Timing really can be everything. With this year's crop of New Faces at Montreal's Just For Laughs, that was most certainly the case on Wednesday night (aka the second of three nights for the two groups of hopeful stand-ups, but really the first (and maybe only) night to impress the agents, managers and comedy bookers arriving from New York City, Los Angeles and points beyond the Canadian border). It's more than just the timing of your jokes that matter. What time is your show: 7 p.m. or 9:15 p.m? Did your show start on time? Did you time it right to hit the right shuttle, and not get lost and find yourselves looking at the city's skyline from across the bridge? Where are you in the lineup? How far along in your career are you when you're faced with being a New Face?
And if you've been riding along with me for this lifetime comedy joyride for more than a New York minute, then you know some of these faces are not exactly new to you or me. So let us take all of this into account when processing what went down Wednesday night for our two groups of New Faces in Montreal's Cabaret Juste Pour Rire. (Pictured at right: Nick Vatterott) They'll all have one more chance tonight at New Faces (some will also be featured in other themed showcases around the festival).
Here is the list everyone in comedy has been waiting for the past year to see, your New Faces at the 2010 Just For Laughs Montreal comedy festival, performing for live audiences and the industry of show business tonight, Wednesday and Thursday...
What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
Mike Lawrence (pictured by Mindy Tucker) may not have won either the Comix "March Madness" nor the Carolines "Final Four" competition this year, though he gave it a good run. Lawrence also was nominated for an ECNY as an emerging comic. And he's definitely got an interesting perspective on life, which shines through in his stand-up. Get to know him! He's emerging!
Name: Mike Lawrence
Arrival date: Jan. 14, 2007 (My birthday, and boy did I bomb that night. The place I ate it at has at least closed down but my memory of that night will always remain open)
Arrived from: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started at the Chocolate Moose Coffeehouse on Nov. 5 2005. I'm a very sentimental guy and remember it well. I had done poetry at that place for a few years and just decided that maybe comedy was the better option to artistically express what I was feeling. I had just lost part of my roof in Hurricane Wilma, wrote my first few jokes on a manual typewriter (What idealistic English major doesn't own one of those) and the rest as they say is open mic history.
What was your best credit before moving here? I was the runner-up in a contest at the Miami Improv. I won a turkey.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I picked New York for 2 reasons. The first is that I can't drive because of a motor-skill impairment and this city has great public transportation and doesn't make me feel like a useless cripple the way Florida did. I'm still an emotional cripple, but at least I don't have to beg and fork over tons of gas money to get to gigs. The second is that I'm a gigantic comic book fan and I grew up loving the Marvel Comics version of New York. I live ten minutes away from Spider-mans childhood home in Forrest Queens and have done stand-up across the street where Dr. Strange's Sanctum Santorum is. Well, you know...It means something to me!