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.