MONTREAL — LA’s MIKE BRIDENSTINE kicked off the second half of the first New Faces show Thursday night, and immediately got chuckles from the crowd upon suggesting that, like Larry the Cable Guy’s Git-R-Done, he was advised to create a catch phrase for his comedy in order to propel his career to the next level. Bridenstine’s choice: “Bang, you’re pregnant!” He peppered the phrase at hilariously inopportune times throughout his set. Quite likable – he tells the audience that he is currently at the fattest he’s ever been – and very funny, Bridenstine was a bright spot during the 10-comic show.
KUMAIL NANJIANI took the stage next. You may know this New York City comic from his appearances on The Colbert Report or from Variety’s recently published list of new comedians you need to watch out for. His set was anchored by a joke about how old the world famous Cyclone rollercoaster in Comedy Island is. It was built in 1927. “Sliced bread hit the market in 1928,” he tells the crowd. Nanjiani has skills for sure, but with such a short set, it was a bit difficult for me to see why Variety removed him the from the hundreds of comedian upstarts around the world and why, in general, has been getting so much attention in the national stand-up comedy scene.
LA’s RENEE GAUTHIER was up next. I’m not sure she told any jokes, but the woman can tell a story, dance and sing. She highlighted her set with a bit wherein she “sang backup” to some pop song (honestly, I have no idea what song it was); her backup consisted of her yelling single words over the chorus of the song and writhing (or was it dancing?) in an exaggerated Beyonce back up dancer style. Hilarious. But why is it, in a field of new comics from all over the world, can you always tell who’s from LA, looking for television and movies to sweep them off the stand-up comedy stage.
The bushy-bearded, bushy-headed ALEX KOLL from San Francisco followed the flashy set, opening by stepping to the very front of the stage, leaning over into the crowd – rock star style – and speaking in a booming voice, taking on the persona of a wizard at a wizard comedy show. Koll was competent and funny throughout his set, which included a recital of his rewritten lyrics to Prince’s “1999” and a phone call to a mother’s who’s son had died.
Boston and New York City-based comic MYQ KAPLAN ended the show. For the past few years Kaplan has carved out a small place in the national comedy scene, consistently impressing comedy fest audiences and contest judges; he recently won the New York Comedy Contest, and for good reason. Kaplan will never be the flashy, blow-up comedy star of the country. But I think it’s safe to say, that with his lightning fast mind, understated demeanor and his advanced joke writing ability, Kaplan eventually will become not unlike a Ted Alexandro— well-respected and well-liked for his considerable talents— but a bit too smart and subtle to be loved by millions. Kaplan will be MC-ing for Louis CK at Carolines in New York this weekend; it’s quite a bonus for what will prove to be an awesome show.