Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy try to find the best in standup, sketch and verity based comedy -- plus, John Legend drops by after Chrissy flirts too hard with one comic.
"Bring the Funny" wants to do for comedy what "World of Dance" has done for music, which is to bring the best of the best together to see which act is really the best.
So the question is, did "BTF" bring the best? Well, we're not so sure about that, though there were some comedians with pretty substantial followings out there, like Frangela and JK! Studios, bringing their sketch stylings to a new audience.
Like "Dance," "BTF" is merging together the three main overall styles of comedy into one show, which means there are standup comics competing with sketch comedy troupes and even variety acts. It's a madhouse of talent, and there were plenty of laughs in this first episode.
Perhaps the biggest flaw right now is simply the time constraints. With only one hour, "BTF" needs to push through ten acts, which means we only really got to see six of them fully, and with only six acts advancing, it certainly had us wondering if they'd be that lame all hour. Spoiler alert: they almost were!
Host and comedian Amanda Seales does a great job of keeping things light and fun throughout, as do judges Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy, who appear to really be enjoying themselves. They even bring some of the biggest laughs themselves, though they are definitely suffering from "nice judge" syndrome with a lot of these contestants.
But most importantly, there really is some world-class talent on the stage. And as we rarely get to see sketch or variety comedy on a big show like this, it's really refreshing to see these formats thriving out there with some unique and clever material.
While the judges' top six advance, we're going to keep things even simpler. We broke them down into two categories: Funny and Not Funny, and ranked them worst to first. Some acts did get cheated as NBC didn't air their full appearance, nor did they deign to put the clips online. Sorry!
(standup) We got just the it about him and his buddy going on a couples cruise together and the awkwardness that ensued, which should have created some really great jokes and anecdotes. Maybe Ian needed to get more specific with his stories because we found ourselves wanting to know more about what that was like, but he was making safe jokes like them wearing matching outfits to dinner to not mess anyone's picture up. Find the edge.
(standup) We only got a snippet of her act, but her jokes about Amazon and USPS had the kernel of good material there, but it didn't land. Jeff gave her a good note about reading the room and stopping if a joke really kills rather than end on more of a dud note ... which she totally did.
Harry & Chris
(variety) These guys sang a song about being friends and being like "Friends" and it just never came together, so why was Kenan being so nice to them. These guys have been singing silly songs together for awhile now, so maybe the song just wasn't strong enough, or they didn't have time to bring us into their wacky world, because it didn't work at all.
(variety) Clearly the judges weren't impressed so much we didn't even get to see their advice for Armando. We liked his one-note joke, but that's all we got. It's also worth noting that if the show is going to give us ten acts each night and six of them advance, then heavily editing and lumping all four together (and not putting their videos onine) eliminates 100 percent of the tension, excitement and mystery as to who advances ... or does it? Would they advance an act we barely got to see (and isn't available online)?
(variety) This was kind of a weird act, with Jarred effectively using comedy and misdirection to steal different things from an audience member over and over and over again. It was certainly interesting to watch, but it didn't quite "bring the funny," as the show wants. Magic and comedy can go very well together (as Penn & Teller prove all the time), but Jarred hasn't quite nailed the combo yet.
(variety) This character is a robot standup comic, the "future of standup comedy." Man if only his jokes were as good as his animatronic movements. He was spot-on in that regard. Now, part of his appeal was the corniness of some of his jokes, but there needed to be some kind of hook to really land some of those. The generic audience interaction was clever, but none of his material really took us anywhere. Non-sequiturs are fine ... if they're really funny on their own. Still, love the character and his performance of it. That part is brilliant!
(standup) At only 23 years old, Matt comes with a healthy does of confidence and delivered a solid set about being an emotional guy. Somehow we went from him planning his wedding with Chrissy to becoming an inmate's fruit cup, but Matt took us on the journey so it all made sense, and he earned those laughs. A solid first impression, if not laugh-out-loud hilarious. His impression on Chrissy, though, might have been too solid as Jeff warned John Legend, when he came to bring his wife a drink, that she'd been flirting a little too hard. John didn't seem too worried, though, and especially when she didn't even know his name.
(standup) Orlando has a naturally funny delivery, but he undersold most of his material. He also didn't offer any explanation as to why he likes different things now. All he'd have had to say was something like, 'You guys know it's always sunny on HGTV" and he would have tied the second part of his bit with the first and the whole narrative would have made more sense. He has a lot of potential though, even if some of his material didn't hit as sharp as it could, and he ended on a bit of a down note as his "Fixer Upper" material wasn't as sharp as him yelling at the other shows.
(sketch) Props to JK! Studios for a sketch fully realized from start to finish with a twist ending that subverted everything that came before. Framed around a fake kids show when the sound guy joins the team, he brought nothing but crazy conspiracy theories. But they rhymed with the song. We'd have liked a little more discomfort among the rest of the cast with his antics, but overall, this was brilliantly written and very well executed. The troupe aired this sketch as an episode of their YouTube show on June 13.
(sketch) Sketch is a whole different beast, but this long-time comedy duo really brought out a combination of people who talk to the screen in theaters and horror movie tropes to put together a pretty funny scene. It didn't need more than the two of them hollering at the movie and interacting with the fake audience shushing them to be funny, but they added to it with movie commentary.
Turns out they pulled a fast one on us and even though we only saw six acts in their entirety, those weren't necessarily the six acts that carried through. We suppose it's a double-edged sword as their time is limited.
But you'd think they'd at least put Harry & Chris' full act online so fans can see why they advanced. They were joined by Frangela, Orlando Leyba, Jarred Fell, JK! Studios and Matt Rife.
That's a bummer for Mister Zed, who was incredibly entertaining as a robot but didn't land the mark with his actual comedic material.
BRING THE BEST LINES
"I might sleep with you and not call you the next day. 'Cause I'm busy planning our wedding. Do you understand how much work goes into our day? Like, I got stuff to do, man. Do you even know where to get doves ... Theyre not on Amazon Prime. You can't Postmates doves." -Matt Rife
"I looked at Kenan and I was like, 'You can't be handsome and funny. Like, that's just mean. That's not possible." -Chrissy Teigen"Jeff's leaving." -Kenan Thompson (as Jeff Foxworthy walks off)
"You need to worry about this firt comic that was on tonight." --Jeff (to John Legend)"Was he flirting with my wife?" -John"Don't tell John about Mike --Matt-- the love of my life, Matt!" -Chrissy"You don't even know his name." -John"I don't need to know his name!" -Chrissy
"The other cute girl is changing out of her bikini into another bikini. I think it's an evening bikini?" -Frangela (mocking horror movie tropes)
"Tonight, I'd like to play something that you guys can all afford." -Armando Anto (plays one note on violin)
"What is reality?" -Mister Zed (as he's leaving)
"Bring the Laughs" airs every Tuesday after "America's Got Talent," at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.