Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brief thoughts on NBC's "Last Comic Standing"

Yes, I watched most of this season's surprising revival of "Last Comic Standing." (Surprising as in, like "24: Live Another Day," it had been off the air for four seasons before coming back.) I do enjoy stand-up routines though I haven't seen one live in about forever.

The finale involved Nikki Carr, an African-American lesbian (I mentioned this because many of her jokes revolved around her race/gender/sexual orientation); Lachlan Patterson, a kind of bland handsome guy; and Rod-Man, best described as if you could imagine Chris Tucker from Rush Hour on speed. Of the three, I would've picked Nikki Carr, but the judges picked Rod-Man.

However, my favorite comic wasn't in the finale, because he was cut in the penultimate episode. Joe Machi has this awkward, quite dorky and stilted affect, but it worked incredibly well for him. The following joke not only won a tough match-up one week (it came in the second final death tiebreaker) but was also selected as the #1 joke of the season (at 3:48):

The shame of it is that Machi had to go through WAY more funny material than anyone else did. That's because under the format of the show, the paring of 10 finalists down to 5 consisted of weekly challenges where the contestants would each select someone to face the chopping block by taping an individual confessional that closed with, "I know I'm funnier than ... " Whichever comic got the most votes would then select his or her challenger.

Machi kept getting picked.

Now, under the original format of the show, at least in the early seasons, the face-offs were judged by the actual audience at that location. In the first season, Dat Phan - the eventual winner - kept getting picked by the more professional comics, as all of Phan's material seemed to involve making fun of his parents' heavily Asian-accented English. Yet, different audiences were hearing the same material for the first time, so Phan somehow kept winning.

In this season's format, the three judges picked the weekly winners all the way to the end, so Machi couldn't re-use the same jokes. He had to come up with new material. Now, judge Keenan Ivory Wayans did note that Machi seemed to get more comfortable as the weeks went on, which unfortunately worked against his affectation. Perhaps that too contributed to his earlier-than-deserved departure. But I bet the "Jefferson's kids" joke would have had boosted him into the finale, if he could've saved it for then.

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