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The Just for Laughs comedy festival, run by a consortium led by ICM and Howie Mandel, has planned its first-ever stand-up comedy shows in New York City and Los Angeles for its hybrid 39th edition in late July.
Due to border restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo and others are set to perform or receive awards at JFL stateside, rather than make the trek to Montreal for the annual industry showcase of Hollywood comedic talent.
As the traditional talent-spotting event for Hollywood returns from July 15-31, stand-up performances featuring American and international comedians will take in New York City and Los Angeles. The performances will also be made available to stream online and for free to audiences watching from their own homes. Taping live shows to stream online is a major concession for JFL as stand-up comedy traditionally depends on the energy of a live audience to drum up laughter.
The JFL show, hosted by Sabrina Jalees, will take place live in Los Angeles and will star Maz Jobrani, Gina Yashere, Alonzo Bodden, Jeremy Hotz, Liza Treyger, and Rachel Feinstein. The live New York City show hosted by Dulcé Sloan will feature JFL alums like Todd Barry, Michael Kosta, Marina Franklin and others.
The Nasty Show, a JFL perennial staged in Montreal, will instead be shot live in New York City, with Big Jay Oakerson as emcee and Donnell Rawlings, Rosebud Baker, Robert Kelly, Yamaneika Saunders and Paris Sashay performing in front of a live audience. Another JFL stalwart, The Alternative Show, will once again be hosted by Andy Kindler, but will be shot before a live audience in Los Angeles, with Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, Laurie Kilmartin to headline the eventual streaming show.
The New Faces showcase of undiscovered and unsigned talent will take place online and live with shows in Montreal and Los Angeles, and with industry execs and scouts in the audience. 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 has worked out which of its stand-up performances, keynote and award show speeches can be live or online and held in comedy clubs, halls or arenas in Montreal, New York City and Los Angeles. “We’re so proud of this year’s award show as we’re starting to come out of what was a really hard time for our comedy community”, JFL president Bruce Hills said in a statement as the July 28 kudosfest audience will have audiences able to join online for the first time.
The first wave of JFL award winners will see Dave Chappelle named comedy person of the year, and Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo earn the comedy writers of the year trophy for their work on Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Warner Bros. Television’s Ted Lasso is named comedy series of the year, with co-creator Bill Lawrence and co-creator/star Jason Sudeikis accepting the trophy virtually, while Bowen Yang is named breakout comedy star.
Bowing to the inevitable, 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, will be unable to attend due to pandemic travel restrictions.
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