'Last Comic': If at first you don't succeed ...

Ant_lastcomic_s5_240_2... Head to Minneapolis. Or so that appears to be the lesson from Wednesday's Last Comic Standing.

Because, well, look at Doug Benson. The veteran stand-up comic didn't make it through the L.A. auditions, but he high-tailed it to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and not only made it to the callback showcase, but got his ticket punched to the semifinals. I can't recall that happening on LCS before; if it has, it's been pretty rare.

The show sent six more comics through to the semifinals in Wednesday's episode, leaving only four spots to be filled from the Tempe, Ariz., auditions (in two weeks; it's taking the Fourth of July off, and I wonder what's so special about Tempe that it will apparently fill most of the hour on its own). And I still don't know if I've seen a potential winner yet.

That's not to say there weren't funny people on Wednesday's show -- I liked Matt Kirshen from the London auditions quite a bit, and the other two winners from Minneapolis, Tracey Ashley and Tommy Johnagin, had some good material too. But no one has jumped out at me, really made me laugh hard, as of yet.

That could be a function of how the early episodes are edited. We see maybe two jokes from each comic in the morning audition, then a couple more at the callbacks. A smart comedian would also be saving his or her A-material for later rounds. So maybe we're just not seeing the best stuff yet. At least I hope that's the case.

I also wonder whether, at the international auditions, the judges and producers are picking people they think are simply the funniest, or ones that they think will play best to American audiences, which isn't necessarily the same thing. I haven't had much of a problem with the semifinalists chosen from Montreal, Sydney and London, but they don't seem to be bringing a ton of flavor from their respective locales along with them.

Then again, if the single-named Buddy is representative of the state of British stand-up comedy, maybe it's best that a few other comics with more universal material are headed to these shores. Wow, was that some painful stuff, and we only got a couple minutes of his set (looks like Ant was right about not inviting him back). I can only imagine how rough it was for the audience in the club.

Still, the six choices the judges made -- Ava Vidal and Spencer Brown from London joining Kirshen, Benson, Ashley and Johnagin -- are pretty solid ones. Certainly no one else I saw tonight made a bigger impression. But again, no one's knocked me off the couch yet either.

Who are your favorites so far? And is anyone worthy of a $250,000 prize?