Today is officially pay attention to comedians day in North America, as Just For Laughs announced its list of 20 comedians who are this year's "New Faces" in Montreal, trade magazine Variety unveiled its list of "10 Comics to Watch," and Comedy Central announced its intention to produce its own "Comics to Watch" showcase in November as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
Who's on which list?
I published the 2010 Montreal New Faces earlier today. These 20 comedians are meant to be up-and-coming stand-ups who, as far as the show business industry is concerned, have not yet gotten their big breaks, so this is Just For Laugh's showcase to give them said big break. That's the intention, at least. Over the years, it has done just that for some, but not for all.
Variety published its list of "10 Comics to Watch" today to coincide with Montreal, and hosts a reception later in the week at Montreal to toast the 10 comics. They're considered, in the eyes of the trade magazine, to be on the verge of stardom — based on the work they have accomplished in the past year and/or projects upcoming this year. For that reason, you'll usually look at the Variety list and say, oh, of course so-and-so is someone to watch because you're already watching that comedian. But not necessarily for all 10. OK. So this year's 2010 Variety "10 Comics to Watch" are: Hannibal Buress, Deon Cole, Lucas Cruikshank, Garfunkel and Oates, Brett Gelman, Chris Gethard, The Imponderables, Kyle Kinane, Chelsea Peretti and Jack Whitehall.
Comedy Central now enters the mix with today's announcement of its own "Comics To Watch" at this November's upcoming New York Comedy Festival, which — by the tone of the press release — sounds like an attempt to create an alternative to New Faces. Not that that's a revolutionary enterprise for Montreal, considering that for several years, HBO's U.S Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen featured "new" stand-up comedians in an equally competitive process, so much so that if a young comic got picked for one, he or she would not be considered for the other that year.
Comedy Central's upcoming "Comics To Watch" sounds even more like that, considering the network already has annual televised showcases such as Live at Gotham (and before that Premium Blend) to give up-and-comers their first TV credits. Unless this is designed to replace and enhance what was Gotham. Here's a couple of quotes from today's press release: ‚ÄúThe New York Comedy Festival has long been home to some of today‚Äôs biggest headliners who are at the top of their game,‚Äù said JoAnn Grigioni, Comedy Central's vice president of talent. ‚Äú‚ÄôComics To Watch‚Äô was created to launch the careers of the next generation of comedians by putting them in front of industry executives and comedy fans.‚Äù And from Caroline Hirsch, owner of Carolines on Broadway and festival partner: ‚ÄúComedy Central has a long history of finding and developing the very best new comedy talent and 'Comics to Watch' will provide a unique platform for a select new group of comedians to be seen. I‚Äôm looking forward to participating in the process of identifying and developing this group of emerging comedy talent with Comedy Central.‚Äù