Round one of the Last Comic Standing semi-finals kicked off Monday in style as host Craig Robinson warmed up the crowd in his loungewear, deviously stroking a Persian Cat. This year, the show's semi-finals are housed in L.A.'s Alex Theater.
Our sights were set on Jamie Lee and Amanda Melson, two of the three Texan semi-finalists. Now that we’ve eliminated all the clowns and cooks from the auditions, we can expect to see a full line-up of talented stand-up.
Myq Kaplan started off the night strong. He immediately stole the hearts of the judges with his joke about how people would pick up books more if someone like Brad Pitt was on the cover. "So far just words," Kaplan said as he thumbed through his imaginary book. Kaplan was the first to earn one of the five spots in the finals given this episode.
Our first Texas comic, Jamie Lee, was next but fell a bit short with her material. The judges felt that her jokes were hit and miss but gave her an overall good rating for her set. She did not advance.
Mike DeStefano didn't bring the whole audience pizza but he did satisfy their hunger with laughs. The audience went wild for the following joke: "My father was a gambler. We were rich seven times." We'll be seeing DeStefano again in the finals.
Seasoned comic Kyle Grooms was a shoe-in for the finals in many minds; but his material may have been too political for tone of the night. Grooms wasn't pushed on to the finals.
Next came Shane Mauss who lost the audience at first with his long bit about amusement parks and body parts falling off. What was he talking about again? The judges thought he redeemed himself a little bit in the end but Judge Greg Giraldo found him more physically entertaining.
"I love any comedian who as the same haircut as my 8 year old son," Giraldo said. Mauss (and his haircut) won't perform in the final.
Remember the seemingly homeless Hispanic guy with big curly hair who talks like a character off of "Pineapple Express?" Felipe Esparza had the audience going wild from the moment he entered the stage. Every punch line was followed by a roar of support. The audience and judges couldn’t get enough of him -- he's now on to the finals.
Following a series of high energy comics came a man who not only slowed the pace down but sprinkled in some surprises as well. Jonathan Thymius slowly delivered his jokes behind his big glasses and slightly hunched posture. Just when you think that’s his entire act, he pulled a fast one by taking off his shoe, then his sock, and put it on his hand to do a ventriloquist act! This feat (pun intended) alone marked him as a unique comic who we will see again in the finals.
If someone were to turn on the TV during this next performance, they might have thought they were watching re-runs of "SNL." Lil' Rel' delievered more of a dramatic monologue with character comedy but it didn't resonate well with the judges and audience.
Paula Bell brought her dry delivery and insulted each one of the judges before she left the stage. Even though she got rave reviews, she did not advance.
Rachel Feinstein took the stage and woke up all the single men in the audience. The hoots and hollering didn’t stop for a good couple of minutes into her time. She gracefully took the interaction and continued to deliver a great set. Feinstein is the only female comic who advanced in this round.
Amanda Melson of San Antonio struck out with Judge Andy Kindler when she slammed homeless people. Her performance had little audience feedback overall.
Chris Pope and Alycia Cooper didn’t move on, but they each had noteworthy jokes. Pope stood out by randomly mentioning that he’s gay and doesn’t follow up with any gay humor. Cooper told men that if you’re going to cheat, "cheat up." She urges them to choose a woman that is so hot their girlfriends or wives won’t mind they did it.
With two out of our three Texans down, our eyes are on Jerry Rocha of Dallas in next week's episode.