Toronto's JFL42 festival may be the best place to catch Toronto's funniest up-and-coming comedians all in one place. The festival's ongoing New Faces showcase is a whirlwind of fresh, earnest new comedians. The bill — while not without its hiccups — was about as solid as one gets with no perceivable headliner attached.
JFL42's first New Faces show was hosted at the Comedy Bar by local comedic wave-maker Steph Tolev. She was the perfect ice breaker — jovial and immune to apprehension. While some comedians might avoid laughing at their own jokes, Tolev skirts that old adage without a second thought. Perhaps it's not her own jokes she laughs at. Perhaps she's laughing at the audience. Maybe she's laughing at herself. Either way, she's infectious.
Julia Hladkowicz possessed a confidence normally off limits to your average neurotic, fucked up comedian. She above everyone seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Every comedic pause, crude gesture and outlandish punchline was delivered to hilarious effect.
In comparison to the rest of the bellowing bill, Daniel Woodrow came across about as understated as a cold slice of pizzas past. He was to the showcase as early Costello was to punk rock — by which I mean brilliant. Different, perhaps a touch more cerebral, but brilliant. Perhaps his only competition for calm and collected wit was the equally talented Steve Patrick Adams. The two should have a modest-off one day.
Chantel Marostica was a sure highlight in an already solid bill. Her subtle impressions and flair for sudden bonkers outbursts is an inspiration to exasperated madcaps everywhere. If there has to be a "best" in such a close race, it may have been Marostica.
It would have been hard to cap off the New Faces showcase with a more likeable comic than Nick Reynoldson. Self-deprecating to a fault and resembling an Italian Steve Buscemi — he is neither Italian nor the Coen Brothers' resident slime ball — Reynoldson is a walking, talking neurosis generator. His jokes were directed almost entirely at himself, his appearance and his life choices. Reynoldson is well on his way to becoming a staple of Toronto's comedy scene, provided he doesn't cut himself some slack any time soon.