Just for Laughs brings the funny

Deal-making takes backseat to performances at fest

TORONTO -- Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy festival wrapped over the weekend, with local Canadian talent dominating this year's yukfest.

There was less deal-making in Montreal, with fest highlights being command performances and award-giving on stage. These included Toronto comic Russell Peters selling over 11,000 tickets for one show at the Bell Center, which earned him an award for the top-selling comic artist ever at Just for Laughs.

Halifax comic Mark Little beat out runner-up Graham Chittenden and seven other Canadian standups to win the homegrown comic competition.

And Canadian comic Mike MacDonald received a lifetime achievement award for performing in 24 Just for Laughs festivals.

Festival organizers, who reported in all $11 million in ticket receipts for performances by 718 Englis- and French-language comic performers, also pointed to stand-out performances in Montreal by Canadian talent Caroline Rhea, Martin Short, Pete Zedlacher, Tim Nutt and Gerry Dee.

Break-outs in the New Faces comedy showcase included Moshe Kasher, Chris D'Elia, Mike Bridenstine, Pete Holmes and Al Jackson, who gave their best seven minutes in front of Los Angeles talent scouts and studio execs during six New Faces shows over three nights.

Other festival highlights included Monty Python alumnus John Cleese bouncing back from an illness earlier in the week to host two galas at the St. Denis Theatre on Sunday night.

Georg Szalai in New York contributed to this report.