Tag Archives: Jr

Who Will Be The Last Comic Standing?

And then there were five.

(Advance Spoiler Warning:  I will update this column tonight after the winner is announced and list the results in a tag at the bottom of the article).

For someone who despises reality television, I have really enjoyed Mondays this summer thanks to Last Comic Standing. I guess in my defense I’m really a fan of stand-up, period, and that’s what this season has centered upon. I was thrilled that they decided to excise the “house” and the fabricated/edited drama that goes on behind the scenes. That’s the part of these shows that is so false; so scripted and staged and edited that it’s anything but real.

There were exceptions, of course – anytime a camera is on Todd Glass pretty much anything can happen, and he did liven up his season of the show by a mile. But how many times can you see a comic sitting with a pad and pencil trying to come up with material, especially since the cameras and lights following him around is about as conducive to creative thought as a rabbit punch?

Last week the five finalists ran the gauntlet for supposedly the last time. If that’s indeed true, I’m not certain how they are going to build the drama over two hours tonight, although I am excited that the judges (Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero, Greg Giraldo) will perform. Kindler and Giraldo are among my favorites, and I’m excited to see Leggero rock the microphone since I’m only familiar with her from sketch comedy. I’ve been a bit harsh about her contributions – in fairness, the judging in general has been pretty lame – so I’m happy to laud her comedic skills if she decides to flex them. Also guest-performing are Tom Papa (a great stand-up unfortunately slumming on the abysmal Marriage Ref) and Kathy Griffin (no doubt whittling her routine to get past the censors). 

Last season’s winner, Iliza Shlesinger, is also slated to perform, and I’ll try to have an open mind for her as well. I thought her Comedy Central special was weak, and she plows the same shallow ground that Rachel Feinstein did this season. Hopefully she will rise to the occasion and bring some strong material to a nationwide audience.

Last week Ron White was a guest performer, and although I had heard just about all of the material before, his timing is so impeccable that I enjoy the jokes even when I know the punchline. Again, I’m not certain why they include guest segments, but more stand-up comedy on television can only be a good thing.

Jonathan Thymius was finally voted off the show, a feat I was starting to think was impossible. I think his loopy, disoriented style started to wear thin and possibly his material did as well. But the fact that a guy who resembles the bastard son of George Goebel (in appearance and cadence) made it to the top six shows me that anything can happen.

I’ve been hard on Felipe Esparza but I thought last week was his best set; he took a bit about coming out of the closet at a family dinner and milked it about as well as you can. I still have him in the lower region though, just ahead of Roy Wood, Jr. who probably had his weakest performance. Second place in my mind is a virtual tie betweek Mike and Myq. Mike DeStefano doesn’t hit on every joke but when he connects it’s a home run; Myq Kaplan’s clever wordplay and well constructed set is consistently funny and sharp.

But the man to beat, in my opinion, is Tommy Johnagin. He’s poised, he’s hilarious, and he’s as strong a writer as he is a performer. I like that he can do a quick 1-2 set up and punch line as adeptly as he can weave a few great lines into a longer bit. His sets have gotten stronger from week to week, and even when he launched a line that divided the audience he was able to dig his way out of it. A couple of the comics got lengthy ovations when they took the stage and his might have been the most spirited.

As in past years, I think a couple of the best comics never made the cut; I’m convinced that Kirk Fox and especially Kurt Metzger would have been great in the final five. But if Kaplan, DeStefano or Johnagin wind up winning – and that’s a 60% possibility – they would instantly become the best comedian the show has ever honored. And with two hundred thousand dollars in cash and a fifty-thousand dollar development deal, also the richest.

I’ll update this essay tonight after the announcements.

It’s over. If you want to know the results, click here.

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Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Reviews

T.G.I.F. – Ten Trailers of Terror

 

Screaming woman

The Exorcist trailer – Saw this in a college class and then had to walk home across campus in dense fog. Didn’t sleep a wink that night, nor did most of my friends. Yes, it was a Jesuit college.

Halloween trailer – I saw this screened at a NACA convention in a small classroom with about twenty people. At a critical point in the movie – when you could hear a pin drop – the guy next to me goosed the girl in front of him and she rocketed skyward with a bloodcurdling scream, which made most of us soil ourselves. Then a walk back across a foggy campus where the film distributor hired a Michael Meyers lookalike to drop from a tree. (I’m still washing that pair of shorts.)

The Blair Witch Project trailer – The very last scene makes no sense if you didn’t pay close attention in the beginning. If you did pay attention, it will scare the shit out of you. Kudos to the creators who took a shoestring budget and made one of the best viral movies ever, with special thanks for making that scary ending so subtle. Hope the creators of Paranormal Activity are slipping these guys a few bucks. 

House on Haunted Hill trailer – Where I grew up in NYC there was an afternoon matinee called Million Dollar Movie that aired from around 4:30 until 6:00. Occasionally they would show the same film Monday through Friday. I remember watching this film every day for five straight days and still jumping ten feet in the air every time scene with the “floating woman” came by…god, that still creeps me out! Starring Vincent Price at his smarmiest and featuring the always willing to chew scenery Elisha Cook, Jr. They have remade this movie several times but nothing touches the original.

Session 9 trailer – Contemporary horror movies are mostly gorefests. This was a thinking person’s movie, where the horror was deeper than any axe blade could cut. I thought David Caruso might even have resurrected his film career with this one, but I guess I was wrong. Subtle and pensive but very, very creepy.

The Shining trailer – Ever watched someone go insane right before your eyes? (Married people, step back.) Jack Nicholson channeling palpable dread… tempered only by the fact that I wanted to kill Shelley Duvall myself. Redrum!

Psycho trailer – Alfred Hitchcock’s movie trailers are better than some people’s movies. The screeching score was as much a part of the fright as the visuals. A landmark classic.

Rosemary’s Baby trailer – The scariest films are sometimes the ones with the most plausible characters (apart from the whole Satanic thing, of course). What brilliance to cast condo dwellers as the evil ones? Conspiratorial horror. I never looked at Ruth Gordon the same way again (even in Harold and Maude I wondered if she would snap Bud Cort‘s neck and eat him).

Night of the Living Dead trailer – Yep, no big names, cheesey by modern standards, but at the time one of the creepiest movies ever made. You don’t spawn that many sequels and imitators by sucking!

Phantasm trailer – Speaking of cheeseball, some of the sets and (lack of) costumes will make some think it’s a lame movie, but when The Tall Man enters the screen, all bets are off. The last scene of this movie is one of the scariest moments on film. And has there ever been a better horror movie name than Angus Scrimm? Ice cream trucks, ponytails and the sphere.

The Sphere

Mental Floss

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