They've got the talent, the credits and the buzz, and all are poised to make the leap to the comedic Big Leagues in 2012. Here are the individuals, groups and projects that will have Los Angeles talking -- and more important, laughing -- next year. Some are our picks, but some are selections from those in the know.
July was a good month for the 24-year-old North Carolina native, what with performing on Just For Laughs Montreal's New Faces showcase and being named one of Variety's 10 Comics to Watch in the same week. It'll be tough high to repeat, but then again Carmichael isn't one for doing the same thing twice. He's notorious for bringing untested yet brilliant shooting-the-shit observations to the stage with a deliberate, almost languid control, a highly impressive feat from an industry point of view. From the audience's perspective, he's simply composed, confident and killing it every single time.
Picked by Jake Kroeger, TheComedyBureau.com, who says: "Do not blame The Walsh Brothers for bringing planking to the U.S. Yes, they were pretty much the first Stateside plankers in a viral video they released earlier this year, but like so much of what siblings Chris and David Walsh do with their absurdist, prankster-driven comedy, it was just an act of unfiltered fun made to bring mirth to everyone watching. In their monthly UCB comedy-variety show they have had audience plants, "Surprise Disco," a band with just five bassists, "The Blue Angels Walking Squad" and more hysterical pandemonium. Whenever or wherever you see them, it's an unforgettable experience."
Fresh off the bobsled from Toronto, the Just For Laughs Montreal and San Francisco Sketchfest vet has established herself as one of L.A.'s top female talents, winning fans like Zach Galifianakis, Jon Dore, Paul F. Tompkins and Jon Hamm with her smart, sweet, thoroughly original, highly nonsensical and often musical characterizations of her own feverish brain. In addition to her loopy yet magnetic stage presence, her resume boasts acclaimed sketch work, writing for MTV, voicing a handful of animated characters and comprising half of duo Phillips & Crown, whose mini-operettas were recently nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award.
Picked by Jazz Ponce, booker for Monday-night staple What's Up, Tiger Lily?: "Rob O'Reilly is a great joke writer accomplishing what few have succeeded at: re-energizing the lost art of the pun, which is evident when you hear his ten-part pun involving a Native American. Not limited to puns, though, his tales of a "Pussy Whisperer" or raping water slides leave you craving more. He also produces a fun monthly show called Hand Shucked and along with his sketch group The StraightMen (featuring comedian Barry Rothbart) has written hilarious and creative sketches that rival anything being shown on late-night TV. Rob is Punny and, well, for once that's a compliment!"
The Groundlings and UCB fixture's characters speak in schizophrenic lists, often require heavy makeup and are always brilliant; none combines these traits as effectively or has made such an impact as his Chloe Sevigny "impressions." In dozens of videos, Droege, as the name-dropping, accent-tripping actress, keeps "America" up to date on her birthday gifts (imitation pants, a high-heeled purse, permission to never speak to Jeanne Tripplehorn again), her vacation options ("Shall I traverse the whistling wheat fields of Wichita? The bustling and violent streets of Bejing, really the only place to get a duck-embryo taco? Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina, featuring Mountain Dew Margaritas, Deep-Friend Dorito Burger Sandwiches, and Cherry Ranch?") and even her budding comedy career ("Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Natasha Lyonne." "Natasha Lyonne who?" "Just kidding, she's in the hospital with Hepatitis C...is this thing on?"). The work speaks -- haughtily and hilariously -- for itself.
Picked by Emily Gordon, booker/producer at Meltdown Comics' Nerdist Theater: "I see a lot of comedy, and the comics that get me the most excited about standup are Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson. They are two-fifths of the sketch group DERRICK, but in the past year, they've proven that they are formidable standups as well. Dominic tells relatable, hilarious stories about miscommunication and rocks falling, DC does well-written bits about how bitter his imagination is now that porn is so readily available, but what both of these comics have is that rare, hilarious-in-the-moment quality. They're charming, they're smart, and you can tell they love being on stage."
She had already appeared on FrankTV (expectedly) and Family Guy (awesomely), but it was the 2011 America's Got Talent quarterfinals (in which she channeled Owen Wilson, judge Sharon Osbourne, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Judy Garland) and semifinals (Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Shakira and Christina Aguilera) that cemented the Laugh Factory regular as the country's top young vocal impressionist. Villasenor's recent Dorie Theatre one-woman show I'm Not Myself was directed by none less than Tomorrow! variety-show ringleader Ron Lynch. Plus her first college tour kicks off in January, and spankin' new Happy Loner web series promises to showcase her combined talents of drawing, poetry and brutal self-analysis.
How best to follow appearances on Curb your Enthusiasm, Hot in Cleveland and as a phone-distracted coworker ("You know you can't take Allegra with orange juice...FYI.") in that citrus-averse Zyrtec commercial? With an eponymous Adult Swim talk show spoof, of course. The Eric Andre Show debuts June 24, features Awkward Kings of Comedy co-star Hannibal Buress as Andre's sidekick, and has been described as "Imagine Charlie Rose on Salvia, then mix in elements from hyperactive Japanese game shows and Seventies-era New York public access, and you will begin to visualize Eric's playpen of hysteria." Until then, watch videos documenting the show's progression on his (downright exasperating) website and catch his live standup in all its ricocheting, gonzo glory.
Picked by Alf LaMont, Comedy Store Director of Marketing and Development: "Ari's Skeptic Tank podcast shines through an already saturated terrain as he discusses life's issues with friends and peers with the same courage and disregard for sensibilities that made his 'Amazing Racist' character surprisingly popular. His storyteller series at the Improv Lab builds on an incredible ability to not only get to the root of his chosen subject, but inspire well-known names to do the same on themes ranging from Jail Time to Lost Virginity. Add to that arsenal a gifted comic unyielding in his art and continuously developing new material, and you have a real force to be reckoned with. When I last asked what he was working on for 2012, Ari responded, 'My nutsack.' I can only assume that will be the title of his autobiography."
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1. Action Figure Therapy
The low-budget brainchild of Dan Bialek features help from Jarrod Harris, Andrew DeWitt, Jerry Rocha, Karl Hess, Asterios Kokkinos, Mike Black, Zach Ames and David Taylor, who together have managed to tally 14 million (and counting) hits in one year of existence. Who knew a bunch of off-brand GI Joes bitching about their jobs, uniforms, sexual conquests and run-ins with the law could not only galvanize legions of real-life military personnel, but spawn a live tour, rumored animated series and healthy merch sales? As fan-fave character Jungle Recon would say, "It's like a mustache with titties!"
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