A few weeks ago we published a story called “the controversy and the truth.” Today, let’s restate those facts. The controversy? There definitely was controversy.

The truth? Last Comic Standing is still a very funny show.

Why You Should Watch LCS

The wildcard function is wonderful. Allowing one of the five comics who lost head to head challenges to return is great. We love second chances! Maybe we will reclaim the animated Todd Glass (or the real life version of him) or the droll and polite Cro-Magnon Jay London. This diffuses one of the criticisms--the most interesting people were already voted off the show. That means Jay, Todd, and the treacherous queen Ant.

And producers saw, during the first show in “the castle,” that the contestants weren’t going to just sit around and be funny with each other. Last summer, Tess, Rich Vos, Cory Kahaney, and Dave Mordal were hysterical together just sitting around, staging bizarre bathtub scenes and weird games of hide and go seek. Instead of making a show out of that, producers have programmed the comics into specific challenges and events, more like The Apprentice than last year’s Last Comic Standing. And the change is quite watchable.

What You Might Not Like About LCS

Though somewhat corrected this year, we are tired of hearing the same jokes over and over. Comics who want to win are reciting their best bits. For some of them, we heard those same jokes at the auditions.

The repetition is killing the standup portion of the TV program. The good news is national audience gets to vote from the final six and on from there. That stops a mediocre comic with only one good comedy set from winning, like last year’s champion Dat Phan. Perhaps an audience in Glendale, CA who hasn’t seen the show would like that one comic set, but the national audience knows better.

Another sore spot it stage fright at the head to head competitions, even from people who have been doing this for years. Clearly, Alonzo Bodden, John Heffron, Gary Gulman, and Tammy Pescatelli didn’t freeze, but we saw onstage meltdowns from Todd Glass and Jay London, not personally but in their ability to connect with the audience and deliver material. Todd chose the wrong material for his face off, and Jay just seemed to lose confidence. On the Jay Leno show, Jay London also appeared to be unsettled and the audience was routing for him. Hopefully, he will have it worked through by Tuesday.

What Has Changed

Everyone now knows their names. Unlike The Apprentice or Amazing Race, where the everyday people go back to mundane lives, in Last Comic Standing, people with talent get a boost in their career. On message boards, people are excited about buying tickets to see Dave Mordal, Rob Cantrell, Alonzo Bodden, or Dan Naturman. More like American Idol, these folks are selling great numbers for their comedy CDs and personal appearances.

What We Know From Our Comics

Even Gary Gulman, the guy who was 1/3 of the controversy, turns out to be a very funny guy. Through two head to head standup comedy challenges, he has proven himself week after week to have new material, find different ways to amuse his audience, and genuinely act cleverly in boring situations. The NBC website quotes Gulman about his college years. “I played football at Boston College. It's a Catholic school. I had a nickname there: Jew."

But here is the twist, as is so necessary in repeat versions of used reality TV formats. The five comics who were voted off the show—Jay London, Todd Glass, Ant, Corey Holcomb, and Bonnie McFarlane, came back to choose who would be in the head to head challenge.

The other finalists are also worth watching. Elfin Kathleen Madigan twice proved herself to be a great communicator, once to children and another time to a focus group, coming in second in a TV-pitch competition. The NBC website lists her chiding women’s gymnastics announcers. “They're like, 'Uh, this next gymnast, she's eighteen years-old, she weighs thirty-four pounds, Bob. Very heavy, I don't see a medal happening.’"

Alonzo Bodden is a favorite of others in the “final five,” who dubbed him a “heavy hitter.” His edgy humor, though destined some day to tick off women viewer/ voters, is a fresh perspective that is so funny it stings you with truth as you laugh at the absurdity, with his take no prisoners attitudes about women and dating. On his website, you can hear a routine. He says he works for the USO. When the USO sent him to Kuwait, “that was sad. Two millions Arabs and not one 7-11.”

The other two finalists, so far, are Tammy Pescatelli (doesn’t her name mean fishwife in Italian?) and John Heffron, who makes people giggle with his deadpan delivery and broad physical humor. Heffron is comparable to eliminated comic Todd Glass. If you wind up Heffron to go very, very fast, you have Glass.

My hopes linger on for Glass because he looks just like my dentist. And he is very funny. Give this man a sitcom! He starts his act by a warm up joke about his physical appearance, claiming he is the “secret love child of Mel Gibson and Fred Flintstone.” Though wonderfully funny and ridiculous, research has shown that is at least the second version of the joke. In 1996, his joke was he was a cross between Flintstone and Oliver North. Glass goes from self-deprecation to a manic description of wild ways to make the world simpler to navigate.

Another favorite eliminated comic is Jay London, whose long, wild hairdo and naked, muscle-bound arms coming out of falling off overalls define his look. Jay also begins with drawing attention to his bodily form, claiming “You might recognize
me, I'm the fourth guy from the left on the evolutionary chart.” London goes on to rattle out one liners, with interstitial comments such as “Thank you.” and “It’s almost over.” In essence, he gives his audience a beat before delivering the next joke.

The others are Corey Holcomb aka “The ghetto Dr. Phil” (“"I'm extra ghetto, if I do say so myself. I got two six-year-olds and they ain't twins”), Ant (the former flight attendant who delighted a tour bus with phony star home sightings), and silly Bonnie McFarlane, “"If I got a boob job, I would definitely show some restraint. I would just get one done.")

Next up: Reflections on the Wildcard Show

For those of you who can’t get enough of these comics, go to these links. You can tell which comics are getting all the bookings! It is also interesting to see who they are teaming with.:

Alonzo Bodden

http://www.alonzobodden.com/home.html

Alonzo’s book “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/5556205841/ref%3Dpd%5Fsl%5Faw%5Falx-jeb-9- 1%5Fbook%5F5842666%5F1/103-3791241-6079069

Appearing with Jay London and Gary Gulman at Caroline’s NYC August 13-15

http://www.carolines.com/AUGUST04.html

Appearing with Jay London and Gary Gulman at Tampa Improv August 19-22

http://www.tampaimprov.com/comedianinfo.asp?comedian=259



John Heffron

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/john.shtml

http://www.johnheffron.com/2004/index.php

In Chattanooga August 26-29 http://www.thecomedycatch.com/coming.htm

In Atlanta with Tammy Pescatelli Sept. 9-12 http://www.punchline.com/schedule/

http://www.jekyllandhyderock.com/bios_heffron.htm



Todd Glass

http://www.tvguide.com/news/insider/article.asp

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/todd.shtml

http://citypaper.net/articles/122696/article057.shtml

http://entertainment.excite.com/celebgossip/tvginsider/id/07_06_2004_2.html

Brea Improv July 28 thru August 1 w/ Corey Holcomb tickets http://www.symfonee.com/improv/brea/comedians/Bio.aspx?Uid={2ed85047-4e0c-11d5-8737- 0001026c3d97}

Chicago Zanies August 20-22 http://www.chicago.zanies.com/calendar.ez?MonthView='2004-08-01'

Seattle Giggles Sept. 17-18 http://www.gigglescomedyclub.com/now-appearing.html



Jay London

http://www.tvguide.com/news/insider/040720c.asp

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/jay.shtml

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365061/

Appearing with Alonzo Bodden and Gary Gulman at Caroline’s NYC August 13-15

http://www.carolines.com/AUGUST04.html

Appearing with Alonzo Bodden and Gary Gulman at Tampa Improv August 19-22

http://www.tampaimprov.com/comedianinfo.asp?comedian=259



Kathleen Madigan http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/kathleen.shtml

Tempe Improv now appearing http://www.tempeimprov.com/



Gary Gulman

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/gary.shtml

http://www.garygulman.com/

Appearing with Jay London and Alonzo Bodden at Caroline’s NYC August 13-15

http://www.carolines.com/AUGUST04.html

Appearing with Jay London and Alonzo Bodden at Tampa Improv August 19-22

http://www.tampaimprov.com/comedianinfo.asp?comedian=259



Ant

http://www.tvguide.com/news/insider/article.asp

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/ant.shtml



Corey Holcomb

http://www.goldstarevents.com/events/event/512.html

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/corey.shtml

Orlando Improv July 23 to 25 http://www.symfonee.com/Improv/Orlando/comedians/Bio.aspx?Uid={f1a89142-3e5b-11d5-8737-0001026c3d97}

Brea Improv July 28 thru August 1 w/ Todd Glass tickets http://www.symfonee.com/improv/brea/comedians/Bio.aspx?Uid={2ed85047-4e0c-11d5-8737- 0001026c3d97}



Bonnie McFarlane

http://www.tvguide.com/news/insider/article.asp

http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/bonnie.shtml



Tammy Pescatelli http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Last_Comic_Standing/showcase/tammy.shtml

In Chattanooga August 12-15 http://www.thecomedycatch.com/coming.htm

With Dat Phan in SF August 19-22 http://www.cobbscomedyclub.com/calendar.html

In Atlanta with John Heffron Sept. 9-12 http://www.punchline.com/schedule/



Ralphie May

http://www.symfonee.com/Improv/SanJose/home/Index.aspx



Dan Naturman

NYC July 23 & 24 http://www.newyorkcomedyclub.com/scheduleny.htm

August 20 & 21 Boca Raton http://www.newyorkcomedyclub.com/schedulebr.htm