Just for Laughs Unveils Plans for 2021 Hybrid Comedy Festival

Just for Laughs Festival 2016 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of JFL

The Montreal event, run by a consortium led by ICM and Howie Mandel, will return to its traditional July dates this year after going virtual in October 2020 amid the pandemic.

The Just for Laughs comedy festival, run by a consortium led by ICM and Howie Mandel, has unveiled plans for a hybrid 39th edition this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, fest organizers said the traditionally in-person festival in Montreal will return to its annual dates from July 15-31, 2021. Just For Laughs last year was delayed from late July to October and went entirely virtual in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This year, Just For Laughs will determine nearer to July the extent of the in-person stand-up comedy performances it can hold in comedy clubs, halls or arenas in Montreal.

"In the coming months, the festival will determine the scope and nature of the live and online performances; However, fans and industry can rest assured that their favourite stand-up performances, star-studded in conversations, powerful and poignant keynote speeches will all be included in the mix," the festival said in a statement.

Such visibility on when Montreal venues can reopen with sizable audiences, if at all this summer, is key as stand-up comedy traditionally depends on the energy of a live audience to drum up laughter.

At the same time, Just For Laughs' comedy industry conference, ComedyPRO, will take place fully online this year as international comics, including from New York City and Los Angeles, may yet be unable to attend the annual showcase for the industry's hottest stand-up talent due to pandemic travel restrictions.

The JFL comedy festival has traditionally hosted Los Angeles and New York talent scouts eyeing the "next big thing" for Hollywood sitcoms and movie roles.