over the years – including the infamous moment where wrestler Hulk Hogan successfully and accidentally – or so Hogan always claimed – knocked Belzer out with a sleeper-hold). Belzer was also involved with Channel One, a comedy team that did television parodies and skits, which later led him to contributing to the early days of Saturday Night Live (he appears at the start of an early episode in Season Two with his former Channel One costar, Chevy Chase).
In other words, these are just a couple of guys that have no idea what comedy is and were pulled off the street by NBC to fill a couple of empty chairs. Well, who knows about NBC, actually; but even if they did just pull their names out of a hat, they picked two excellent judges and it is immediately seen as the first comic comes out dressed in a chicken outfit and really just flat-out sucking. Neither Belzer nor Schirripa find the guy amusing, or their predicament in being forced to watch him funny for the camera. They don’t need to mug to the camera or think they have to play cute with a “hilarious” sound-bite for the viewers – a bad comic is bad for business and not a laughing matter. As more bad comics are shown, the reactions from the judges are properly grim.
They do brighten up when they see Louis Ramey, who sees doing stand-up as like going into battle and the objective is to win the battle each night. His routine talks about being the only black guy in Aspen and having his car stripped by robbers while he was sitting in it. Both of the judges like him and ask him to come back.
Several people appear in a montage next, with each being asked to vacate the stage after bombing. In interviews with these individuals afterwards, nearly all of them shrug and say the same thing, “Whadaya gonna do?” Well, that makes sense, really. What can you do after getting kicked out the door? Just shrug and move on.
Next is Adam Sank, who talks about being a gay, liberal, democrat while working at Fox News. Steve likes him and wants to see more of him. Later on the stage, not back at the hotel, he means. They also both like Esther Ku, a 24-year-old Korean-American who Belzer finds “conversational and quite funny.” A short bio about Ku has her talking to her mom on the phone and it really does appear that her family may be as funny as she says they are in her interview. While it is not noted on the show, Ku placed in the top ten for the 2006 NBC Stand-up for Diversity showcase, a program that was started close to when Season Four of LCS was kicking in.1 2 3 Next-->
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