Just for Laughs, Day 2

Kyle Kinane, more New Faces and the Just for Laughs keynote address crowd our schedule as we get into the thick of the comedy fest.

Kyle Kinane

Kyle Kinane

Colin Quinn, who indeed wore a suit to give his keynote address, had his reservations (“How old do you have to be when they ask you to be the serious one?”), but still had something to say to industry personnel and comics alike. He got heckled by Todd Glass, meandered about while making his points and had the courage to take down amateur comics (“Open mikers: You stink, but you think you’re great”). In other words, it was highly worthwhile. More on this later, but the long and the short of it: Quinn made some cogent points without any outright takedowns.

During the New Faces: Characters showcase, Samantha Martin did a memorable impression of Björk ordering a pizza, warbling demands including “the blood of a tomato” and “silver waterbound creatures” (“Er, you mean anchovies?” asked the pizza man). Conner O’Malley is an imaginative writer whose portraits of a man convincing his city council that he was assaulted by Shrek and a Staten Island douche becoming a character in his own Entourage spec script were strangely convincing. Former local John Milhiser showed a great physicality throughout, most especially as a school musical director excitedly mirroring the kids onstage during their big debut (the moves became bigger and more disturbingly sexual as he went along).

It’s surprising that New York transplant Joe Zimmerman doesn’t have representation; during the New Faces: Unrepped showcase, he exhibited a polish and command in his material about Bigfoot enthusiasts and choosing a snake as a pet rather than a dog (“It’s the opposite of a rescue, it’s an attack”) that was matched only by Denver’s Andrew Orvedahl. For his part, Orvedahl forgets sometimes that he’s divorced and panics about whether he lost his wedding ring: “Oh right, I lost it…in a conversation.” (Hear this bit and more on his album Hit the Dick Lights. It’s recommended.)

I’d heard, but never seen, L.A.-based Kyle Kinane do an hour. Sitting with him for that amount of time further confirms his ability to transform the mundane; he notices peculiar things about very quotidian moments, stretching them out, further and further, until you realize he’s not only expanded this tiny thing the size of a canvas, but that he’s also painted something sad, silly and beautiful on it—a wily
Mona Lisa with dark circles under her eyes. For example, 15 years ago, an underage party was interrupted by the appearance of a cop; the room fell silent as all the drunk and stoned teenage and early-twenties partygoers tried to figure out if they were getting busted. Eventually the cop snapped out of them and told them he was in the building because someone died upstairs. Though it was some kind of relief, Kinane felt something else: “I’d rather have a court date than know I was dancing beneath my mortality for the last four hours.”

Big Jay Oakerson’s Midnight Surprise show had a novel concept; all comics were meant to roast the first two rows and, between the acts, the audience was made to rotate so everyone had a chance to take a hit from a comic. As anyone who’s seen Oakerson knows, this kind of crowd work makes him feel at home, and he’s great at it. His guests (Nick Turner, Todd Glass, Jeff Ross and others) were solid, but none of them quite stuck to the plan; the space itself was also not quite conducive to shuffling people to and fro. It’s a fun conceit, and should work even better with the right theater and comedians who are ready to pounce.

Should be another mind-expanding evening for me, including sitting down with Tig Notaro and the festival’s big ticket, Dave Chappelle. Also, I hear good things about this poutine…. Apparently, it’s the french fries that try to kill you.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)


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