Pass the tomatoes

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Don't panic, but I am making spaghetti sauce. Not to eat, silly, just to rub across my lips in some expression of feigned Italian satiation, and to honor the three interview subjects buzzing at my hotline today. Comedians they are, and they conjure vaudevillian images of rotten tomatoes a-tossing in the direction of suspender-ed disbelief.

As I will find out later, the canned tomatoes I've used are rotten, tasting of vinegar. I am that good at what I do.

Likewise good at what they do, though apparently not good enough, Rich Vos, Dave Mordal and Cory Kahaney are currently reeling in the post-mortem of their surprise summer television hit, "Last Comic Standing" -- something like "Survivor" but without the scrubs and with some extra body weight. The three are at the Improv Dec. 1. With similar resumes under their belts, the postmodern yuks (hello, Pauly Shore) are to be minimal. Instead, just some real comedy, and perhaps, a little crass xenophobia.

"Where are you gonna hook me up, at what golf course?" Vos lays right in. "Where are you gonna get me laid? And then we'll have our conversation. What low self-esteem stripper do you know? Which one wants me to play uncle? Um, don't tell anybody about this."

Or this?

"If I could just find a hot transvestite that's under 7 feet tall, with a cock, then, y'know, everybody's happy. We could blow each other, then watch the game."

Yummy. Turns out Vos is happy with the whole TV experience, if not with the fact that I am not a transvestite.

"Fuck yeah. It brings people to our shows," he fuck yeahs. "It helped us, it helped me. For me, it was a big place, but I live on my own. I bang a girl, I want her out of the house after I'm done. Yeah, I had anxiety there at times. Just being out of your environment. I know I, Dave, and Cory acted as we would in life. I mean, I wouldn't sit in a bathtub with a guy, except for the humor part."

Then Mordal pulls the dry schtick in his introduction. Well, not that dry.

"I just talk about the weather. I talk about your hurricanes," he clouds. "Hopefully you'll have one. If you don't have a hurricane, we're gonna be in so much trouble. If you can get a hurricane, that I can comment on. No, really, I talk about drinking and drugging in a small town. I'm really dirty in a club."

And guess what? He's happy with the whole show thing, too! How happy?

"Very happy I did the show," he happies. "It was a huge house. I'm used to living with comic people anyways."

Kahaney, however, is more in tune with the spaghetti crisis. I detail to her my chunky sourness, adding that I'm pulling a housewife, nipping gin and piling in the sugar.

"That's an old wives' tale. I don't believe in that," she old wives. "I would put in more tomatoes. You have to use the San Marzano tomatoes, and start off with a little meat, and not a lot. Then onions, then garlic, then tomatoes. I would add salt and some Parmesan cheese."

Too late.

Oddly, the winner of the Jay Mohr-hosted comedy vehicle was Dat Phan, the person that nobody seemed to like, mostly because he wasn't funny. But jokes about his nationality are.

"It makes us want to drop more bombs in Vietnam," Vos tastes my vinegar. "Fuck that positive thinking. Ã?Shut up, stupid,' that's what I told him. But you know what, I got what I wanted out of it. He had to win on the West Coast, because on the East Coast they would have slapped him in the face. Goddamn rainbow flag on their bumpers."

"I think it was just that high energy," placates Mordal. "He's a performer. He's not a writer, he's not funny."

Writers are always funny. Aren't they?

"Well, you gotta look at it like there's a blessing in the fact that he won. We made him a star, in a sense. We tortured him," whips Kahaney. "The bottom line was he made us stars. It was almost like the OJ trial."


"It was so visceral when Dat Phan won. People were just so shocked and so pissed off, it added this kind of cool intrigue about us. He won because I think his culture is just naturally better with voting on computers."

Enough. What do they make of each other?

"Our comedies are so different. Everybody on a one to 10 scale is a 10 out of us three," Vos calculates.

"Vos looked so gay the other night. I haven't even seen him and I've just been getting phone call after phone call," gays Mordal.

"Damn ex-junkie!" I join in.

"That's all he is! He didn't join the Peace Corps. He claims to do 1,700 crunches in the morning, yet nobody sees him do it."

Kahaney's got it all summed up:

"Not to slam anybody else, but we were the comedian's comedians. Dave is more of the edgy, dark Johnny Carson, because when you close your eyes, he really does sound like Johnny Carson. Vos is the cuddly, low-self-esteem hypochondriac Andrew Dice Clay. And I'm the bangable Joy Behar."

So in a grease (or spaghetti) fight, who would really be the last comic standing?

"Goddamn gay guys are always starting trouble. Jesus Christ," Vos mentions gay and Jesus within eight words of each other. "Who would win? Dat would win. It would probably be like a three-way tie, with me a little in the lead. Who would win between Rembrandt and Van Gogh? How do you compare fucking art? You're gonna make up your own answer. I don't believe in fucking contests."


"I think Cory would win. She's been working out."

"I would keep my head, lets put it that way," adds Kahaney.

So, as I pour the sauce down the disposal without so much as one airborne tomato, I realize once again how almost-good at my job I am. Well, not really.

"I don't even think you work for this paper," says Vos. "You just want me."

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