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Homegrown Comic Competition

Homegrown Comic Competition

Show type: Montreal 2006

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Original Review:

As well as all the major international acts, Just For Laughs also gives newer Canadian comics this platform: a showcase final of acts picked from around the provinces.

The standard was pretty good, too. To a man – and they were all men – they were slick performers, as seems to be the norm for even the greenest of North American stand-ups, but most showed writing flair, too.

Whether any will make it as comics, it’s hard to tell. The Canadian circuit isn’t lucrative enough for there to be a well-defined career path, but all the finalists brought something to the party.

They were:>

Steven Crowder: A talented impersonator, Crowder was clearly out to impress the judge who came from Disney’s animation division with an evocative – if not amazingly funny - recreation of kids’ TV shows. Turns out, although he never mentioned it on stage, that he did once provide the voice for a children’s programme when he was 12, so this is where his career probably lies.>Greg Cochrane: Wonderfully punny and winningly weird, Cochrane’s effective and varied routine ranged from singing polar bears to a spoof rant at the world’s irritations. A strong writer and distinctive performer, who deserves to go far.

Steve Ditata: A cuddly country boy with wry material and an endearing charm, he appears genuinely pleased to be on stage, right down to chuckling agreeably at his own jokes, which ought to be irritating, but isn’t.

Jeff McEnery: With his checked shirt and fuzzy ginger hair bursting from beneath his baseball cap, McEnery – who’s already won one big Canadian talent hunt - looks every bit the rural bumpkin, and makes much of his ‘you know you’re in a small town when…’ material. But it’s his routine about being so sexually inexperienced that made him stand out.

Andrew Iwanyk: Slow to get going, Iwanyk’s set took an imaginative leap midway through with a brilliantly quirky take on the unlikely subject dead bugs that collect in light fittings. And for the last few minutes of his set, he used a flip chart which allowed him to reveal his jokes in English, as he told them in Manderin. An obvious gimmick, but an effective one, and he took the runner-up place.

Mark Forward (pictured): Perhaps the most traditional of stand-ups on the bill, and one of the strongest (the judges’ agreed –awarded him whatever prize it was that was up for grabs). His stand-out segment moaned about the coins you need to insert into shopping trolleys and came with an inspired payoff. But he blotted his copybook slightly with an awkward callback crowbarred into the end. Click for video

Todd Allen: A strong opening one-liner and a naturally entertaining delivery wasn’t enough to overcome the safeness of the material on talking dirty, cats and what our generation will be like as grandparents.

Jeffrey Yu: An ex-teacher with a nice line on the multicultural days his school used to hold, and some other strong gags besides. Marred slightly by a tendency towards familiar racial stereotypes, but he proved popular with the audience.

Rodney Ramsey: Had a loud army of supporters in the room, who greeted him as if the resurrected corpse of Richard Pryor had walked on stage, which is always offputting. Truth was, although charismatic, his set was rather ordinary, with material about bad adverts, uninsightful ‘political’ material and even getting a laugh from telling an old gag about pool being racist because the white ball controls everything.

If anyone becomes famous, remember you read about them here first…

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