The season premiere of “Last Comic Standing” kicked-off with a two-hour special in Los Angeles Monday June 7th.
Hundreds of comics showed up for the auditions and only a handful were picked by the judges to move on to semifinals in Hollywood, California.
This year’s host is Craig Robinson, most commonly known for his role in “The Office.” Robinson brings and extra dose of wit and charm to the show this season along with the all-star panel of comic judges which includes Greg Giraldo, Natasha Leggero, and Andy Kindler. The first hour was filled with multiple-time auditioners and comics that made fun of their ethnicity.
Out of all the comics who auditioned in LA, 18 total were chosen to move onto the semifinals.
The first featured comic of the night was Maronzio Vance, a contestant who also auditioned season two. His performance was direct and emotionless, but he took the judges by surprise and made their night. Leggero already claimed him a winner with enthusiasm during her critiques. He moved on to the semis.
Felipe Esparza was the next contestant who also made it to the semis. He reminisced about how he and his friends get together occasionally for “joke nights,” tossing joke ideas and mini-skits back and forth. The judges were initially a bit skeptical, but passed him onto the next round where he wowed the audience.
Kirk Fox, a lanky, spacey guy who looked like he wasn’t sure if he remembered where he was, ended up being a hit with the judges.
“I don’t think I’m cut out for this show. My brain just shuts down,” Fox said.
The audience went wild for him in the second round and he ended up getting the golden ticket to the semifinals.
Next up was Laurie Kilmartin, a quirky single mother who claimed Britney Spears was her parenting hero because she lost custody of her kids.
Lil 'Rel from Chicago wins the award for “persistence” among the nights competitors; coming back to audition for the third time. His dreams finally came true this year by making it on to the semis.
Contestant Marc Ryan rubbed Judge Natasha Leggero the wrong way by disrespecting and disregarding her. “Now I know why Paula Abdul was always high on pills,” Leggaro said.
“Watch out now!” Kevin Small of Dallas showed up for the LA auditions and ended up being one of the only comics who did not hit it off with the audience in round two. He got the judges attention during the initial audition with his twangy country accent and crude Texas humor. This dude became a dud however when he drilled jokes about dinosaurs on stage for the live show.
Taylor Williamson stood out as the nasal nerdy character of the night. He’s been doing comedy for years and was among the list who moved on to the semifinals.
Day two was full of people who thought wearing outrageous outfits was the way to becoming America’s next comedian sweetheart. Clowns in all costumes tall and small appeared with high hopes but were shut down right away. The judges were drawn to the comics who kept it “real.” In comes a girl who turned heads, not just for her jokes, but her feminine charm as well. Comic Rachel Feinstein stole the judges and audiences hearts with her material about men and how they respond to her and her female friends. She joined the list of semifinalists.
The next woman who stole the show had quite the opposite approach; direct, blunt, and to the point. Paula Bel’s dry humor made her stand out as the “in your face” feminist whose jokes centered around woman having too many kids and the misrepresentation of women on television. She was definitely a hit with both the judges and the audience.
Tiffany Haddish didn’t make semis but she definitely left an impression. Haddish is an Ethiopian Jew whose jokes centered around her ethnicity and recent marriage. She made it to round two and had high hopes for advancing but was not one of the chosen few.
Despite the judges obvious cackling over mediocre jokes, the show did spotlight some unique talent. In the words of Simon Cowell, some performances were forgettable; but a few have enough star power to hold their own in the next round.
Next weeks show will be the New York auditions.