MONTREAL – The comedians on the late New Faces show Wednesday, hosted by New York comedian Sean Patton, benefited from a slightly warmer crowd than their early show counterparts. But does that mean it was a better show? Let’s dig in.
Los Angeles via North Carolina comic Fortune Feimster, who’s scored herself some quality prime time exposure thanks to her advancing on this season of Last Comic Standing, kicked things off, and quickly became one of the crowd’s favorite of the night. Feimster excels at keeping possibly heavy topics on the light side. She was a late bloomer, coming out as a lesbian at 25, she told the crowd, and with genetics working against her, she figured she had three job choices: comedian, softball coach or UPS driver. “I chose comedian because I don’t look good in brown,” she rationalized.
New York City’s Joe Mande followed her strong performance with one of his own, highlighted by a hilarious extended bit that calls out self-proclaimed “foodies” for being the pretentious buttholes they are. When a friend explains to Mande that a “foodie” is someone who’s “really into” food, Mande points out: “You have to be a “foodie” to live—or else you’d die of not being a ‘foodie!’” To hammer the point – albeit a bit too hard – Mande explains that he’s also a big “sleepie,” “breathie” and other “ies.”
Oddball Mike Lawrence, also from New York, was next onstage, seemingly challenging the crowd at every turn not to laugh, not because he wasn’t funny – he turned out one of the stronger sets of the night – but because he has no problem describing his arty roommates like this: “Picture the musical Rent without anyone with enough charisma to get AIDS.” About his longtime alcoholic family he explains, “My family tree has a car wrapped around it.” And he even has a theory about why his life turned out the way it has. He says while working at a McDonald’s drive-thru, a gypsy lady put a curse on him: “You shall have the face of a rapist, and the self esteem of one of his victims.” Aaaaannnnd, scene!
New York comic Colin Jost took to the stage next, and before he exited would receive the only extended applause break of the night. The topic of the winning joke: Spanx, that ultra popular undergarment brand that slims down a woman’s (and men’s, by the way) lumpy trouble spots. As Jost succinctly put it, however, “It’s not solving the problem!” It’d be like this, Jost continued: “I don’t like my body; ‘Here’s a tree to hide behind.’” And, “I’m bald”; ‘Wear a bird on your head.’” In another smart, funny turn Jost theorizes that the reason old people where such loud colors is to simply be more visible; in other words, to prove they’re not dead. Harsh, possibly true and most importantly, funny.
Londoner Jack Whitehall – part of Variety’s newly-released list of 10 Comics to Watch – followed crowd pleasure Jost; and did so strongly. Sure, you can lazily compare Whitehall to Russell Brand—the black jeans, t-shirt, dark hair and accent indicate as much. But the young comic clearly has his own point of view and a serious command of the stage, on which he confidently and swiftly paces. He anchored his set with jokes about him still living at home with his parents and the challenges it poses when he’s trying to be intimate with his girlfriend. He likens the act to arriving late to a theater—there’s a lot of “shooshing” and shuffling about and eventually a very quiet “I’m sorry.”
Rich in character voices and accents, but a bit light in cohesive joke structure, Maryland-based comedian Justin Schlegel took the stage and nonetheless had the crowd laughing heartily. In a somewhat obvious observation, Schlegel questions the label of “gentleman’s clubs,” since, as you know, checking out naked women grind themselves on a poll is not so gentlemanly in the classic sense of the word. Enter Schlegel’s olde tyme accented “gentleman” trying to assimilate to modern day strip joints. Funny? Sure.
New York-by-way-of-Seattle Andy Haynes followed, highlighting his set with a story about his experience at Cirque du Soleil, wherein at one point, says Haynes, with the use of balloons, they floated a midget over the crowd; the story ends with some light commentary about the political correctness of the word “midget.” (Check out the video below; try to ignore the douchelord in the hat that won’t sit down.) Haynes also scored some points with me after he explained that he was a big fan of birth control, and that he calls the Plan B pill “Plan A.” Nice.
A former Last Comic Standing contestant from the current season, Baltimore’s Jason Weems took to the stage next and immediately insulted host Sean Patton for giving what Weems deemed as a crappy intro; there was nary a sign of ‘hey, just joking’ in his tone. Admittedly, a recent story about Weems allegedly chewing out another comedian via Facebook message for “stealing” a rather obvious joke about Magic Johnson speaking at Michael Jackson’s funeral (which he did in this New Faces set) probably contributed to me not connecting with his comedy. Though, you can’t deny this: he commanded the crowd like a veteran and they seemed to love him for that.
Melissa Villasenor, a woman with a shit-ton of voices in her bag of tricks (or trick?) easily kept the crowd happy with a series of impressions. Like most impressionists, segues were rough if even existent, and themes fell into the trap of, ‘Hey, what if [famous person] was put in [situation that famous person wouldn’t normally be put in]? This formula lead to Paris Hilton giving Miley Cyrus advice about producing a sex tape; Owen Wilson, Drew Barrymore, Judy Garland and Britney Spears impressions as well as impressions of Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes as American Idol judges. All of it was momentarily entertaining.
Comedian Nick Vatterott closed out the show, attempting to buoy an otherwise uninspired set of jokes with facial contortions, noises, big physical movements and a giant set list pulled from his pocket upon him – rather convincingly, actually – pretending he had totally forgotten the rest of his planned bits.