Louis C.K. and Martin Short on Just For Laughs Sydney Duty

8:48 AM PST 09/03/2011 by Etan Vlessing
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Sydney Opera House plays host to the Canadian comedy festival's first Australian festival, which includes Margaret Cho, Demetri Martin and Russell Howard in its talent lineup.

TORONTO -- Definitely not the opera: Just For Laughs boss Bruce Hills has spent the weekend pretty much in awe as he waves Louis C.K., John Cleese and Martin Short on stage at the Sydney Opera House to make Australians laugh.

“This is one of the great experiences of my producing career, to be in this prestigious complex, and sitting out and looking at Sydney Harbor bridge," Hills said by phone from Sydney as he gets set to wrap Just For Laughs Sydney’s inaugural September 1 to 4 run.

Montreal’s Just For Laughs event has spun-off festivals in Toronto, Chicago and Singapore.

Hills explained Just For Laughs long had interest from Australian cities in bring its comedic talent on tour down under.

So the Canadian festival hooked up with Australian comedy promoter Adrian Bohm and the Sydney Opera House, which wanted to add a signature comedy event to its schedule, to stage a first-time Australian event.

The Just For Laughs Sydney program includes solo shows by Short, Louis C.K., Demetri Martin, Dylan Moran, Margaret Cho and Russell Howard, as well as the same artists taking part in two International comedy galas hosted by Cleese.

And Bohm is staging solo tours in select Australian cities by Louis C.K., Short, Cho and others.

Just For Laughs Sydney is using two of the five theatres in the Sydney Opera House, and its biggest halls.

Next year, Just For Laughs will look to fill the remaining three smaller theaters with more intimate stand-up comedy shows.

And there’s talk of outdoor programming from Just For Laughs, which typically surrounds its Montreal comedy clubs and concert halls with street theater.

Hills said official attendance figures for Just For Laughs Sydney won’t be available before Tuesday, but estimates between 90 and 95 percent capacity in the two concert halls so far.

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