New talent big at Montreal comedy fest

Tyler Hawkins wins 'Homegrown' competition

MONTREAL - Up-and-coming talent was in the spotlight Wednesday night at the 26th annual Just For Laughs comedy festival here as an annual competition of Canadian comedians and the first of two "New Faces" showcases drew big crowds of industry folks and fans alike.

As the English-language portion of JFL moved into its hot phase, Tyler Hawkins Wednesday won the annual "Homegrown" competition of Canadian standups, with Phil Hanley clinching the runner-up spot.

The competition was judged by an industry jury made up of "Chelsea Lately" talent executive Michael Cox, the Tonight Show's Ross Mark, Michelle Daly from the Comedy Network and TV Land Canada, as well as ABC/ABC Studios casting manager Billy Murphy.

Hawkins scored laughs with jokes with a tongue-in-cheek twist on men's experiences meeting women at bars ("I just wanna dance with my buddies.") and his fat buddy Dave who keeps him out of trouble.

Hanley drew a strong audience response with his stay-at-home son shtick. His opener ("I am not only a comedian, I'm also a stay-at-home son.") already had the crowd in stitches, and he followed up with punchlines about wearing his father's cardigan ("It is also a powerful contraceptive.") and his being less computer-savvy than his appearance might suggest. He closed with a relationship joke (asking why people know right away when they meet "the right one," but take a year to realize when they meet the wrong one) that led to a loud ovation from the audience.

Among other "Homegrown" performers, Dan Bingham and host Deb DiGiovanni also drew consistent laughs from the crowd.

Sean Patton in the New Faces show also earned positive reviews for his offbeat and edgy Wednesday night set about such things as picking fights and broken hearts.

At a midnight show that put the spotlight on musical comedy and was also a hot ticket among agents, managers and TV executives, the audience particularly loved online favorites Jon Lajoie with his rap about being an average guy and young Bo Burnham with his songs about love and sexuality.

Among the other acts that industry attendees of JFL were buzzing about Wednesday were one-man shows by Danny Hoch and Brendon Burns, as well as standup Maz Jobrani.

Thursday marks the start of the inaugural Just Comedy industry conference and market organized by JFL and Achilles Media.