Just For Laughs Unveils Lineup for Pandemic-Era Virtual Comedy Festival

Kevin Hart attends Michael Rubin's Fanatics Super Bowl Party - Getty -H 2020
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Howie Mandel, Kenya Barris, Sarah Cooper, Amber Ruffin will perform and Kevin Hart will help curate the Oct. 9-10 showcase of Hollywood stand-up talent.

The Just For Laughs comedy festival, run by a consortium including ICM Partners, Howie Mandel and Bell Media, has unveiled stand-up talent picks for its first-ever virtual event in October.

Mandel, Hannah Gadsby, Kenya Barris, Tituss Burgess, Sarah Cooper, Andy Kindler and Amber Ruffin are among the first wave of stand-up talent announced to perform online after Just For Laughs postponed its 2020 edition amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And Kevin Hart, besides opening Just For Laughs on Oct. 9 with Judd Apatow via a virtual conversation about their careers, will see his global comedy brand, Laugh Out Loud, become the official festival programming partner. Hart's streaming platform's Lol X! live event and and experiential division will curate its own digital comedy room within the festival, with a mix of live stand-up performances, virtual panel discussions and a live podcast.

Chelsea Handler will also feature in her own Just For Laughs virtual conversation, while Jimmy Carr; Noel Fielding, the writer behind The Mighty Boosh; and Ronny Chieng of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah are also set for their own virtual conversations.

And Gina Yashere, co-creator and star of Bob Hearts Abishola will give a virtual keynote address, with Wanda Sykes moderating.

Other comedy artists booked into Just For Laughs' free, virtual festival include Jo Koy, Nicole Byer, Trixie Mattel, Deanne Smith and Jenny Hagel. Just For Laughs for its pandemic-era 2020 edition will feature multiple virtual comedy rooms to run simultaneously during both days, with a full schedule to be announced in the coming weeks.

Digital audience members will log onto www.hahaha.com, the festival's official website, and click onto individual comedy rooms to watch performances. Festival organizers tout their digital platform as allowing audiences to move between comedy club rooms much as they moved between Montreal nightclubs and concert stages during pre-pandemic Just For Laughs editions.

“As a leader in the global comedy industry, but also as a true digital comedy pioneer, we are very proud to offer this special edition in an optimized free edition format, enabling us to do what we do best, curating and creating the best of comedy, while making it more accessible than ever, to all fans across the globe," Charles Décarie, president and CEO of the Just for Laughs Group, said in a statement.

Just For Laughs organizers are aiming for a more traditional in-person festival in 2021 post-pandemic.

Sept. 29, 6 a.m. Updated with additional lineup announcements by the Just For Laughs festival.