A Comedic Crap Shoot Hosted by a Legend: A review of New Faces: Unrepped

new faces unrepped just for laughs

Any Just for Laughs show that has words like “faces” in the title is always a bit of a crapshoot. You know for sure that you’re going to enjoy the host who is usually a comic legend but the remaining roster generally consists of comics, good and bad, who are yet unheard of and hoping to make a name for themselves on the Just for Laughs stage. The Just for Laughs show New Faces: Unrepped was no exception.

New Faces: Unrepped consisted of a slew of American comedians trying to bag an agent or gig. The audience consisted primarily of industry reps and agents looking to find their next star.

The show was hosted by comic legend George Wallace, who was doing a one-man show later in the week. By his own admission, Wallace had no material ready to host New Faces and opted instead to work the crowd.

Host George Wallace (photo Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)
Host George Wallace (photo: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)

He clearly knew none of the comics performing that night and was reminiscent of a kind, well-meaning uncle who invites a ton of people to a barbeque but has absolutely no idea who any of them are. Despite his lack of preparedness, he remained the show’s star.

The show was a mixed bag with every stereotype represented. You had the clean cut white sarcastic guys, JP McDade, Danny Palumbo, and Brendan Lynch, the snarky smiling feminist comedian, Molly Ruben Long, a sassy black woman, Janelle James, some African American males, Neko White and JB Ball, a few ethnic comedians, Ismail Loutfi and Raoul Sanchez, one Zach Galafianakis clone, Casey Crawford, and one creep, Geoffrey Asmus.

JP McDade was the kind of comedian one would want for a major American sitcom. He’s white, blond, cute and snarky, perfect for shows like How I Met Your Mother that appeal to white audiences who want to laugh at other white people. His comedy was good but not great and his delivery clearly needs a little refining because his jokes were spaced so far apart the audience lost him at least half the time.

Next up was Ismail Loutfi, a Muslim American comedian. Unlike the other comedians that night, his comedy was largely political, bravely tackling issues of Islamophobia and American ignorance of Muslim American culture. To keep the audience going, he peppered his routine with a lot of self-deprecation and unlike the other comedians that night, his material was by far the most interesting, if not the funniest.

African American comedian Neko White clearly has a lot of potential. His delivery and timing were spot on which made up for the occasional lame joke. He started his routine by announcing that he was from Harlem and bravely addressed the issue of gang violence in the US in his comedy.

Raul Sanchez could only be described as OK. His delivery was OK, his jokes about incarceration were OK, and as a comedian he came off as just OK.

JB Ball was the other African American male comedian on the roster and his delivery and the timing of jokes were also spot on. The problem is that his jokes were mostly sexist towards women, which is FINE provided the jokes are funny, which they weren’t.

Casey Crawford of North Dakota was by far the funniest of the bunch. Clad in an Expos T-shirt and Canadiens hat, Crawford seemed desperate to win over Canadian audiences. As it turns out he didn’t need the gimmicky outfit, undoubtedly the product of a gift shop raid. Crawford’s jokes were FUNNY and his style had the adorable awkwardness reminiscent of Zach Galafianakis.

casey crawford
Casey Crawford (photo: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs)

Molly Ruben-Long was the feminist comedian of the night. I’m all for feminist comedy and I’m all for female comedians, but her jokes were lame, so while I found myself silently cheering her, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh.

Janelle James is an ex dominatrix who moved to white suburbia. Her jokes were funny but not bend over funny. As the oldest and most charismatic performer that night, she deserves a shot but ageism is probably going to play a role in whether she gets it.

Brendan Lynch was funny and self-deprecating in a way that was kinda charming. He’d be another good casting choice for a snarky white sitcom character.

Geoffrey Asmus was the most memorable of the comedian not because he was good, but because he was BAD.

Asmus’ stage persona is one of a sanctimonious entitled chronically ill white male with delusions of grandeur. He began his routine by physically attacking a member of the audience who was cheering him, before describing a medical condition with such specificity there was no doubt he actually had it.

He talked of being a virgin who’s never masturbated in a way that was more painful than funny. He claimed that not engaging in sexual activity allowed him to hone his intellect and bragged that he knew everything.

Asmus claimed that he even knew about Canadian Prime Ministers and asked the audience to name one. I turned to my partner and bet him that I could stump the guy after which I called out “Diefenbaker” (the Prime Minister in the 60s who had a rivalry with JFK). Asmus said Diefenbaker was a white male, hardly remarkable given that nearly ALL Canada’s Prime Ministers were white males, in other words: I won.

Asmus’ performance was barely wiped out by the final performer of the night, Danny Palumbo.

Palumbo clearly wears a mustache to hide the fact that without it he’d probably look like a twelve year old boy. He was snarky and funny, and as a foodie, his comedy about culinary ignorance appealed to me. Unfortunately a lot of his jokes were the boring passive-male-in-a-relationship stuff that’s been WAY overdone in comedy.

Shows like New Faces: Unrepped are something to experience at least once. In them you get to see a legend work the audience with grace and see potential up and comers work their magic while others crash and burn.

* Featured image: Felicia Michaels, courtesy Just for Laughs

7 comments

  • I love how in your critiques you layout such a funny premise, with a solid punchline at the end, in such a dismissive manner that you almost make me wonder if you’re trying to be funny yourself? I sure hope not. You obviously missed the humor that these people have put work into crafting, and instead of owning that shortcoming, decided that your narrow-minded understanding was sufficient to apply across all of these performers. I can just tell from the smug tone of all of this condescension that you were watching with a personal belief that you could have easily gone up and done better than all of the comedians you watched. You couldn’t have, though.

  • This review is garbage.

    Even when the reviewer was complimentary towards an act, she wrote some backhanded comment. It’s almost as if her idea of a review is to just be mean about the people who were sold a dream and were forced to perform under awful conditions.

    George Wallace didn’t do any prepared material? That’s not a good thing. He, like all comics, should have done a tight five minutes before the show started to get the room used to comedy. Crowdwork in these showcases is not the way to go.

    Also, the venue was half full given the fact that word had gotten out that the show was sold out when it in ACTUAL FACT was not in any way close. These showcases are meant for industry to scope out new talent, but this year’s programming team decided to put arguably the most important showcase mid-festival at 11pm, a move that I would call disrespectful at the very least. Not to mention that the Unrepped show was held in a completely different venue from their represented counterparts.

    On top of all this, having not been there myself, but heard tell by many, many people, there was a heckler in the audience. A heckler who was not dealt with or ejected from the venue. As far as these showcases go, the acts are told to not deviate from the set that they performed when they submitted to become a New Face.

    Onto the prestige: New Faces is an institution. New Faces has launched careers from all showcases, whether repped, characters or unrepped. The past has shown that getting this showcase spot is a really big deal. However, the biggest comedy festival in the world sold them a dream they could not back up.

    To this reviewer: Give the whole story. Get off your fucking high horse and start reporting things that also matter contextually. Stand-up comedy is an artform that is best enjoyed live and when you retell the tale of a show, it is important to let people know that contributed to your disinterest or how little you enjoyed yourself. It is important to not rip on young comedians who are ostensibly part of the new wave of up-and-coming comedians who you WILL SEE all over the place in the future when really the problem seems to lie in your pessimism and your inability to report the entire event.

    Thanks for nothing. This article is an embarrassment.

  • PLEASE NOTE: As this review critiques certain comic’s performances, we of course will publish comments critical of the review and even writing style. In accordance with our comments policy, we will not publish personal attacks or racist or sexist comments in this space.

  • Written by someone who seems to know nothing about comedy. They let you review your first show? I honestly thought this was a joke, but the writer clearly has no sense of humor. Comedy journalism should be done by someone who knows that the host doing crowd work and clearly phoning it in is a bad thing.

  • This review is ridiculous. It’s almost written so poorly, that trying to address any single part of it would be an exercise in tedium.

    Instead, I’ll simply ask the reviewer to consider the idea that reducing what was clearly a diverse roster of comics in various stages of development to a list of stereotypes, and then judging them based on his/her own preconceived notions of their comedy in the framework of those stereotypes, is lazy. It’s also unfunny and stinks of an attempt to prove that the reviewer is more clever than any of the performers. Do better.

    While the reviewer is attempting to do better, he or she could consider the incredibly offensive use of the word “ethnic” in this review.

  • This whole review is 100% garbage, as any thinking, feeling person can attest, but watering Janelle James down to “sassy black woman” is so deeply offensive, borderline racist and a gross mischaracterization of her act.

    You are bad at your job.

  • Stick to law lol

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