No joke: Even Heejun's best isn't good enough for 'American Idol'

Heejun Han delivered his best performance of the season Wednesday, but it wasn't enough to keep him in the competition.

The Heejun Han musical comedy tour ended on “American Idol” on Thursday, ironically following his best solo performance of the season.

After weeks of getting not-so-subtle hints that he should cut back on the jokes, culminating with Steven Tyler’s less-veiled swipe a week ago, Han cut out the act and did a straight-up performance of Donny Hathaway's “A Song for You.” It was sweetly done and earned him a standing ovation.

But Jimmy Iovine summed up the situation best in his Thursday video clip. He praised Han’s effort but noted, “My problem is I don’t think he sings as well as the other eight contestants at this point in the show.”

And therein lies the paradox that characterized Han’s stint on “Idol.” He wasn’t quite compelling enough of an entertainer to win in the Taylor Hicks style, and he wasn’t a good enough pure vocalist to take the title that way. Whatever he did was going to win him some support – he definitely has a future in entertainment somewhere – but not enough to win a competition like this one.

Even on his best night, he legitimately had one of the weakest performances because everyone else was at their best as well. Since the judges did not use their save to keep him around, Han finishes in ninth place and will have to pack his things just after he moved into the “Idol” mansion. It will definitely be a less funny place without him around.

'American Idol' final 2

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The more shocking news was that Skylar Laine was in the bottom three, along with Hollie Cavanagh, who deserved that fate. That means Laine will likely get the fawning from the judges that’s been reserved for Elise Testone as they try to keep the star women on the show without having to use their save so early. Maybe it was divine payback for picking Miranda Lambert as her idol, considering Lambert's husband, Blake Shelton, works for "The Voice."

Of course, there are other female stars that the judges seem less eager to have hang around. Guest performer Nicki Minaj, for example. She asked host Ryan Seacrest if she could come back and be a guest judge, and while their mouths said “any time” the body language and facial expressions said “no shot.” Especially if Jennifer Lopez has a say. She did not look happy at the thought of a challenge. Simon Cowell has more of a chance at being invited to judge again than Minaj does.

Hitting the other end of the excitability meter was the Eric Benet cameo. He appeared briefly onstage to tell DeAndre Brackensick how much he appreciated the young man's cover of his tune "Sometimes I Cry" on Wednesday, and the “Idol” hopeful reacted as if he’d won the lottery. Mariah Carey did not do the same for Joshua Ledet, but she did tweet that she liked his performance of "Without You." Stunningly, she did not mention having worked with Randy Jackson. Maybe that feedback loop works only one way?

Brackensick avoided the bottom three this past week, but he can’t rest easy. Given the unpredictability of the voting so far, the only sure thing is that with Han out, there will be less irreverence in the show next week.

Were you surprised that Skylar and Hollie were in the bottom three? Who should have had to sit on the stools? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

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