I just got back from being a New Face at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal! So many great shows, so many fun after parties, so many awesome people, and so much time spent in my own head. I loved it, especially when I wasn’t over analyzing everything. I learned some lessons from my experience and I thought I’d share them with the internet in the hopes that it helps someone else doing New Faces in the future. I’m not an expert, but this is an informed opinion.
1. Know that you belong there
When you walk into a room that’s filled with comedy greats like Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Al Madrigal, and so many others it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to think “What the fuck am I doing here?” I let those thoughts creep in, and then I had to forcibly remind myself that I earned to right to be in that room. I was picked for a reason. And many of those comedy greats did New Faces years ago.
2. You have to be excited about your set
I think it’s important to run your set ahead of time so you’re comfortable with it, but not to the point it becomes boring for you. If you’re over-rehearsed, you won’t have the right energy to hit that stage. There needs to be a bit of excitement coming through to grab people.
3. Go to the panels and events
There are a lot of awesome panels that happen during the day, from interviews with acclaimed directors to panels with successful tv shows. I learned a ton at those panels and got a lot of interesting knowledge nuggets that changed my perspective on writing and performing.
4. Don’t look for someone to talk to
The times I felt most in my head was when I was looking around a room trying to find someone to meet or network with. Because when you’re not talking to someone, all the negative thoughts flood in - “Does no one want to talk to me?”, “Is everyone talking to someone else”, “Am I doing something wrong?” The reality is everyone is talking to someone and not talking to someone all the time. I think it’s better to find people you enjoy and hang out with them. If the industry wants to talk to you, they’ll find you. Don’t walk around searching for them.
5. Watch shows, but also hang out with your friends
The best part of Montreal is all the amazing shows. There are so many talented comedians there, and I wanted to watch all of them. The first night I wore myself ragged going from show to show to show. I enjoyed it, but it felt lonely as I migrated around the festival by myself. Then the next night I hung out with some of my fellow New Faces. We caught a show, but we also hung out at a cafe and talked. I’m going to remember that cafe conversation for much longer.
6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
Everyone wants to kill it on New Faces. You’re in the wrong business if you don’t. But putting pressure on yourself to kill it is the kiss of death. I think comics really become the funniest version of themselves when they stop worrying what other people think. They stop worrying about killing and just be themselves. If you’re in New Faces, you’ve already put in the work. Now just be yourself without listening to the critic in your head, and whatever happens happens. But if you think “I have to kill it”, you won’t.