Anita Wise was the talk of the 1989 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal when she performed the first week in French and the second in English and had audiences in the palm of her hand no matter what she did. Wise works in a low-key, small-voiced, even demure manner, the kind of figure easy to overlook in a crowded room until you realize she's inflicting stinging little paper cuts all around, including, occasionally, on herself. Wise's father was a World War II U.S. Army officer stationed in France; her mother was a ballet dancer for the Paris Opera. That French connection and Wise's college major in animal behavior help give her what most young stand-ups are desperately in need of: an individual point of view. She's also an exceptionally good comedy writer--her stuff is full of the richly compacted imagery Jay Leno troweled on us in his salad days--and she's currently up for a TV series based on an apartment building full of comedians, where she actually lives. "Now I can audition for the role of me and not get it," she says.