If I’m doing my math right, there were 20 minutes of actual performance on Wednesday’s Last Comic Standing, as each of the final five comedians had four minutes on stage.
Figure maybe another two minutes apiece for how-they-got-here clips and host Bill Bellamy telling people which number to call (yes, America, finally you can vote!), and that’s about a half-hour of semi-relevant content. So if the hour felt especially padded and commercial-heavy, you weren’t imagining it.
And even during that performance time, I wasn’t exactly falling off the couch with laughter. Here’s how they did:
Lavell used to work in fast food, which wasn’t so fast when he was there. It’s a hereditary thing, apparently: "I found out my ancestors were slaves, and if they’re anything like me they got tired of that quick. … ‘I know he ain’t talking to me, I don’t even know what cotton is.’"
The work theme continues throughout his time, including a bit about how he would want to clock back in if ever someone brought a gun into the office and held the place hostage. His most successful piece was a joke about how, when he was an orange-vested crossing guard, he would occasionally impersonate a highway barrel. "Put that weed away … I think that barrel just said something to me."
The Hemi guy starts off all right, with some decent wordplay about annoying cell-phone talkers in public — "your privacy is invading our public," and "You want a blue tooth? Eat a blackberry." Not bad.
Then he starts talking about beer, and how he’d like to marry beer, and how he’d like to buy the inventor of beer a beer, and you can kind of feel the energy go out of the theater. He finishes up on a joke about Budweiser being his favorite beer, because it’s so easy to order when you’re already in the bag. And while I like an Old Milwaukee joke as much as the next guy, I don’t know that a 15-year-old ad campaign is the best premise for a joke.
So, yeah, not blown away yet.
It’s good that Ralph has a big family, because I don’t know what he’d do for material if he didn’t. After past riffs on his crotchety father and freeloading uncle, he spends nearly all of his time on an aunt with ample arm flab and another uncle who’s a drunk.
Seems the aunt would let him swing on her extra arm flesh when she was young, and was wont to save and redistribute the food she accidentally dipped her skin in at Thanksgiving. The uncle, well, he talks funny. He gets some groan-laughs in miming the uncle’s puking and then powering it back down, but this is more of more of the same from him. All the polished delivery in the world doesn’t make up for overly familiar material.
The youngest comedian left in the competition is getting possibly the biggest showcase of her career, and her nerves may be showing a little. Her delivery tends to be sort of offhand anyway, and it works for her, but she seems a little hesitant tonight.
Some of the asides work. Talking about some recent weight loss, she gives thanks to Dr. Phil — "not for his advice, but because he makes me sick." However, the centerpiece of her routine, about her mom’s penchant to adopt the culture of each of her four husbands, falls a little flat. I’d be inclined to keep her around just because her material is newer and fresher, but I don’t think the audience will necessarily agree with me.
Gerry has the advantage both of going last and not having an especially high bar to clear. Which he does. He doesn’t absolutely kill, but he does have a couple of nicely observed bits on the strange ritual of wedding gift-giving.
He also has jokes about gravy, and they’re better than Ralph’s. Here’s how he describes the gift of a two-liter gravy boat: "It’s not like we went out for dinner two weeks before the wedding and I ordered 17 sides of gravy. ‘Oh, get him a gravy boat. He loves that.’" His closer to that piece, about a gift of $45, also scores for me.
The night’s best: Gerry, although as I said, no one had me really laughing out loud. Based on past performance, I wouldn’t mind having Lavell and Amy stick around either.
Turn the mike off: Neither Ralph nor Jon has done much for me throughout the competition. Chances are each has enough audience recognition to stick around another week, but I won’t be sorry to see either of them go.
Who had you laughing Wednesday? Is anyone worthy of a quarter-million dollars?