2009 marks the year the theoretic stand-up-and-comers gained entry to the same comedic playground as the big kids. Previously schlepped off to the cramped Kola Note, the New Faces sweating out a pair of industry-heavy showcases are housed in the Cabaret Theatre, now sharing lobby space with Musee JPR. For another interesting switcharoo, this year’s hosts Dan Levy and Sugar Sammy are much newer faces in their own right than last year’s Dana Gould and Greg Giraldo, or Tom Papa the year before.
A delayed flight caused me to miss the first half of New Faces 2, particularly regrettable since I was looking forward to revisiting the skewed world of Moshe Kasher, who killed at LA’s Candor Comedy last month and reminds me—a bit unfairly, I confess—of Brent Weinbach. But of the four sets I caught, Rory Scovel deserved the most credit for keeping things light and in the moment. With a thick beard and flannel shirt, his slacker-oriented material was no huge surprise, though lines like “I’ve been trying to quit smoking pot. It’s hard because they keep coming out with those damn 3-D movies,” and the ability to turn a bit about driving on shrooms into a Scientology dig proved there was more to him than mere drug humor. Renee Gauthier spent her time on Boyz II Men karaoke and a gratingly over-the-top dance sequence, while low-key Eric Krug didn’t fully connect until he broke out his idea for MTV pilot “Tupac or Anne Frank?” Dan Ahdoot closed the show strong, however, citing sign language as the most racist language of all and bringing both keen intelligence and personal experience to material that might otherwise be found on the Axis of Evil cutting-room floor. (Sample line: I’m Iranian and Jewish, one of those combinations that goes together like peanut butter and…cat.”)
Later at New Faces 1, first-up Myq Kaplan stole the show early with fast-paced language-play that tackled religion, technology, the dubious legacy of Final Destination and begged for repeat listens. Andy Ritchie had the best lines of the night, quoting a PT Cruiser ad man as asking, “Hey, what if Dick Tracy was a single mom?” and bemoaning of a faulty showerhead, “Every time I want to get clean, I feel like a Civil Rights activist.” To a demonstrator who had once gotten the business end of a firehose, “Yeah, but not every day, first thing in the morning!” Closer and one of Variety‘s 2009 10 Comics to Watch Kumail Nanjiani covered mostly “cheese” (aka heroin) and the Cyclone roller coaster, but his huge likability factor and flair for theatricality sold every moment.
Unfortunately, Alex Kohl’s overly-confident hipsterisms were best saved for PBR keggers; Mike Bridenstine started strong with a withering impression of a certain Zanies owner but lost the crowd with his repeated “Bam! Yer pregant!” fake catchphrase; Chris D’Elia’s impressions of African-Americans, Germans and ex-girlfriends would play best at a ComedySportz; and Last Comic Standing vet Mary Mack’s loopy act was, er, inspired by Maria Bamford’s yet again, only this time in front of an unwitting international crowd.