Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Last Comic Standing

Open auditions were held for Last Comic Standing at Caroline's yesterday and since I have no job, I was there at 4 a.m. Andrew came with me and we hooked up with a group of comics we knew from the clubs. We all stood on line for the next fourteen hours on the freezing cold.

Hector Luis, Harris Bloom and Max Calloway

Harris Bloom, Lara Yazz and Hector Luis


The first four hours were a lot of fun. It was almost like camping, standing out in the cold, watching the city come back to life. Eventually the work crowd came up and I watched people in business suits shoot around, going to office buildings like the one I had just left. Didn't help that Caroline's is one block away from Ogilvy.

Max putting on his third layer of socks.

As the sun came up it got colder. The line we were on now stretched around two corners. We were starting to get punchy. We became obsessed with a billboard of Larry King down 7th Avenue.

Harris and Ethan Mawyer

They started letting people in around 10, but not many people. They told us to line up single file but no one wanted to move further back after seven hours in the same spot. Max became obsessed with his horrible impression of Larry David.

Hector's head shot for his new Q&A column 'I dunno'.

Comics starting coming out an hour later and everyone pressed them with questions. There was a 'good cop, bad cop' relationship going on with the judges. Comics were getting thirty seconds and 'bad cop' was throwing them out.

Al Wagner completing an amazing pratfall, during which I was fumbling for my camera.

The cops tried to make a crowd four people deep single file so we were all crushed against the restaurant next door. I began to wonder what I was doing there. I'd only been doing stand-up for two months. Why was I waiting on line for fourteen hours in the cold? Was I really better than the 300 other comics on line?

Hector and I were let in in the same batch. It had been 13 hours. The place was quiet and disorganized. We filled out forms and saw enough empty spaces to fill twenty more freezing comics.

We were led into the empty space at Caroline's. I got about one minute into my material. Good cop laughed. Bad cop told me he'd rather eat his own organs than listen to me and to get out. I wasn't seriously hoping to get picked. All I was hoping for was some constructive criticism to help me improve my act. I didn't get it. All I got was a Simon Cowell wannabe using shtick line #23.

Bad cop told Andrew he'd rather be doing his taxes, a line he'd already used on Ethan Moyer. Other comics fared better, being told they 'weren't ready' or 'not what we're looking for' or 'not right for the show'. We all commiserated at McDonald's and found solace in the fact that Jason Ellsworth, one of us, got through. Laura and Harris didn't even get in. They sent everyone away even though they were next on line.

We all told each other we did it just to do it. If we had skipped the audition, as a number of our friends had done, we'd regret it. I doubted it then, but now that I've finally gotten some sleep, I believe it. It wasn't what I'd hoped, harder than I thought and I came away with less than I expected. But I'm going to keep getting up on stage, keep writing and keep getting better. And I've made a lot of good friends who will be in the clubs with me.


Dave said...

It's hard to spend all that time on something and walk away with a turd. You might not have been better then the other 300 comics but you beat out the millions of other people that didn't have the guts to even show up. Bravo.

PS - you can still get work as a writer, this story was really interesting.

Walker said...

I have given you tons of advice over the years(what you took,I have know clue) but never look for approval or help from anyone in the entertainment business. 1/2 are just head bobbing no talents and the rest are born into it. Write your best & perform your best and leave it up to the people. Good cop and Bad cop then will unite and show what true bottom feeders they are.

Andrew said...

That was rough. I've worked on television and messed up on television but never got the kind of abuse I received yesterday on that stage.

I never wanted to get on Last Comic Standing. I hate reality shows. I wanted to do three minutes in front of the Tonight Show scouts and maybe get some constructive criticism. Instead, I got a very unclever insult. Why? Because cameras were rolling and insults make better television. It's too bad, but you know what? Next week we'll all be back in the clubs, supporting each other and having fun. And the Simon Cowell wannabe will be in his office in Burbank pushing papers. Screw him.

Joe Palen said...

Out here on the West Coast, I got a cheap shot from the Simon Cowell wannabe, too.

I've finally managed to put his criticism in perspective by remembering that criticism is easy. What really matters is the Man in the Arena.

Fight On! (it's not just a school motto, it's a way of life)

--- Joe

Ethan Mawyer said...

The tax comment doesn't make for good television. It's not clever, it's stupid, and of course I have my own personal reason to dislike it. I wanted to say something back, but I was tired and people were waiting but mostly I was just tired.