LAST EDITED ON 06-10-04 AT 01:18 PM (EST)Last Comic Standing, Episode 1 Official Summary
Amateurs Need Not Apply
We are greeted by our host, Jay Mohr, who is standing in the middle of Times Square, and who is wearing what looks like an ensemble lifted from Pierce Brosnan’s closet. He informs us that Last Comic Standing is back, after Dat Phan and his gravity-defying hair, with the help of the ignorant American Idol public, upset Ralphie May in the finals last season. Dat then comes on to remind us of how he went from sleeping under a desk to appearing on the Tonight Show (telling the same freaking jokes for the 200th time, btw), which reminds us ever so subtly that dreams can come true. Oh. Yes. They. Can. (Unless, of course, you’re actually funny. In which case, it’s back to trying to eke out a living in the world of drunks, insomniacs, and bars that have a smoky haze thicker than your average NORML convention.) Oh, it’s a warm-your-heart, rags-to-riches, Cinderella-boy-on-the-18th-at-Augusta story which sets up the viewer to wonder which unknown comic will emerge from the depths of obscurity to be the next Dat Phan?
That? Should be a federal crime, because, my friends, this season will bear little to no resemblance to the last one. Why, you may ask? Oh you’ll see. You’ll see, alright.
HUGE “open calls” are promised in eight, count them EIGHT cities across the country. They will leave no rock unturned in this talent search. No sirree. Then the thousands will be culled by the masters that are the producers and the guys who book for the unfunniest guy with a regular TV gig and some very important comedic legends (whose opinions will be discarded like each of their careers in TV, per section 42, subsection 8, paragraph 15, lines 4-17 of their contract—which, as it happens, is right after the part about their per diem.) to a magical, golden field of 10. Those 10 will live in a house, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then they will eat each other for several weeks like betta fish in a bowl. Finally, a winner voted on by YOU the voting public (and not rigged in any way, shape, or form, so sayeth the honorable folks at The Peacock), and that winner will get a “special” NBC development deal (which has done wonders for the career of one Tom Papa, I can tell you), one (1) Comedy Central special (not to be redeemed during certain black-out dates), and, apparently, some sort of telekinetic ability that will allow them passage through doors otherwise closed and locked with a bazillion deadbolts. David Blaine, eat your heart out.
Cruise Directors Talent Scouts are Bob Read and Ross Mark, two completely indistinguishable and extremely pale hacks, who book for Leno.
Los Angeles casting call
(Important note: I’m not going to bother much with detailing every stinking person NBC saw fit to jam down our pieholes, because A) 95% of them aren’t relevant, B) most of them sucked supremely, C) I have very little patience for attention whores whose only purpose in standing in line for 86 consecutive hours is to make a complete jack-ass out of themselves on national TV so they can watch this episode with their equally stupid friends and jump around like an aroused chimpanzee when they get their five seconds of airtime, and D) this episode of little consequence was Two. Hours. Long. I’m sorry, I’m tight like that. The good news for you is that you don’t have to sit through the utterly embarrassing sets of the guy in lederhosen, the guy who had a TV on a dummy’s torso, the extremely bad ventriloquist, or the guy with the jock strap over his face. I did, and I’m not getting those minutes back. Ever.)
After a parade of losers that make NAMBLA look like a group you’d like to picnic with, we get our first glimpse of the sublime “Buck Star Show”. Buck Star is a wannabe surf punk with a porn star’s name. He has no talent whatsoever, but he makes up for that with shamelessness on a massive scale. He will be back, but not tonight at the callback.
Next up is Joe Hursley. Joe has not been keeping up with his medication, and my mother told me never to laugh at the mentally ill, so his “humor” was lost on me. He’s not unlike the guy on the subway who talks to himself and whom you do everything in your power not to make eye contact with. Inexplicably, he gets a callback. Must’ve been a long day.
Shortly after Joe, our two talent scouts slip in a little comment about how people they’ve booked on Leno and Letterman are auditioning. Say whaa? I thought one of the primary conditions of eligibility last year was that you couldn’t have appeared on Leno or Letterman. Actually, I think that’s a pretty good condition, but I guess NBC doesn’t trust these two waste-oids to be able to, y’know, do their friggin’ jobs as talent scouts, and thus they’ve dropped the condition and stocked the pond, and not just in a Rich-Vos-as-The-Don kinda way.
The next two through the door are Todd Glass and Kathleen Madigan. Huh? Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against either of them. In fact I think they’re both above average comedians, but here’s the thing—they’ve both been on Leno and have had their own Comedy Central special. Isn’t this a bit like letting Michael Bolton audition for American Idol? Needless to say, they both advance to the semi-finals in New York.
Also advancing to the 40-person semi-finals is, Triana, the stripper with a heart of gold and a Britney Spears-esque schoolgirl uni. I’m sure it was sheer talent that got her there. I wouldn’t know for sure, because by wasting time with the exceptionally untalented, we only get about 30 seconds of everyone’s act. And I gotta say, if they’re showing us the A material, it’s gonna be a long season. But I digress.
Ant, the flamingly gay body builder from last season’s preliminary rounds gets a bid, too. Clearly he has compromising pictures of someone high up the chain.
Moving on, but otherwise unremarkable are Monty Hoffman as "the curmudgeon", Corey Holcomb as “the big black guy”, Bonnie McFarlane as “the edgy chick”, Alonzo Bodden as “the angry black guy”, Jimmy Dore as “the smart-ass”, Tammy Pescatelli as “the stereotypically annoying Italian woman” and Retha Jones as “the black woman with an attitude”.
Jay London, a man who looks like a troll with incredibly bad posture and Kenny G’s hair, and who, quite frankly, makes me really uncomfortable (and you need to know how hard it is to make me really uncomfortable) also moves on to NYC.
Pablo Francisco, another person with a Comedy Central special under his belt and a gig on Mad TV, gets an invite, rounding out the field from LA. Next stop, San Francisco.
San Francisco casting call
More really bad routines from people who waited overnight precede the return of “The Buck Star Show”. Bob and Ross seem dumbfounded by this. They explain to him that they shot him down in LA, and they’re shooting him down here too. He responds by saying, “So I guess there’s no point in me going to Houston”. Bob and Ross tell him that since they’re going to Dallas next, that no, there wouldn’t be any point in him going to Houston…or Dallas for that matter.
Moving on from the San Fran callbacks is Vladimir Khlynin, a Billy Corgan look-alike who was actually kinda funny, and Chris Voth as “the guy who can’t even dress himself”.
Also in this group is Will Durst. Will Durst? Are you kidding me? Who’s next, Don Rickles? Will Durst was established when I was a kid fer chrissakes. But apparently, he’s buds with Dave Mordal, and it seems Last Comic recharged Dave’s spiritual battery, or some Californian psychobabble. It is truly embarrassing to see these people who have good, solid careers in comedy reduced to doing step-and-fetch-it routines for a show run by Jay “the only male cast member of SNL in the last 25 years unable to use it as a springboard to something bigger than cult status as a regular caller to the Jim Rome show” Mohr.
Next stop on the Buck Star tour is…
Dallas was utterly unremarkable. Aside from a sasquatch hillbilly and the return of “The Buck Star Show”, the only thing worthy of mentioning is who advanced. They are: Paul Varghese as “the ethnic guy who makes fun of his dad” and John Wessling as “the redneck who makes fun of his dad”. Neither of these guys are going any farther than this.
This time Buck Star must’ve caught Bob on a good day, because he gives him $40 for lunch. I gotta say, there are much more cost-effective ways of panhandling.
As you’d imagine, New York has it’s share of established vets debasing themselves. Here we have Louis Ramey, Tom Cotter, and DC Benny, all Comedy Central vets, and Sue Costello, who has already been the star of a sitcom that lasted exactly as many episodes as Forever Eden.
Also progressing from New York to, well, New York, are the very large, truly frightening, and very NOT funny Jessica Kirson, the potentially very funny Dan Ahdoot as “the guy who gave up a career in medicine for comedy”, Kerri Louise as “Tom Cotter’s wife”, Tim Young as “the guy who could be a stalker”, Dan Naturman as “the guy who is definitely a stalker”, Eddie Ifft as “the guy who sponges off his sister—but not in a Blake and Paige kinda way”, and Marina Franklin as “the chick who can do facial expressions but has no real act”.
Next up for “The Buck Star Show”?
Now that he’s been enabled by charity, Buck Star will likely Kato Kaelin his way into Bob’s guest room, but for now he’s content to just follow him all over the country.
Mostly, the casting call here was mediocre with only Juston McKinney as “the yokel cop”, Frank Santorelli as “the guy who let comedy pass him by”, and Gary Gulman as “the tall, dark, and handsome-for-a-comic who is sure to make the house”.
Here, Buck Star stops trying to tell jokes and just does fart noises with his armpit. On the whole, it’s funnier than anything he’s said thus far. I start to fear that he’ll get an invite just on sheer whore-ness.
(Cross-board side note: I found it ironic on a personally hilarious level that our own Kimmah’s worst nightmare, a “little person” comedian made the callback in her home state. That’s some serious Karma at work there, that is. When she started doing that epileptic-seizure thing, I had visions of Kimmah running shrieking from the room. And I don’t even know if she watches this show. Not likely after that, I’ll tell you what.)
Only two advanced from Music City. The already established John Heffron (which puts the “Comedians With Careers” counter at 9) and Bert Kreischer, who told us at least 5 times about how his wife is pregnant and he could really, really, really, really, NO REALLY use some money. If this guy makes the house, it’s shower rod city for yours truly. I’m so not kidding here. Matter of fact, I give it 3-1 odds that his own wife goes lethally upside his head with a frying pan within the month. Maybe Buck Star has some change left over from his New York lunch he can spare.
Buck Star…again. Who didn’t see this coming?
Only one person got an invite from Chicago. One. That’s it. Third largest MEDIA MARKET in the country, home of Second City and more famous comedians than I can count, and the only person they could find was Jim Wiggins, a saloon comic who sounds like he’s been eating asbestos three times daily since the age of 10? Someone needs to get fired over that oversight.
We are told that 39 spots have been filled, but by my stellar counting skills, I count only 34 people. Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the phantom five they haven’t shown us aren’t moving past the next round. Again, who the hell is editing this show, anyway? Thanks for showing me the Vietnamese Cowboy, but not someone who had enough talent, supposedly, to garner a trip to NYC.
Despite a valiant effort from Grandma Lee Strong, who is likely to appear in a resurrection of the “Where’s the Beef” ad campaign, and an actual pity callback for our boy Buck Star, Jim Norton, another comedian with a steady TV gig and touring schedule, gets the final invite.
So that’s it. We’re down to 40 already. Not that it really matters, of course, because at least half of the slots in the house will go to people who have very close dealings with the producers of this obviously rigged show.
I need a nap.