Place Des Art Cinquieme Salle played host tonight to CollegeHumor.com’s New Faces show at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival. The emcee for the evening was one time New Faces alum and comic veteran Alonzo Bodden. Any show that starts with Alonzo Bodden has a great start but the audience in Cinquieme Salle was in for a complete evening of laughs.
The night started off strong with Canadian expat Will Weldon who runs on racism and intolerance. Weldon had a very strong stage presence and excellent delivery. Leading with a strong talent is a great way to start a show.
Will Weldon was followed by Adam Cayton-Holland who was a little more low energy and also touched no race issues and the American south. Generally Holland’s set was good but lacked consistency.
Thomas Dale took the stage after Holland and probably could have held the stage for a solid twenty minutes had the time been available. Dale was a crowd pleaser and focused on differences between straights and gays and his life as a gay Italian man. Dale’s very strong set would have been hard for anyone to follow which was evidenced when Mike Drucker took the stage.
Mike Drucker is a very funny guy but being more low key and being almost motionless when delivering his entire set stood in stark contrast to the energetic Dale. It took a few jokes for the audience to warm up to the cerebral Drucker and his scattergun style but by the time he finished his set the audience was solidly in his pocket.
The shift in audience feel was palpable when Calise Hawkins, almost as if the audience decided they weren’t going to be entertained. It really was like someone had hit a switch. Hawkins had to work hard to get the audience onside with her riffs on relationships, dating and racism. She delivered a strong set in the face of a cool reception and in the end won her case.
Sean Flannery followed Calise Hawkins and started the end of the evening trend of weaker acts with weaker stage presence and poorer delivery. Flannery did manage to get some good laughs and perhaps his humor about drinking and being drunk will go over better on the college comedy circuit than at a big people’s event like Just for Laughs.
Dominc Dierkis’ observational approach to stand up was interesting though not overly funny. Dierkis did manage to keep the audience entertained with his observations about road signs and stalking and normally it would have been a decent set but on a night where the start of the evening was so strong he seemed a little flat in comparison.
Next up were the Lucas Brothers . The twin brothers redefine understated and low key. Their set was slow to start and showed a lot of potential but needed more time than they were allotted to really show what they are capable of doing. The whole show slowed down markedly when they took the stage but their set was okay.
The penultimate set of the night belonged to Mike Burns who had a weak set from start to finish with few laughs in between. Which did not leave things in good shape for Jarred Logan. As he had been doing all night Alonzo Bodden brought the audience back for Logan who promptly started to lose the audience again though he did have a strong finish about the relationship between god and poor people. It was a disappointing way to end an evening of comedy that for the most part was very entertaining.
The New Faces show definitely featured some comics who will be around for a long time to come and some of whom will become household names. If I were a betting man I would look for Calise Hawkins and Mike Drucker to end up on a screen near you sometime in the near future.