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Comedy Festival Montreal Just For Laughs (AKA Festival Juste Pour Rire)

Profile of the Just For Laughs Festival: Montreal's Best Comedy Fest


comedy festival just for laughs 2014 dave chappelle prince nba basketball game

Dave Chappelle watching a basketball game with Prince.

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images
A comedy festival Montreal producer Gilbert Rozon founded in 1983, Just for Laughs was originally Juste pour rire, a French only comedy event and far cry from Rozon's first stint in the working world as a gravedigger. By 1985, Rozon enlisted the help of Andy Nulman, who then added English acts to the roster, and the first bilingual Juste pour rire/Just For Laughs was born, featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and breakout star of the fest, André-Philippe Gagnon. Over two decades later, the success of Just For Laughs spawned not only a permanent museum, but also sister festivals in Toronto, Chicago and Nantes in France.

Get the scoop on what's happening at the 2014 Just For Laughs Festival.

Career Breakthroughs
A comedy festival Montreal residents and tourists adore, attracting almost two million spectators every year, the Just For Laughs fest also caters to industry needs. Crawling with talent scouts, booking agents, managers and producers looking for the next big thing, many of today's household names -- Denis Leary, Dave Chappelle, even Jon Stewart -- got their big break at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival or at least got a nice boost, seeing their careers take off shortly thereafter. In some cases, acts that were tried out in Montreal ended up attracting international acclaim. Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean for example, was first tested on Montreal crowds back in 1989. The public raved and the BBC was tuning in. The rest is television history.

Stand-up Comedy: A Just For Laughs Specialty
The Montreal Just for Laughs Festival's main feature is stand-up comedy and the fest attracts present and future A-listers, up-and-coming rookies and literally the best comedy in the world. Past guests include:

Free Street Arts
For many years, Just for Laughs closed off the Latin Quarter to cars (St. Denis, from Ste. Catherine to Sherbrooke) to make way for performance artists, giant puppet thingies and creepy types gently entertaining/harassing the roving public, who are often on the lookout for impromptu street antics anyway. From fire-breathing comedy to live statues to drumming harlequins circling random strangers into submission, Just For Laughs street arts are so much fun, great for all ages and it's free. Since 2010, all street arts acts moved locations, to the Quartier des Spectacles' Place des Festivals.

Montreal Just For Laughs Film Festival
Organizers added a film portion to Just For Laughs in 1997. Most of the worldwide premieres, short films and other features are shown at the gorgeous Imperial Theatre. Past screenings include Pineapple Express, The Deal and Just Buried.

Just For Laughs Montreal: Other Events
The comedy fest isn't just about stand-up. Or film. Or even comedy. Unique performances like Slava’s Snowshow, Arturo Brachetti, and the KGB Clowns were booked at Just For Laughs. The Montreal comedy festival also covers dance acts, notably Stomp when it was in its infancy and the critically acclaimed Brazilian act Balé de Rua.

Find out who's performing at the 2013 Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

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