By Margaret Lyons
Updated June 08, 2010 at 04:03 PM EDT
Last Comic Standing
Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC

Image Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCSomething really weird happened on Last Comic Standing last night. It was…funny. Like, actually, honest-to-goodness funny in some parts. (It helps if you fast-forward through the schlocky “bits” in between the stand-up sets, and don’t listen to too much of the “banter.” Oy.) The biggest relief was how few terrible acts there were; whatever schadenfreude there may be in watching lousy singers bomb their American Idol auditions, it’s just not the same for stand-up.

Too bad the structure of the show doesn’t seem to notice that stand-up is its own unique medium, though. The comics so far seemed solid, but man, the format of the show just sucks so much of the fun out. First there’s the awkward performance in front of three judges and no one else. Even gifted, established performers would flail in that kind of environment; such a big part of good stand-up is a rapport with the audience, a feel for the rhythms of a crowd. Performing in a deserted venue seems like it’s testing the wrong skills. (Though that’s often what Last Comic Standing seems to be testing.) Then the edited down “showcase” portion either doesn’t really show people’s best segments, or the judges have really unpredictable taste, and the show takes many other things into consideration. Perhaps all of these.

And yet there were a lot of funny performances last night. My early faves are Fortune Feimster, Lil Rel, Chip Pope, Shane Mauss, James Adomian, and Paula Bel, but I was sad to see Rob Delaney and Chris Fairbanks both get axed.

What about you, PopWatchers? Who made you laugh last night? And does the structure bug you as much as it bugs me?