If State College comedian Joe Machi seemed nervous before, the challenge on Thursday’s episode of “Last Comic Standing” forced him out of his comfort zone. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t deliver another crowd-pleasing performance.
After the NBC reality show narrowed the competition down to 10 finalists, Machi among them, the comedians could no longer rely on their practiced stand-up material to impress the judges. Instead, this week they had to perform a sketch comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.
The episode began with the comics heading to Universal Studios for a tour of the lot before arriving at the “Last Comic Standing” headquarters. There, host JB Smoove informed the competitors they would be split into two teams, with the winners earning immunity from elimination. Both teams were tasked with performing the same sketch using their unique comedic styles.
Machi was placed on Team Snake along with Nikki Carr, Lachlan Patterson, Monroe Martin and Karlous Miller. When it came time to rehearse, the comedians weren’t left entirely to their own devices; they received some help from actress Cheryl Hines.
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“When you’re doing stand-up, you’re up there by yourself and it’s about your material and connecting with the audience,” Hines said. “When you’re doing sketch, it’s about working together as a team.”
Both teams were given two hours to practice and they quickly began by figuring out each member’s role. It was decided Machi would play a burn victim. After going over the script a few times, Smoove arrived and ushered the comedians out on to the stage.
“It’s like throwing a kid into a pool and they’re either going to sink or swim. Hopefully, you know, I’ve never done that, I’d never kill anyone, but, like, hopefully they swim,” Machi said before his team’s performance.
Despite an awkward start from Patterson, Machi and the rest of his teammates did indeed swim. The sketch featured Miller and Machi promoting a fake movie on a talk show and was a hit with the audience.
Miller, playing the director of “Flames & Trains,” said the movie was a hilarious comedy perfect for the whole family. Machi, portraying an actor who was burned on set, was quick to disagree. “I can pretty much tell you from personal experience that there is nothing hilarious about being stuck in a massive fire.”
After Team Flower performed the same sketch with mixed results, Smoove was quick to declare Team Snake the winner.
Whether Machi will win the competition remains to be seen, but it’s clear he won’t be leaving the comedy scene any time soon. Earlier in the episode he said, “Someone once asked me why I was a comedian. It’s not a career you choose; it kind of chooses you.”