During a normal year, the annual Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal reveals its long list of up-and-coming comedians featured in the “New Faces” showcase. 2020 is anything but a normal year, however, and that is certainly reflected in this year’s New Faces, which Just for Laughs has revealed to Vulture. Instead of including the usual categories for stand-up comedians (New Faces of Comedy), sketch performers (New Faces: Characters), comedians without managers (New Faces: Unrepped), and digital-content creators, (New Faces: Creators), this year, New Faces only features picks from the latter “Creators” category, given that the pandemic has thrown a wrench in live comedy as we know it. It’s a small but exclusive list that features Tonight Show writers and “Moves Like Bloomberg” creators Brad Evans and Nick Ciarelli, Twitter front-facing video darling Caleb Hearon, Los Angeles–based stand-up and YouTuber J. Snow, filmmaker and Broadway-musical-number-impersonation expert Mary Neely, and former CollegeHumor cast member and head writer Rekha Shankar.
On April 3, the Just for Laughs festival announced that it would postpone this year’s event, then in July revealed that the show will go on via an online festival, calling it “an opportunity to rethink how comedy festivals can operate in a virtual space.” The virtual festival will run on October 9 and 10, and the “New Faces: Creators” showcase is scheduled for Friday, October 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. More information will be available this week on the JFL website.
Here’s a brief breakdown of this year’s New Faces, including bios for each creator via JFL’s press release and some of their more popular videos.
Brad Evans & Nick Ciarelli
Nick Ciarelli & Brad Evans are writers for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, having joined the show’s sketch staff in March. Prior to that, they wrote, directed, and starred in a series of videos that got over 10 million views on Twitter this past year. Most notable of those videos was the fake Mike Bloomberg campaign dance “Moves Like Bloomberg,” which became national news and fooled Ted Cruz, Breitbart.com, and Trump sons Eric and Donald Jr. into sharing it.
Nick and Brad sometimes perform their own material on The Tonight Show and on the podcast Comedy Bang Bang, in addition to writing the popular Comedy Bang Bang characters Martin Sheffiled-Lickley (performed by Drew Tarver) and Memphis Kansas Breeze (performed by Carl Tart and Drew Tarver). They also wrote for truTV’s Billy on the Street, for projects in development at Comedy Central and TBS, and produced and hosted the live sketch show Atlantic City, which had a three-year sold-out run at UCB LA. They were recently profiled in Fast Company, Vulture, and The Ringer.
Caleb Hearon is a comedian at whom nobody has ever been mad. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he is a writer for Netflix’s spinoff of their hit show Big Mouth which is entitled Human Resources. In 2020, Variety named Caleb one of their Top Comics to Watch. Caleb started his career in Chicago where he performed every week at iO Chicago, Second City, The Hideout, and on Twitter if video monologues count. He can be seen on Showtime’s Work in Progress and on FX’s Fargo. He’s originally from Missouri where he was raised by four strong women — his mother, Kellie, and the Dixie Chicks.
Originally from Compton, J. Snow is an L.A.-based stand-up comic, writer, actor, and director. He’s achieved a digital footprint of over 30+ million views from his personal YouTube channel and the wildly popular All Def Digital. In television, J. Snow has produced for MTV’s Fear Factor, Wild ‘n Out, Safeword, VH1’s Hip Hop Squares and more. He’s opened for world-famous stand-up comics Ron White and Marlon Wayans. Snow most recently wrote, directed, and starred in his award-winning short film Flawd.
Mary Neely is a director, writer, and actor born and raised in Los Angeles. As a director, her short films, web series, and music videos have screened at South by Southwest, opening night of Palm Springs ShortFest, RIFF (2X Golden Egg Nominee), as well as many others including being Staff Picked by Vimeo and featured on Short of the Week, i-D, Refinery29, and Paper. Her short film Pink Trailer played as a pre-feature short before Booksmart at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee. As an actor, Mary has been cast in some of the most successful commercial campaigns of the last six years as well as appearing in videos for BuzzFeed, Legendary, Nerdist, AwesomenessTV, Comedy Central, Funny or Die, and WhoHaHa. Mary had a co-star role in Netflix’s The Good Cop, starred in Eli Russell Linnetz’s Afterglow, and has a supporting role in MGM’s Valley Girl, directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg.
Rekha Shankar is currently writing on Netflix’s Magic for Humans and prior to that was the head writer/performer for CollegeHumor. She stars in the new Between Two Ferns movie and was a writer on Netflix’s sketch comedy series Astronomy Club, executive produced by Kenya Barris and Dan Powell. She is an improviser at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre LA and she is also the writer/creator of Hustle, which was an Official Selection at the New York Television Festival. She has also written for a Hari Kondabolu pilot (truTV) and a Mike Kelton pilot (MTV), and improvised for UCBT NY’s Harold Night and UCB’s Touring Company. Also — check out the quarter-hour mockumentary series Gods of Food Rekha created for CollegeHumor’s Dropout streaming platform.