Just for Laughs not just for Montreal anymore

Comedy festival set for Toronto in July

TORONTO -- Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy festival on Wednesday unveiled plans for an inaugural event in July in Toronto.

Just for Laughs COO Bruce Hills said at a news conference that the first Toronto event will comprise three nights of indoor galas and two days of outdoor street theater July 26-28. Unlike Montreal, the event will be geared toward the public and contain no industry component.

While Hills was tight-lipped about bookings, he insisted that the comedy star wattage will reflect the best talent to appear in Montreal during the past 25 years, with a strong contingent of American stand-up artists thrown into the mix.

"We'll have the biggest names in comedy, including artists from Ireland, the U.K. and even the Middle East," he said, in addition to a big turnout of Canadian talent.

The city of Toronto contributed $CAN500,000 ($427,000) to the anticipated CAN$3 million ($2.5 million) budget for JFL Toronto, with the Ontario provincial government putting in another $CAN400,000 ($341,000).

Local politicians are betting that Just for Laughs Toronto could grow into as much of a tourist draw as the Toronto International Film Festival.

The JFL fest in Montreal, which has separate English- and French-language programs, attracts about 2 million visitors a year, roughly a quarter of them tourists.

The English-language component at the tail end of JFL in Montreal has traditionally attracted Los Angeles talent scouts and executives looking for talent for film, TV and other projects.
comments powered by Disqus