Just for Laughs

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Just for Laughs
Juste pour rire
"Victor", the Just for Laughs trademark mascot
GenreComedy festival
Location(s)Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1983–2023
FoundedJuly 14, 1983; 40 years ago (1983-07-14)

Just for Laughs (French: Juste pour rire) is a comedy festival, currently in limbo, that was held each July in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1983, it was the largest international comedy festival in the world.[1] In addition to the festivals themselves, Just for Laughs also develops, produces, and distributes other forms of comedy entertainment, such as television programming.[2]

As of 2024, the festival has been cancelled and its future in Montreal uncertain.[3]


Saint-Denis Theatre, the theatre where the festival used to film until 2010
Inside Saint-Denis Theatre, 2005 Just for Laughs festival
Improv All Stars stage,
Just For Laughs festival 2003
Principal shooting set, as of 2014
Place des Arts, this is where the festival currently films

Just for Laughs was formed in 1983 as a two-day French-language event. In 1985, Andy Nulman joined the festival's staff and introduced English-language events as well; under Nulman's stewardship, the festival increased to a full month, with French-speaking performers during the first half, and English speakers in the second half. International and non-verbal acts (acrobats, pantomimes, etc.) are scattered throughout the program.

In 1999, Nulman left the festival's full-time employ; however, he directed its major Gala Shows at the Saint-Denis Theatre every July, and remained on the board of directors of the festival's parent company. After an 11-year absence, Nulman returned to Just for Laughs in July 2010 as president of Festivals and Television.[4]

Each day, performers, "New Vaudevillians" and other acts both vocal and visual perform throughout the city, particularly in the "Latin Quarter"—an area known for its theatres, cafés and boutique shopping. In the evenings, the nightclubs and live venue theatres offer special programs supporting the performers.

Although Just For Laughs attracts spectators from around the world, many of those in the audience are talent scouts, booking agents, producers, and managers from the entertainment industry. Performing at the festival is one of the biggest opportunities for undiscovered talent to showcase their act in front of industry professionals.

The Just For Laughs festival also has the Comedia comedy film festival component.[5] Awards are given for feature and short films. In 2005, Comedia screened 125 short films from around the world as well as several feature-length films.

In February 1994, the festival sponsored a splinter project in Hollywood, Florida. That coastal area is a favourite winter destination for Quebecers who head south to vacation in the warmer weather. The event, Juste Pour Rire—En Vacances (Just For Laughs—On Vacation), was held in the Young Circle Park, an outdoor venue with an urban park setting.[6]

In July 2007, Just For Laughs celebrated its 25th edition, launching a festival in Toronto, Ontario.[7]

In 2009, a U.S. edition of the festival was held in Chicago, sponsored by U.S. cable network TBS.[8][9]

On November 24, 2010, it was announced that they have to move the Just for Laughs galas to Place des Arts and that the 2011 festival in the Saint-Denis Theatre would be recycled due to budget cuts. [10]

In July 2016, Just For Laughs London was held at Russell Square.[11]

On April 1, 2019, Just For Laughs name went fully stylized to Just for laughs. On April 3, 2020, it was announced that the 2020 edition of Just For Laughs would be postponed until the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was scheduled to run from September 29 to October 11, 2020, however, on July 21, 2020, organizers reversed their decision and cancelled the event. To fill the gap, they choose for a series of virtual performances that will run online (via the Internet only), for two days, on October 9 and 10, 2020.[12][13]

Sale to ICM Partners, Bell and the Molson family[edit]

On October 18, 2017, festival president and founder Gilbert Rozon resigned from his position following allegations of sexual misconduct.[14] Rozon later announced that he would sell the festival. As per a partnership with the conglomerate, Quebecor was given right of first refusal to counter competing offers. The company, however, declined. On March 21, 2018, it was announced that the entire company would be acquired by a partnership between U.S.-based talent agency ICM Partners and Ontario comedian Howie Mandel. In their announcement of the purchase, it was stated that Just for Laughs would remain based in Montreal (with Mandel considering the event to be a key component of local culture), and that there would be no changes in its management or operations. It was also stated that the partnership was seeking other local partners. Quebecor subsequently announced that it would become a "founding partner" of Le Grand Montréal Comédie Fest—a competing event (which lasted 2 years) that has been established by a group of Quebecois comedians as a competitor in the wake of the Rozon scandal.[15][16]

In May 2018, La Presse reported that the partnership planned to sell a 51% stake in Just for Laughs to Bell Canada and Evenko (an event management company owned by the Montreal Canadiens' ownership group Groupe CH, in turn owned by the Molson family), so that the event would remain majority-owned by Canadian interests and remain eligible for government tax credits.[17] On June 7, 2018, Just For Laughs confirmed that Bell Media and Groupe CH had acquired stakes in the festival.[18]

In July 2022, Just for Laughs announced a line-up of 62 comedians that will be featured in the Montreal festival that will run from July 13 to 31st. This festival also marks the 40th anniversary of Just for Laughs.[19]

2024 cancellation and uncertain future[edit]

On March 5, 2024, it was announced the 2024 edition of the Just for Laughs festival had been canceled as Groupe Juste pour rire tries to avoid bankruptcy.[20] The organizers blamed lost revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming services, and reduced budgets at networks as the main causes for its collapse, casting uncertainty about the future of the festival. It has been speculated Just for Laughs may be moved to Toronto, creating a negative impact on Montreal's tourism industry, local businesses and its reputation as a host city for festivals.[21] [22]

TV shows and other[edit]

In addition to the festivals themselves, Just for Laughs also develops, produces, and distributes other forms of comedy entertainment, from stand-up specials and variety shows to sitcoms and reality television.[2]

For instance, tapings from festival performances have been featured in Just for Laughs-branded television programs and specials, which have aired on channels such as CBC Television,[23] Radio-Canada, The Comedy Network, and TVA. This includes the original Just for Laughs series; Just for Laughs: Galas, a series of four galas;[23] and a newer series that premiered in 2012, Just for Laughs: All Access.

Just for Laughs' television productions are also broadcast outside of Canada on over 150 platforms. American audiences can watch JFL programming via HBO, FOX, ABC, Comedy Central, Showtime, Hulu, and more. A UK series, also entitled Just for Laughs, aired on Channel 4 from 1987 to 1996. Just for Laughs Australia screens on the Ten Network in Australia and features highlights from the festival with an emphasis on Australian comedy performers.[2]

The festival has also lent its name to a hidden camera comedy series, Just for Laughs Gags, which has also been aired by various Canadian channels, and has been sold internationally. Adapted from Gags is Just Kidding, a show with a similar premise but with kids pulling pranks.[2]

Just for Laughs also produces Humour Resources, a series starring Jon Dore as a retired comedian-turned-human resources manager for comedy.[24]

In 2018, Radio-Canada and The Comedy Network (now called CTV Comedy Channel) briefly dropped all Just for Laughs programming, apparently caused by Gilbert Rozon's allegations of sexual misconduct. TVA continued to air Just for Laughs Gags, but renamed Les Gags. CBC Television still air Just for Laughs Gags with no changes. Following the festival's subsequent ownership changes, CTV Comedy and other Bell Media channels have resumed airing festival programming.[citation needed]

Just for Laughs also owns a record label titled JFL Originals, which publishes multi-comedian albums recorded in different cities across North America.[25]


Victor is the mascot and logo for the comedy festival Just for Laughs. It was designed by Vittorio Fiorucci of the Canadian Design Resource company.

When the artist first created the mascot, the character’s horns were coloured blue. However, when Vittorio’s blue marker had run out of shades of blue, the mascot’s horns became red.

His catchphrase, as heard at the end of most Just for Laughs television broadcasts ever since the inception, is "Mommy, it’s over!"

The image was inspired by a monster that preys on Montreal.[26] The logo can be seen across the world on posters, T-shirts, event site markers, costumes, and inflatables.

In 2005, the character was redesigned by animator Alan Best at the behest of advertising agency Cossette as part of a comprehensive graphic overhaul of the Just For Laughs brand. In 2007, "Rose" was created, a character to be the wife of Victor.[20]

In 2023, Victor was absent from all visual material related to the festival.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Georgia Brown (March 16, 2007). "Five top comedy festivals around the world". The Guardian. London. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "Distribution | Just For Laughs". www.hahaha.com. Retrieved 2023-04-01.
  3. ^ "Sacre Bleu! Just For Laughs Files For Bankruptcy. Now What For Big Comedy? | Decider". Retrieved 2024-03-06.
  4. ^ "Andy Nulman » Speaker Profile » National Speakers Bureau". Nsb.com. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  5. ^ Kelly, Brendan (2004-06-30). "'Kumar,' 'Jeremy' set for Comedia". Variety. Retrieved 2023-03-31.
  6. ^ "COMEDY FESTIVAL FOLLOWS CANADIANS TO HOLLYWOOD". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  7. ^ "Mandel, Ferguson, Lopez top Toronto Laughs fest". Reuters. 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2023-03-14.
  8. ^ Time Warner Inc. "TBS PRESENTS A VERY FUNNY FESTIVAL: JUST FOR LAUGHS -- All-Star Comedy Lineup Unveiled for June's Premiere Event in Chicago". Time Warner. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  9. ^ "TBS Just for Laughs: 5th Annual Funny Festival Returns to Chicago". gapersblock.com. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  10. ^ Brownstein, Bill (November 24, 2010). "Just for Laughs / Juste pour rire galas move to Place des arts". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  11. ^ Orlova-Alvarez, Tamara (3 July 2016). "Review: Just For Laughs Festival London". Ikon London Magazine. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  12. ^ Luft, Amy (2020-04-03). "Just for Laughs postpones, JazzFest, FrancoFolies, Velo Quebec cancel summer 2020 festivals". CTV News Montreal. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
  13. ^ Thomas, Katelyn (July 21, 2020). "Just for Laughs and Juste pour rire festivals to be held online in the fall". Montreal.
  14. ^ "Just For Laughs president steps down after misconduct allegations surface on social media". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  15. ^ "Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel and American company". CBC News. 21 March 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  16. ^ "'Montreal is the mecca': Howie Mandel joins JFL bid, will keep HQ here". Montreal Gazette. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  17. ^ "Majority stake in Just for Laughs to be bought by Bell/Evenko: sources". Montreal Gazette. 2018-05-29. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  18. ^ "Bell Media, Groupe CH among group that has acquired Just For Laughs". Montreal Gazette. 2018-06-08. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  19. ^ "Just For Laughs Sets Lineup For Annual New Faces Of Comedy Showcases". Deadline. 2022-07-25. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  20. ^ a b "Le Grand Charivarir de Juste pour rire: le retour de Rose (entrevue) - Showbizz québécois". Showbizz.net. 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  21. ^ "2024 Just for Laughs comedy festival cancelled, company seeks creditor protection". Retrieved 2024-03-05.
  22. ^ https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/just-for-laughs-files-for-creditor-protection-says-2024-festival-will-not-take-place-1.6795027
  23. ^ a b "Just for Laughs." CBC Media Centre. cbc.ca.
  24. ^ "Humour Resources | Distribution | Just For Laughs". www.hahaha.com. Retrieved 2023-04-01.
  25. ^ "JFL Originals | Just For Laughs". www.hahaha.com. Retrieved 2023-04-01.
  26. ^ Todd Falkowsky (2009-08-10). "The CANADIAN DESIGN RESOURCE » "Victor" Just For Laughs Logo/Mascot". Canadiandesignresource.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-30.

External links[edit]