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A look back at 25 years of funny, courtesy of Just For Laughs:
1983Juste Pour Rire (aka Just For Laughs) debuts as a two-night, French-language comedy festival in Montreal.
1985 Just For Laughs premieres its first English-language gala, which is taped for Canadian television. The lineup includes Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.
1988 JFL takes over Montreal’s Quartier Latin for outdoor performances and events; attendance at the festival jumps to more than 1 million, and segments air live on HBO in a special hosted by John Candy.
1989 Lenny Clark and Craig Ferguson, who appear at the festival, both ink deals. Rowan Atkinson tests a new character, “Mr. Bean,” which leads to a BBC sale. Richard Jeni inaugurates what will become, after his 2007 passing, “The Richard Jeni One-Person Show Series.”
1990 JFL signs a three-year deal with Showtime and MTV. Tim Allen, still relatively unknown, wins a Cable ACE Award for his gala performance (beating Billy Crystal in the process).
1993 Steve Harvey inks a deal at JFL with ABC to star in his own sitcom “Me and the Boys.”
1995 JFL appears on U.S. network television for the fist time, in a Fox comedy special hosted by David Schwimmer.
1996 JFL launches New Faces of Comedy, a showcase for unsigned, promising talent. The fest also tours Canada and begins producing tours in other countries.
1999 Having been the longest-running stand-up series on the U.K.’s Channel Four, JFL signs with the BBC for a series; viewers average 4 million.
2000 Orny Adams’ JFL festival experiences are taped for Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedian” film, which comes out two years later.
2001 JFL welcomes “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” featuring Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy for two benefit shows. The following year, Ron White signs with Fox at the festival.
2004 JFL presents a new kind of event, Fox’s “Family Guy” Live, which puts creators and cast members on stage for live scene readings. The show hits the road for sold-out performances in L.A. and New York City.
2006 Franco Dragone (who has produced shows for Celine Dion and Cirque du Soleil) signs on with JFL to create a nonverbal comedy show for launch at the 2007 festival.
2007 JFL turns 25 and expands its event to Toronto for three days of comedy. Attendance is expected to top 2 million, making the festival one of the biggest comedy events in the world.
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