In a move that no one saw coming, this week's Last Comic Standing gave us a head-to-head elimination match-up that probably should have been saved for the finale. Before the epic showdown took place, however, the remaining seven contestants faced their next challenge: improv.
In order to put their skills to the test, the comics were assigned to be tour guides for Universal Studios' Hollywood Studio Tour ride, where they would be performing while cruising through some of Hollywood's most iconic film scenes. To help them prepare for the challenge, guest mentor Howie Mandel stopped by to offer advice, throw some fist bumps, and pretend not to be flexing throughout his entire segment.
His hairless arms and head aside, Mandel's advice was decent, although it felt like he just offered the same three tips over and over. After a few more minutes of coaching, it was time to head into the park.
Rod Man was given the most camera time for this week's challenge, once again killing with his quick-witted one-liners and strong crowd rapport. The highlight was when Norman Bates ran out of Bates Motel, to which Rod Man calmly responded, "I'll pray for you."
Other standouts of this week's challenge included Joe Machi, whose awkward disposition and polished crowd work went over big with his tour group, and Nikki Carr, who explained how Universal Studios could have saved a ton of money if they had called her for help with burned-out cars and busted airplanes.
In the end, however, it was last week's head-to-head challenge winner Lachlan Patterson who prevailed, granting him immunity from this week's elimination.
After a close vote, it was decided that Joe Machi would battle Monroe Martin in that evening's head-to-head. This was unexpected not only because Machi has been one of the best comedians all season when it came to his stage performances, but also because he chose to spare potentially weaker finalists in favor of challenging one of the show's frontrunners.
"It's about who's the best comedian, so if I lose I lose," he said before making his choice.
What happened next is something that separated this season of LCS from all seven of its predecessors: incredible standup comedy. There were no gimmicks, no reality TV garbage. It was two hilarious comedians who delivered headliner-worthy performances. The competition was so close, in fact, that the judges demanded two "sudden death" overtime periods, in order to determine which competitor would advance.
NOTE: Our man Russell Peters was barely seen this week, but we noticed something during his limited screen time. There's a photo that's been circulating online this week of Hollywood megastar the Rock from the mid-1990s, showing just how brutal his hair and fashion sense were back then. Look familiar?
Note the bad haircut, the turtleneck sweater, and the fanny pack (while we can't see the fanny pack, we assume Russell is sporting one above his bright blue dad jeans).
Back to the competition, after all was said and done Joe Machi managed to edge Monroe Martin, sending him home from the competition. However, if Martin doesn't win the online Comic Comeback competition, there is no justice in the world.
Next week is the final challenge episode before the public eliminations begin, with the remaining six comics roasting Gilbert Gottfried (in his first network TV appearance since getting canned as the voice of the Aflac duck!).