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2024 Just for Laughs comedy festival cancelled, company seeks creditor protection

The Montreal company that operates the Just for Laughs comedy festival has cancelled the 2024 edition of the event after filing a notice of intention to make a proposal to creditors — a formal process under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. 

Seventy-five people were laid off Tuesday morning, according to a festival spokesperson, who called the company’s financial situation “unsustainable.” 

The company cited lost revenues during two years of the global pandemic and challenges facing the media industry, particularly reduced budgets at networks and streaming platforms, as reasons for restructuring. 

In a news release sent Tuesday, Groupe Juste pour rire inc. (JPR), said it plans to “maintain JPR’s operations, albeit in a scaled-down format” as organizers restructure the event.

On Tuesday, Julien Provencher-Proulx of JPR said Toronto’s Just for Laughs festival was expected to take place in September. But by Wednesday, a news release announced that “the company would like to clarify that the 2024 edition of the Just for Laughs Toronto festival will not take place.”

“Once the restructuring of the organization is completed, JPR hopes that the festival will take place in 2025,” the statement added.

As for Montreal, the statement from JPR says “once the restructuring is completed, we hope that the festival will take place in 2025.” 

Some of the Montreal shows cancelled so far include: 

  • Messmer.
  • Neev.
  • Mélanie Couture.
  • Waitress.

Ticket holders can get refunds either through the venue where they purchased the tickets, or through their credit card company if the tickets were purchased directly through Just for Laughs or on a ticket sales platform.

WATCH | Montreal comedians talk about importance of JFL: 

Montreal comedians say cancelled 2024 Just for Laughs festival leaves big void

The Montreal company that runs the event has called off this year’s edition because of financial difficulties. It’s hoping a scaled-back version of the festival will take place in 2025.

Sid Khullar, owner and president of the MTL Comedy Club, said the cancellation is “devastating” for Montreal’s comedy community. 

He said holding shows after the JFL festival and showcases brought a 10 to 20 per cent boost in business to his club. 

“It was a big help for us, but it was a big help for everybody in Montreal as well,” he said. “Without JFL in the mix, it might be a bit harder, but we’ll give it a try.” 

Local, up-and-coming comedians trying to make a name for themselves will bear the brunt of the festival’s absence, says Montreal stand-up comic and JFL veteran Mike Paterson.

“There’s less people getting chances,” he said. “It really sucks for people who have to rely on this stuff.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said she will be asking workers at the city of Montreal to contact JFL and assess its plans for a “flagship event” of Montreal’s cultural scene.  

“We will miss the Just For Laughs Festival this summer,” Plante said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Comedy is an integral part of our culture and we will continue to support it.”

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