Widely regarded as the best comedy festival in the world, Montreal's Just for Laughs fest is currently underway, with a lineup that you probably shouldn't even bother looking at unless you want to make yourself feel terrible for not being there. (Dave Chappelle is reportedly performing SEVEN SHOWS.)
And two of our best locals are there too: Ian Karmel landed a spot in the New Faces of Comedy showcase, and Shane Torres got a spot in the showcase New Faces of Comedy: Unrepped (for comics who don't already have agents).
I asked Ian just what it means for a young comic to land a spot on these showcases. "It's a big deal," he explained. "It's a wonderful recognition of your talent and potential, kind of like the comedy world saying 'I see you, you're on the right path.' I've heard people describe it as the comedy equivalent of graduating from Harvard, which I think is a good comparison. It will open doors, but you still have to work really, really hard if you want to make it—also you have to make sure you aren't an asshole."
"Having two New Faces says a lot about Portland as a comedy scene," Karmel continued. "This is city is so fucking good for developing original comedians. Portland audiences encourage and reward authenticity, I think, and that helps you develop as an authentic comic and that's what festivals like Just For Laughs want to see. For the younger comics in the scene, seeing comedians like Ron Funches, Shane Torres and myself get these opportunities, it's going to encourage them to keep becoming the best, funniest versions of themselves... as opposed to what they think makes 'the best comedians.'"
The Mercury writes a lot about the Portland comedy scene—and having past and current Portlanders Ian, Shane, Ron Funches, and Matt Braunger all performing in Montreal this week is a good validation of why we do it. Big-time Mercury congrats to Ian and Shane—here's hoping good things happen as a result.