Very impressed by the number of strong, unique voices Montreal’s Just For Laughs has plucked for New Faces in 2015.
Please note, as the headline suggests, these are my first impressions from this group, and your impressions may vary.
Vladimir Caamano: Conveys vivid pictures of life with his father in the Bronx and tough neighborhoods in New York City, where even the ATMs have it rough, and where his father is a little too excited about receiving his first-ever debit card.
Moses Storm: Illustrated his routines with big act-outs to winning effect, from his mother’s poor shoplifting techniques to an imagined seduction technique from an avocado. Could have done without his line about your cell phone representing an autistic child (which I’ve heard others tell better), because his interactive closing bit with the audience didn’t need it.
Emma Willman: Noting up top that her name sounds like she’s saying, “I’m a woman,” she made light of her upbringing in a small town in Maine. Somehow, coming out as dyslexic proved much tougher for her with her father than coming out as a lesbian did.
Alex Edelman: Edinburgh Fringe’s top newcomer for 2014, Edelman is originally from the Boston area, lives now in NYC, but prefers thinking of himself as an American abroad who doesn’t come off as ugly American. You’ll soon learn that he’s much more memorable than Michael Collins. No, not that Michael Collins.
Langston Kerman: He feels like his look is more “Muslim R&B singer,” but he has much more success telling us about elderly black men who refuse to eat vegetables. Kerman could have ended on his line about “sweet anus puns,” (I shan’t tell you how he got to that point), then continued on to update us on how an old love letter written from the frontlines of war would have read and sounded based on the kids these days.
Ashley Barnhill: Sharp-tongued wit. Who’s looking to settle down and get married, anyhow? You or your mate. That’s the real battle. She doubled-down on a Cosby reference with a Jian Ghomeshi reference. De rien, Montreal. De rien and bienvenue!
Chris Redd: Opened with musings on how old-school hip-hop came with instructions in the lyrics, and brought it back with a great callback as he described his cousin’s coming out as gay to the family. In between, he and his cousin tried to describe what heaven must be like, as they were getting high. Somehow, Redd’s version of a Gatsby party seems rather believable and desirable.
Ian Abramson: Meta-inception-level piece about time travel. Dare I tell you more? FMK his set.
Clayton English: As host Alonzo Bodden remarked afterward, finally a tall comedian with a deep manly voice. OK. English joked about having problems with police drug dogs, and how white people only will get on board with #blacklivesmatter if police start killing dogs (#blacklabsmatter). He also let his white friends convince him to join them on extreme sports such as deer hunting, which was not his thing, if you can believe that. You will believe that.
Ester Steinberg: As seen this spring on Oxygen’s Funny Girls, she illustrated why everything we know and tell each other about having a sense of humor is sexy…doesn’t play out that way in real life.
Jon Rudnitsky: Earned an applause break for his ultimate act-out fan fiction interpretative dance to Dirty Dancing’s “Time of My Life.” But as ultimately a mime performance, why wasn’t he and this act moved to the “Characters” group? Just curious.