Tag Archives: Kurt Metzger

(T)rump Roast

What do Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and Donald Trump have in common?

A. They are dumb blondes…even if it’s fake blond.

B. Their 15 minutes expired 15 years ago.

C. They are more famous for being famous than for actual worthy accomplishments.

D. They are how low the bar has sunk for “celebrities” at Comedy Central Roasts.

E. All of the above.

Which doesn’t mean that I’m not tuning in to watch; when truly funny people like Anthony Jeselnik and Whitney Cummings are going to savage easy targets, I’m game. But not only has the roastee gone down hill, but the dais now features the brain-dead (The Situation) and the living dead (Larry King) where giants one sat. Sadly, ace roaster Greg Giraldo is no longer with us, but where is Nick DiPaolo? Where is Colin Quinn? Where is Norm MacDonald? Where is…oh wait, I know where Gilbert Gottfried is

Maybe they were busy. Maybe they didn’t want to go slumming. But here’s how The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump did go…

I think Seth MacFarlane is a perfect host; he’s got a great voice and really knows how to deliver a joke. Even if they’re ones he didn’t write, like perhaps “If his plan is to fire everyone he’s two years too late” or “He has such a big ego, when he bangs a supermodel he closes his eyes and imagines he’s jerking off.” With David Feldman and Jesse Joyce writing copy, at least there were good zingers for those qualified to deliver them. He’s also unafraid to go there, like feigning retardation while talking to the Jersey Shore mook.

Of course that was half the problem – the dais. Larry King was horrible, stumbling through lines he looked like he was seeing for the first time, and giggling at every one with that pedophile heh-heh-heh that is beyond creepy. “Lisa Lumpa Jelly“, he snarked…wow. But he seemed like Rodney Dangerfield next to the Ab Man (I’m not typing his name again), who was so inept that the crowd either booed or sat in total silence until Jeffrey Ross had to go up to the podium and beg for mercy. Granted, he’s not a comedian…but then why the fuck is he up there trying to be one? Is he banging Trump’s daughter? The Proactiv commercial during the break was funnier.

Marlee Matlin played the role of the proper girl who gets filthy-mouthed for the event; this is now a staple of every roast. And she was a good sport, and funny – using an interpreter to speak for her (when the camera picked him up earlier, I thought he was a Barack Obama look-alike who was going to engage in a skit with Trump!). But when he quit in mock exasperation, Gilbert Gottfried came out to take his place and got a huge ovation before tearing the room a new one. Obviously filmed before the Tsunami Twitter incident, Gilbert proved that nothing was ever sacred by saying Trump had defiled New York so much he is known as the “twentieth terrorist“.

Lisa Lampanelli’s “I love the brothers” routine is beyond tired but she did get off a couple of good lines. To Trump about his hair: “What do you have to say to a barber to get that haircut? I fucked your daughter?Snoop Dogg, always cool, got off a keeper when he riffed on Trump running for President by saying if he won it wouldn’t be the first time he kicked a black family out of their house. More consistently solid was Whitney Cummings, who peppered the stage with jabs on her first few jokes but then finished in a flurry of uppercuts and right crosses. By comparison, she had the biggest balls on the stage.

The clear winners of the evening were Jeffrey Ross and Anthony Jeselnik. Great to see Ross absolutely kill; he had the line of the night (to Trump: “Are you having a good time? Yeah? Tell your face…“). And Jeselnik deadpanned his way through one winner after another, from the simply clever (“the sense of humor to embarrass yourself on Saturday Night Live…and the casino business“) to the brilliantly subversive (“Marlee Matlin…are you even listening to me?”).

Theer were a few heartfelt mentions about Greg Giraldo, and he was sorely missed, although Jeselnik scored well enough to be considered for the role of roast assassinOr maybe they can feature Jesse Joyce, Giraldo’s writing partner and a hilarious dude in his own right (who also wrote some of the better lines on this show). Get some fresh blood up on the dais – quick thinkers with a ruthless streak like Joe DeRosa, Joe Materese and Kurt Metzger. You are filming this in New York, right? I hear some comics hang out there.

Hopefully this will wind up on DVD where some of the funnier or more cringe-worthy elements can be seen in all their glory. Most of the shows have been available, with few exceptions – the Joan Rivers set is a notable omission. Too bad – there were some tremendous punches thrown at her, and she returned hellfire. Much more impressive than Trump reading the teleprompter.

And to borrow a line from Mr. Ross…”Greg Giraldo, roast in peace.”

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Upcoming Comedy Releases

We’re in the midst of another stand-up comedy renaissance, although you’d never know it by the recent Grammy nominations. But as one who eagerly anticipates every comedy album release, I was thrilled with 2010’s bounty and 2011 is shaping up to be even better with first releases from great new comics as well as the return of a couple of old favorites.

Looks like television has raised the bar for 2011 – IFC has picked up Mr. Show, The Ben Stiller Show and The Onion News to add to an already great lineup that includes Arrested Development, Undeclared and Freaks And Geeks. The new Comedy Central Presents series launches in mid-January and John Oliver’s Stand Up returns in March. Might have to get another DVR!

So here are Ten Upcoming Comedy Releases to get excited about. And keep your eyes peeled at Stand Up! Records, Comedy Central, Uproar Entertainment, Rooftop Comedy , AST and other fine labels committed to bringing great comedy to your front door…

01) Patrice O’Neal Elephant In The Room…comedy special taped in November and will be available in January. One of the funniest guys on the planet and a very overdue release!

02) Nick Griffin Bring Out The Monkey…thrilled that he cut a second album after all this time; he nails the angst of frustrated desperation as well as anyone ever has.

03) Daniel Tosh Happy Thoughts…I don’t follow Tosh 2.0 but both of his prior releases were hilarious. Great presentation and sarcasm; I can’t wait!

04) Kurt Metzger – (Title TBD)…I’ve been pimping this guy to anyone who will listen; anyone who saw Last Comic Standing knows he got screwed over. Maybe the album on this list I’m most excited about.

05) Paul F. TompkinsYou Should Have Told Me…his first DVD and sure to be an undoubtedly surreal experience. I’m still laughing at Freak Wharf, let alone his amazing guest stint on Community last week.

06) Natasha Leggero – (Title TBD)…I gave her a rough ride when covering Last Comic Standing but ate my words when she got a chance to do standup on the last episode. Check out the second Tonight Show clip on her website; the album will surely be a killer.

07) Louis CKHilarious…how prolific is this guy? Louie got picked up for another season and might have been the best show of 2010; Hilarous is coming out in January and he’s already touring with a new show, Word.

08) Whitney Cummings Money Shot…loved her first album, one of the best comedy releases of 2009. She’s fearless and raw, and this new show is funny as hell.

09) Nick Kroll Thank You Very Cool…scene stealing Kroll will no doubt have some blisteringly inappropriate stand-up plus feature some of his bizarre characters.

10) Norm MacDonald Norm MacDonald Stand-Up Special…March 2011, proving once and for all that there is a God.

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Last Comic Standing: Last Thoughts

Felipe Esparza, Last Comic Standing (but not here)

They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Oh, well. Not like my tastes and the consensus of the multiple-voting American public line up much. Top Ten singles? Top movies? Best selling books? Nope, not in a long while. Shouldn’t be a disappointment when it happens again, but this time they had the right guy in the final two. And then…pffffttt

So before we tuck this one in for the season, a few final thoughts: 

Nobody unlikable in the final five and congrats to Felipe Esparza, who seems like a nice guy and hopefully will improve over time. 

With a vote-for-one-of-the-final-five format, did Myq Kaplan and Tommy Johnagin split votes they would have likely easily gotten in a head-to-head “final two” contest? 

How the hell did Myq Kaplan finish fifth after the prior week’s sets? 

Apologies to Natasha Leggero, who I was pretty rough on all season for not doing much besides laughing and looking smoking hot. She came out last night and did a great set, better than the other two judges who I normally like a lot better. 

Initially I cringed when Greg Giraldo broke out the vintage “underwear outside the pants” routine; I wondered (1) did I black out for a minute and go back in time?  and (2)Now whose resume “ain’t all up to date”? But another viewer pointed out that he probably never did that routine on primetime TV before, and he even tossed in a self-deprecating comment (which I missed) beforehand. 

Andy Kindler was hilarious, but I understand that some people think he’s too quirky to be funny. I do not envy those people

Seeing Kurt Metzger’s great Micheal Jackson joke again was worth sitting through the two hours for. Okay, not really – that was a long two hours with lots of unnecessary padding and lame guest appearances. But Metzger should have been in the top ten at the very least, and that might have been one of the funniest jokes all season. At least he got a rubber chicken, which is more than comics two through five went home with. 

Liked the final comments from the comics who lost – Roy Wood Jr. paid props to the road comics, Kaplan was classy, and Mike DeStefano’s parting words were classic, as expected. 

Did that $50K development deal (and the show’s past reputation for subterfuge) mean that the judges (read: behind the scenes network producers) wanted someone they could build a sitcom around? I think they wanted a person who people like, talent aside, safe as milk. A sitcom candidate who will play well between the coasts. If that’s true, they hit their target. 

Do I believe the results were controlled? Of course, but then again I don’t think any of these “contest” shows are left to chance. 

But despite a summer of head shrugs and suspicion, if they’re back next year I’m sure I will be, too. When all was said and done, I got to see a few people I like that I had never seen before, and many good comics got national airtime. Win/Win. 

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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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Last Comic Standing – The Other Five

 
Yep, that’s gotta be how Kurt Metzger feels. 

Are you kidding me, Last Comic Standing? Just when I thought you had gotten past the asinine policy of “casting a reality show” in favor of finding the funniest comics, you pull another Dan Naturman on me. 

Naturman, you’ll remember, was the contestant on the second season of LCS who was passed over for the finals even though the on-air judges all voted for him. Turns out that there were more people behind the scenes – a voting majority, no less – and they thought it was more important to have an interesting mix of personalities on the show. It was an embarrassment at the time and still a stain on the program’s reputation to this day. 

So what happens last night? Metzger comes out and absolutely kills…easily within the top 2-3 responses from both audience and judges – and he doesn’t make the cut? WTF?

Of course, none of the judges looked surprised or said a word. In fact, the announcement process is bizarre in itself, as pre-assigned groups of five or six comics walk downstage and only one is chosen. When I saw that Roy Wood Jr. and Metzger was in the same group, I was dumfounded, as the two were easily the best performers on the program last night. 

Video: Kurt Metzger: Hilarious Crimes

And while Craig Robinson is openly mocking the banality of the role of host, the judges continue to coddle the contestants; I’ve learned that “you are telling personal stories and you should go with that” and/or “you are very unique/original/funny” is code for “make sure you pack as soon as you get offstage“. I realize that some of these people work together and no one wants to crucify a colleague onstage, but some of these comics just aren’t that good

Some went beyond that, bombing and going down in flames. Guy Torry is a seasoned actor and comedian but chose to riff on Hillary Clinton and – are you sitting downMonica Lewinsky. (I don’t know who is in charge of the calendar at the Torry house, but they should be fired.) Torry’s set pretty much sucked, but as the judges tried to be professional while telling him he was capable of doing better, he became argumentative, dismissive and insulting. Nice strategy, idiot!  He’s lucky that the ratings for LCS are minimal or we would have been watching career suicide. The only funny thing Torry did all night was come out for the final announcements with his coat on and his duffel bag over his shoulder. 

Guy Torry's career, as seen from space

And weren’t all of these people supposedly from the bigger groups last week? Either there are some continuity errors or several of them were so bland that I don’t even remember them after a couple of weeks. You’d think I’d remember a name like Fortune Feimster, for example, who plays off her unfortunate resemblance to Jonah Hill to good effect. Or Maronzio Vance, who barely registered last night in a short set. I want to like Nikki Glaser but she did another variation on the abortion joke she did at the auditions and it seems like she plows the same narrow ground. I’m a longtime fan of  Laurie Kilmartin, a great writer, but I’ve seen her do better and I was a little disappointed that she used her old routine about her Russian boyfriend.

Jason Nash, Carmen Lynch, Cristela Alonzo, Nick Cobb, Claudia Cogan and most of the others were okay; a chuckle or two but fairly pedestrian material. Two exceptions: Brian McKim has been doing stand-up for thirty years, and everything from his posture to his cadence screams old-school comic, but his delivery is great and he is memorable. Jacob Siroc wouldn’t have made my cut either but following the Torry debacle and opening with “okay, that wasn’t awkward” broke the ice; he later ad-libbed a “Google” call-back from Torry’s disastrous rant. He looks like a cross between Tom Kenny and Jake Johansen; in other words, he’s got the look down. 

But I’m starting to think something fishy is going on. Again. 

For example, comics are supposed to be judged on what they are doing that night – not how their career stacks up or how they did elsewhere. Yet several references were made to other performances; Andy Kindler told Jerry Rocha that he loved seeing him at another show, and Natasha Leggero went absolutely Paula Abdul on Feimster.  

Neither made the cut, but one of the finalists seemed to get a push. James Adomian had a mediocre set but then Craig Robinson and the judges asked him to do impressions at the post-set review…and then rated the impressions! And I can’t explain the vibe I got when Kilmartin‘s name was called, but it was as if she knew making the finals was a fait accompli

Their five:  James Adomian, Laurie Kilmartin, Maronzio Vance, Roy Wood. Jr and Tommy Johnagin

Mine : Kurt Metzger, Roy Wood Jr., Tommy Johnagin, Taylor Williamson and Mike Vecchione

And then there were ten. If I had to handicap, I’d bet on Mike DiStefano, Myq Kaplan and Tommy Johnagin for the trifecta. We’ll see what happens.

— 

 

R.I.P. Harvey Fuqua, Moonglow and Motown mover/shaker.

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Last Comic Standing

Last Comic Standing might be worthy after all.

Thankfully, the format of the show seems to have improved. Reportedly there will be no “comic house” or oddball challenges this year, just rounds of stand-up and voting. I never enjoyed the forced drama of the “house”; it’s gimmicks like that which makes me find reality tv revolting. And while the challenges sometimes forced comics to think on their feet, sometimes they were so absurd that they only made everyone – participants and viewers – uncomfortable.

Craig Robinson, as host, does what Jay Mohr and other prior MCs failed to do – let the comics be the stars of the show. If we really are about to see twenty or thirty comics who have bubbled to the surface we don’t need a five-minute routine from the host. Robinson playfully teases the waiting crowd outside the door and has occasional post-audition banter with a comic. Short and sweet.

To say that the judges’ panel has vastly improved is an understatement. Ross Mark and Bob Read, the qualifying judges on previous shows, were occasionally funny, but mostly came off as tired and cranky. But the trio chosen for this season – Greg Giraldo, Andy Kindler and Natasha Leggero – are consistently funny.

Kindler is one of the most underrated comics working today; he’s subversive, whiny and hilarious with the ability to play broad or subtle. Giraldo has been a favorite of mine since Tough Crowd, and although he shines on Comedy Central Roasts, he never seems to get his due – hopefully this will change. And although Leggero could just sit there and look smoking hot, her turns on Chelsea Lately prove that she can run with the big dogs.

If there is a weakness in the three hours broadcast to date, unfortunately it’s the comedians. There have been some laughs, sure, but very few have distinguished themselves so far, and I’m hoping that the longer routines in the semi-finals will let them shine. Some of them are familiar faces who have already scored album releases and/or televised specials. But that’s no guarantee – some have made it to the next stage (Kirk Fox, Laurie Kilmartin, Shane Mauss, David Feldman), others were cut (Jimmy Dore, Cathy Ladman, Jim David – who has a new album out this month).

My favorites from tonight – Jesse Joyce, Mike DeStefano, Tommy Johnagin, Roy Wood Jr., Kurt Metzger. Last week’s nods go to Kirk Fox, Chris Pope, Jonathan Stymius, Rachel Feinstein and David Feldman. Next week – the rest of the New York auditions. Hope they saved some ringers!

Last Comic Standing wiki.

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