Last night upon seeing the results of Last Comic Standing (and the fact that I had predicted the exact order of everyone except the winner, Felipe Esparza) I tweeted “I don’t understand America’s sense of humor. Felipe Esparza!” That was greeted with a tweet from someone else in reply that said “Well said – you don’t. He’s funny as hell. Over your head.”
Without addressing the irony of something going over my head, is this what America thinks is “smart” comedy? Perhaps that is why we are such a dumb country. After all I have a feeling a majority of the country does not realize that amending the 14th Amendment to strip children, born in this country to illegal immigrant parents, of their citizenship (AKA Mexican-Americans) is only a midterm election issue. That won’t play on a national level during a presidential race, but the point is to get House and possibly Senate seats this Fall using the hate-driven proposal. It has nothing to do with amending the Constitution because that won’t happen. Republicans just want to use it as a wedge issue to pick up Congressional seats now. Unfortunately Obama’s supporters consist of too many fair-weather black voters (they did not even support him until after he won Iowa) and too many white voters who were ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble (they had done their “I’m not a racist” duty by voting for him in the first place). The messsage needs to get to them that the uncool white men in the Senate and House have some power too and people need to wake up and realize what is going on. Go vote during the midterms! (end of tangentially-related political pitch)
Now perhaps in that context I should be happy to see Felipe Esparza win. After all, he is a Mexican-American and that sends a nice message. The only problem with that is that comedy viewers, unlike Academy Award voters (Milk) don’t take issues like that into consideration. They want their comedy simple, but also to feel good about themselves subconsciously. Nothing does that better than when that comedy is delivered by an ethnic comedian who plays into their ethnicity. And entertainment is a safe place for people of color. They can be appreciated without any discernible power (once again, Obama elected on the strength of an incredible and entertaining campaign, but as soon as he started wielding the power he was given all Hell broke loose).
Being on the road a lot more in the last two years has shown me something about America – it is that rooms full of white people are generally a lot kinder to a comedian of color especially if he does one of two things:
1) confirm stereotypes, which allow white people to laugh twice as hard – once for the joke and once for relief of their feelings
2) portray themselves as fish out of water – I cannot tell you how many times a black comic has killed on stage with some line like, “I must be at the wrong club.”
Felipe Esparza was easily the 5th comic out of the five on the show last night. I thought he was more like 8th out of the overall final ten. He was literally the only one of the five that I thought could not win. Sadly I have also said that Sarah Palin could never win a presidential election. But Esparza gives America what it subconsciously wants – an ethnic friend. He delivered a quirky character. I am not saying he played it up to some caricature, like say, Dat Phan (Last Comic Standing winner – season 1), but he gave America enough. Perhaps the “I have a black friend” mantra can now be replaced by “I like that Mexican comedian” in thousands of homes across the country.
But that show was awful last night and not just because of the result. Kathy Griffin was the big headliner. To me, her success tells me that a lot of gay men and women have awful senses of humor. She acts like she is saying shocking things (“Oh no she diiiiiiiin’t”), but she is just saying things that Jay Leno passed on in his monologues. She is awful to look at and listen to. And just because she acknowledges her grotesque face and surgeries does not make it any more watchable.
Also Tom Papa, “The Marriage Ref”. Thanks for giving me another GPS-voice joke.
One highlight was Iliza Shlesinger (last season’s winner). Someone has been doing P90X while practicing Dane Cook-esque pratfalls! My friend John (non-comedian) only texted me twice during the final episode. One was to say: your boy Kaplan 🙁 (when buddy and frequent vanquisher of me in comedy contests Myq Kaplan was eliminated) and the other was: Shlesinger 🙂 I guess he liked her comedy.
Another highlight was Mike Destefano,, “If you voted for me thanks and if not Fu*k you.” I wish the show had ended there.