For those of you who may not know me, or do not recognize my name without Rob yelling a J.B. Smoove impression, I’m Mike Bloom, and I currently co-host the Last Comic Standing recaps with our very own RHAP #MonopolySlumlord, Rob Cesternino. For those of you who have been listening all season (and presumably have given a lot of business to Draftkings.com for our stellar ad work for them), you’ll know that last time Rob and I recorded, we were a little up in the air as to whether we wanted to do a podcast on these “recap” episodes that we had this past week. After seeing them, I felt that there was definitely enough juice to power us through, so Rob and I settled on a happy medium and went with a blog post. This is my first foray into blog writing, so I hope you all enjoy it. If you don’t, I’ll just say it was ghostwritten by Dan Heaton.
Let’s speak first to the format of these episodes, specifically Standing Room Only. I initially expected it to be a recap episode in the format of Survivor days of yore, which is to say a very basic summary of the season thus far with a couple of additional never-before-seen scenes. However, this show skewed much more towards a version of “The S&@# They Should Have Shown” format from The Challenge, which is to say chock full of absolutely new material. However, in true NBC fashion, the episode was not only promoted oddly, but also schizophrenic as all hell. So come with me as we go down the rabbit hole, but watch out for that mouse that Roseanne is still looking for:
- So we start out with a recap of the invitations, in an oddly edited montage of judges’ comments taken out of context, followed by a comment from one of our finalists. But things get even odder when they begin to show us sets from some whom I’m going to call “The Forgotten 30.” These people did not make it to the next round, but their performance was not televised whatsoever. I still feel really bad for these people, since I’m not sure why their solid sets were left on the cutting room floor over someone like Ben Kromberg. But alas, here are my top few jokes from the Forgotten 30:
- Brian Jian: “People get kind of weirded out when they hear me speak. I get it; the audio doesn’t exactly match the visual. A buddy said to me once, ‘You know what, Brian? You look like you would star in a kung fu movie, and then dub your own voiceovers.’”
- Ken Rogerson: “I drove through Amish Country. It’s snowing out; I rented the car so I’m gonna be speeding a little bit. I come around the corner, and I see this Amish guy start to cross the street to get to his mailbox. And my first thought was: ‘Well, if I hit him, I’ll be out of the state before anybody gets to a phone.”
- Erin Judge: “I have a husband; I’m married. People always say, ‘That’s so confusing! You said you were bisexual, but you’re married.’ And I guess it is confusing. The truth is I dated women for a really long, and then I met my husband, and then I was like, ‘Wow…close enough.’”
- Randy Liedtke (I know he was shown but I need to get any taste of him I can): “We used to have a dog; it’s actually a sad story. He bit a little boy so we had to have him killed. Or else he would have told his parents.”
- Next, we move to some unseen sets from those who did make it past the semifinals. Not much to talk about here, folks. Just: appearances from Tracey Ashley and Dana Eagle that make me wish they had made it to the challenges, a nice joke from Mike Vecchione about improper fractions and pants sizes, and a clever joke from Alingon Mitra about internet porn.
- We get a quick recap of the past challenge episode, and the only thing I’ll point out is this quote from Joe Machi, which really nicely recaps why the challenge rounds are horrible for the contestants, but great for the viewers: “It’s like a baseball player boxing. It’s related to the athletic thing, but it’s not the same. So we don’t really have those same musicles.”
- After the first commercial break (one of many), we actually get this really nice staged discussion around the dinner table with the Top 8. We were able to get information about their comedy experiences (Rocky was told when starting on the road that he needed to be clean; Rod Man breaks down how social media influences popularity now) and their worst gigs (DC had to perform at the Apollo at an awkward moment, Karlous opened for male strippers, Rocky confused the acronym NASA). We also got a nice story involving Rod Man saving Lachlan from a heckler that proves how small the comedy world is. And makes me want to see a LOST-esque flashback of Rod Man hosting comedy shows. Because I’m sure he’d be amazing.
- I feel like, in getting rid of the house the past few seasons, we haven’t really gotten to know the contestants outside of their sets. But I was really grateful for this episode at the end of the day, since these comics have been fleshed out much more as people, as compared to the simple pieces on the chessboard that I feel like a lot of modern reality TV editing has depicted. So let’s touch on these comics one at a time, and I’ll give you readers an added bonus for getting this far in my rambling by putting them in the order of my “power rankings,” from top to bottom.
- 1) Joe Machi – I love the idea of this tiny Joe watching a videotape of Jack Benny and not understanding any of the jokes, but still getting inspired to make people laugh. Apparently he still holds down a job in HR, which is hilarious because I can only imagine him as the most nervous, passive-aggressive person to take into a conflict resolution meeting. Despite his nice guy persona, I would love to see him play dirty and pin some drugs on the other contestants like he promised. Also, I need a gif of him running, since J.B. only touched on it in the premiere and we need to see more of it. Hopefully the next challenge involves a race. A race while wearing one of his three Hawaiian shirts.
- Mike’s Take: With Joe, I had the exact same reaction as the judges. I thought his first bit was totally part of a character, and I was prepared for him to get on my nerves the entire rest of the season. But, after settling into his cadence, my opinion of him skyrocketed, and he’s my pick to win it all. I love his jokes and delivery, a series of dark and somewhat offensive bits sprinkled with his “aw, gee” smile. He’s a very smart writer and, from looking at his confessionals, just a really nice and genial guy. I want to buy him a beer, and I hope he can buy me one back after he wins that $250,000.
- 2) Rod Man –His actual name is apparently Rod Thompson, but he decided to change it, I guess to have a direct correlation to a basketball player/diplomat who’s one of the most unintentionally funny people around these days. He’s from Villa Rica, Georgia and yes, I had to actually Google it to get a spelling out of his trademark pronunciation. He is apparently a fantastic citizen, attending PTA meetings and children’s plays when he has no direct involvement in them, which would sound creepy in this age of To Catch a Predator if it was anyone else but Rod Man. His previously unseen material involves the fears of direct deposit and seemingly bottomless debit cards. And we learn that Keenan is the reason behind Rod Man’s choice in a shirt that is both a rejected superhero costume and Eddie Murphy’s jacket from “Delirious” turned inside out.
- Mike’s Take: The narrator already declared him one of the season’s early favorites, and I couldn’t agree more. His material is extremely strong, and his delivery is truly unique. I do think his wordiness can get away from him sometimes, but as long as he has the audience on his side, he’s golden. And with a jump in airtime last episode from being involved on the losing team and going into a head-to-head, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Rod Man for the next month and a half.
- 3) Nikki Carr – This is the first “sob story” we really experience of the night, though it’s not even a sob story compared to what we see from other reality shows. Nikki has four kids, which honestly surprises me given how much of her routine is about how she finds herself so unattractive, and as a result of Nikki’s slowing comedy career they were left homeless for a bit. She’s doing fine now, but part of me hopes that she was able to adopt a man named Dreamz while she was out on the street. I hear he’s been living out of his car. But sorry, Nicky, I’m not a giant fan of pork; I’m a beef man through and through.
- Mike’s Take: She truly does have a unique point of view. I feel like it’s the aggregation of many different points of view from comics I’ve seen so far, and it culminates in quite the act. To play the gender game, there has never been a time when all the women were eliminated during the challenge rounds, so I think that superstition, plus her killer delivery, will get her through to the finals. She’s also shown she can kill in sketches, and I know I would be interested in a Nikki-laden sitcom.
- 4) Rocky LaPorte – Only one guy can deliver such lines as “I think my favorite animal’s probably shrimp” in a way that makes me guffaw out loud. As he vocalizes, he really does have that every man appeal that Dangerfield had back in the day. Living in New York, I could walk down Eighth Avenue and probably find at least 20 guys that look like Rocky in a myriad of different careers. We learn that Rocky used to be a truck driver until he got shot in a hold up, which makes me believe that he must have been involved in the mafia, since I doubt the traditional carjacker is into stealing an entire semi.
- Mike’s Take: Man, am I glad he graduated from doing those “Amelia Bedelia” jokes in his first set. I really enjoy Rocky’s style and delivery, especially when it’s outside of these one liners. But I feel like Rocky would have killed this competition 20 or even 10 years ago. Now, in a world where clean comedy isn’t exactly the coolest thing, I’m not sure if he’s suitable as a winner or as the lead in an NBC sitcom.
- 5) DC Benny – He refers to himself in the comedy scene as “under the radar,” which is actually a perfect way to describe his edit as well. His previously unseen material covers life with his sex therapist wife, including a role play scene that sounds like it was on the cutting room floor for the latter half of Weeds. He does have a somewhat inspirational story, having spent the four years before this selling real estate to pay the bills. And like his father, I too feel that Denzel Snipes is quite a fine actor.
- Mike’s Take:We see a little sneak backstage that one of the contestants saw DC perform at his college when he was a freshman. DC clearly has a lot of years on him, and that’s made his material extremely sharp. But will the judges and producers rather invest in a younger, “hotter” comic? I do really enjoy DC, and he’s risen in my ranks greatly from what I thought was a frenetic invitationals set. I could definitely see him sneak through the challenge rounds untested.
- 6) Monroe Martin – We finally got to see this “adorable contest” between Monroe and J.B.! Though I am still firmly in Monroe’s camp, as J.B. attempting to look cute is like watching Dana Carvey in his turtle costume from Master of Disguise pose for Playgirl. His segment was a little dull to be honest, just a lot of talk about how he’s so cheerful and goofy in lieu of his tough upbringing. And as someone who’s lived in New York City for close to a year now, I will admit that some of it does smell like pee, specifically public transit. Or Times Square at 2:00 in the morning.
- Mike’s Take: Meh. Monroe’s probably the definition of the “meh” comic in the competition for me. I think his material is fine, but not strong enough to put him near the top of my power rankings. He has a lot of story to mine, but he doesn’t have the energy to bring us into that world like DC does. If he brings more material like what I saw in this recap episode, my opinion of him will definitely rise.
- 7) Karlous Miller – His new material touches on the similarities between girdles and bulletproof vests and AIDS statistics. Apparently his edginess comes from the fact that he had verbal approval from his mother, which is a sign to some parents to never let their sons grow up to be comics. But all joking aside, I do have a soft spot for the fact that he lost his mother on the way to a gig on New Year’s Eve. I can’t ever imagine having to entertain at such a low point in your life, and I have respect for him in that regard.
- Mike’s Take: If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know I am not a big fan of Karlous. For his entire “dangerous” persona, I don’t think his material is that terribly exciting. The major turnoff for me though is his personality. Between telling Amy and Wanda that he doesn’t like rehearsal and making some pretty harsh jokes against Monroe, he is not someone I would want to see at a show or in a sitcom. Maybe it’s time for the “mouth from the South” to get a filter.
- 8) Lachlan Patterson – His new material talks about the benefits of homosexuality being considered an illness, which I’m pretty sure was the original plot of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He also talked about the construction of the George Foreman Grill, which honestly is the funniest thing I’ve seen him do, but it reeks so much of a Jim Gaffigan routine that I can smell the bacon from here. Also, I again have to ask how old is this man? He’s apparently been in comedy for 15 years so, unless he’s another of Joan Rivers’ protégés and is receiving free facial construction, he must have started pretty young.
- Mike’s Take:It’s no surprise that Lachlan is at the bottom of my list. I have not been the most reserved of my disdain for Lachlan, to the point of semifinalist Zainab Johnson telling me on Twitter to go easy on him. Look, I can understand what a lot of viewers would see in him. But to me, he’s not original at all. He’s doing pretty substandard jokes in points of view that don’t even make sense to who he is. Usually every season there’s at least one “meh” person who makes it through to the live shows, and something tells me Lachlan will be that person. But if the sketch challenge taught us anything, it’s that he and acting might not be as copacetic as a mannequin and its window dresser.
- Lastly, we got a list of the Top 50 jokes of the season thus far. I was wondering if this would just be a list of any 50 jokes a la the “listicles” that have actually given employees at Buzzfeed a career path. But no, these omnipotent producers have apparently ranked what they feel are the 50 best jokes so far. So, for those of you who failed to see them, here they are! Just a note that I will have assumed you have either seen these jokes or heard them on our podcasts, so I will not take the trouble of directly quoting them:
50. Rob Christensen – “I wanna hear you scream like you’ve never screamed before!”
49. DC Benny – Mom used to buy his clothes from the thrift shop.
48. (SHOCKER PLACEMENT) Deanne Smith – #Tellittomyballs
47. Randy Liedtke – My penis lost its job.
46. Kimberly Clark – Keisha vs. Oops I Thought She Was Keisha.
45. Guy Branum – Largest homosexual in the county.
44. Aida Rodriguez – Puerto Rican means a black person who speaks Spanish or a Mexican with papers.
43. Joe Zimmerman – Challenging alligator evasion techniques.
42. Mike Vecchione – Baby Bjorn as jewelry.
41. Mike Lawrence – The parental logistics of naming your child Scar.
40. Andi Smith – Girls getting boob jobs as graduation presents.
39. Nikki Carr – Getting fired for sleeping on the job.
38. Gerald Kelly – Watching his wedding tape backwards.
37. Alingon Mitra – “I’m surprised anyone’s attracted to men.”
36. Karlous Miller – Weaves have gotten crazy nowadays.
35. Bob Kubota – Talking to a college professor about his nationality.
34. Dave Landau – Breathalyzer installed in his car.
33. Monroe Martin – His foster mother makes $750 a week to take care of him.
32. Mike Vecchione – Volunteer firefighter vs. actual firefighter.
31. Rod Man – Got pulled over in the carpool lane.
30. Emily Galati – Arizona has the most grandparents.
29. Randy Liedtke – Curt and Rod’s Curtain Rods.
28. Rocky LaPorte – Camping vs. homelessness.
27. Dave Landau – Annoyed with showing people pictures of their children.
26. Billy Wayne Davis – The similarities between rednecks and gay men.
25. Jimmy Shubert – Calories behind celery.
24. Mark Normand – The misunderstandings of working as a janitor.
23. Patrick Susmilch – Home use catheter commercial.
22. Mike Gaffney – The extreme tone of teenage girls.
21. Tim Northern – Rat poison intolerant.
20. Dana Eagle – Meeting her maker is a customer service complaint.
19. Jasper Redd – Roots is like Star Wars for black people.
18. Zainab Johnson – When is she truly crazy in the relationship.
17. DC Benny – Old man doing tai chi in the park.
16. Tony Baker – #Monopolyslumlord
15. Joe Zimmerman – Who smiles at a wolf?
14. Aida Rodriguez – Teaching her daughter how to deal with bullies.
13. Erin Jackson – Met the worst person ever through online dating.
12. Lachlan Patterson – Very gay-looking.
11. Karlous Miller – The lives of the Hispanic people in California.
10. Nikki Carr – Knew she would not grow up to be sexy as a child.
9. Lachlan Patterson – Video games designed by women.
8. Tracey Ashley – Oprah Winfrey in the Underground Railroad.
7. Monroe Martin – The definition of foster care.
6. Rocky LaPorte – The piece of crap zoo.
5. Mike Vecchione – Online private detective school.
4. Joe Machi – #breadsticks
3. Jimmy Shubert – #DrinkyTimeSquirrel
2. Rod Man – Self check out.
1. Joe Machi – The perfect bank password.
- I won’t go too much into the preview for next week’s challenge, since obviously Rob and I will be covering it in more detail once the episode airs. But all I know is that I need to get a copy of Welcome Back, Roscoe Jenkins in my hands sometime between now and Thursday.
So there you have it. A two-hour special that will probably take two days to read. I started watching the Top 100 jokes special and realized that there wasn’t anything, well, special about it. But overall, I was happy with what we got to see last Sunday. Though some editing choices were strange, we really got to know these eight comics and, though we won’t be picking the winner as a nation, it’s nice to know more about these people whom I assume will get ravaged by the critics as their NBC show goes through the poop chute. But looking to the near future, we’ll be back next week to recap who has the dancing skills and interviewing prowess to go tit-for-tat with Ellen, and who will be eliminated and declared as funny as Gallaghers 1 and 2.