“Nice work, whores!” or Last Comic Standing Week 3

July 1, 2010 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

It’s Week 3 on Last Comic Standing, kids! We’re wrapping up the auditions and getting ready to move onto the meat-and-potatoes of the show. I can stop writing abstract essays and actually dig into the contestants. Oh wait, that’s next week. Oh well, let the abstract essay begin!

I doubt anyone noticed, but I wasn’t here last week because I was covering the LA Film Festival for my day job. It was a great time, seeing 26 movies in 10 days. Met some really incredible people, saw some fantastic new talent, and ate a whole lot of really bad food. Now, as a movie geek, it’s not hard to get me to sit down and watch a movie (or three), so film festivals are kind of where I feel most at-home. The other main reason I love attending them, is the overwhelming positivity these people have for what they do.

I live in LA. Most of the conversations I have are about making movies and writing movies. Everyone goes on about the anemic spec market, pre-branding, pre-release awareness, the hot actor/actress, etc. It’s all about how impossible it is to make a movie, about all the obstacles that stand in your way. It’s all about the ‘No’. Which makes sense, because you’ll hear far more ‘No’ than ‘Yes’ – but that’s okay, because you only need one ‘Yes’. The people at film festivals, predominantly, made their own ‘Yes’. They decided that making their movie is not for someone else to decide. Technology has gotten to a point where anyone can make a movie, and for better or worse they are! Spending ten days with people who shoot movies in eight days with 1,000 pounds, it’s downright inspiring!

But one thing I’ve always envied musicians is that they can just go out and play a show and raise awareness and maybe even some money. This is not an option for filmmakers. One might argue that they could go stage a play, but one would be missing the point of filmmaking. Stand-up comics are the closest to this we can really get. They go up and perform their set, and they live or die based on the strength of their words and how well they deliver them. Now that I think of it, they’ve tried making reality shows about filmmakers a couple of time now, with pretty much universally poor results. Which actually aligns with a key rule of screenwriting: Keep It Simple, Stupid. One person getting onstage and performing – people can connect. One person hiring a bunch of other people to help realize their vision – people can’t connect. It’s just not as easy to empathize with someone making hiring and firing decisions.

This week’s batch of have-nots included some real talent. Carmen Lynch might not have the world’s greatest stage presence, but I’d be very surprised if she didn’t end up on a writing staff somewhere. Her bit about getting an egg back into a chicken was one of the soundest bits of comedy writing I’ve heard thus far. Married people typically tell married jokes, and there are really only so many married jokes in the world. Traci Skeene didn’t reinvent any wheels, but managed to make them funny through delivery. Sadly, she didn’t make it past the Showcase. Myq Kaplan did, however! A stand-up comic who’s been gigging away for years now, traveling between colleges and scraping together just enough to get by his wife, Myq is a testament to hard work. His solid writing and stage presence seems to come from years of hard work and experimentation. I hope more people take notice of what hard work can yield.

Another comic that made an impression was Mike Vecchione, a strapping young man with a solid bit about cops being largely a group of dickheads (always a sentiment that’ll endear a person to me). Most comics come from a place of pain and disillusionment. They talk about the pain of being picked last in gym and life. Of trying to roll 300 while their peers were rounding second. Vecchione talked about going into ‘roid rage, but with no small degree of pathos. I think it’s one of the things I like most about this show, the way it shows that suffering transcends location and socio-economic background. Yes, I’m a bit of a downer. But I really do love that I’ve heard so many people, upon getting their ticket to the Semi-Finals, exclaim “I’ve never won anything else in my life!” It’s a beautiful thing to watch someone succeed when history and math tell them they won’t. Traci Skeene might not have made it to the Semi-Finals, but her husband, Brian McKim, did – and the joy on her face as she hugged him and told him how proud she was of him was amazing to watch. Someone asked her what she was going to do now, and she replied “I’m going to iron his shirts, because he’s going to be on TV.” And there wasn’t a note of irony or bitterness. Just love, man. On primetime television, no less.

 -By Adam Stovall

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