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Just For Laughs Cancels 2024 Festival and Lays Off Majority of Employees

Montreal's major comedy festival, Just for Laughs, has filed for creditor protection to avoid bankruptcy. The hugely influential festival would have had its 42nd edition this summer.

Montreal's Just for Laughs, a major institution in Canadian entertainment, is in danger of shutting down. The festival's parent company, Groupe Juste pour rire inc. (JPR), announced Tuesday the cancellation of the festival's 2024 edition. JPR has filed a Notice of intention to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which allows the festival to seek investors or purchasers with the goal of avoiding bankruptcy. The company also reportedly laid off around 75 employees, or 70% of its staff.

The festival, founded in 1983, has grown into a major cultural force in Canada, expanding into Toronto and Vancouver as well as presenting comedy and performance events year-round. JFL brings major international acts like Kevin Hart and John Mulaney to Canadian stages, while its showcases have become coveted opportunities for rising comedians. The festival has also faced its share ofinternal problems — founder Gilbert Rozon resigned in 2017 following sexual assault allegations that spanned several decades.


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JPR says that the festival's current financial problems come from the loss of revenue during two years of lockdown, while overhead costs remained, as well as other factors like inflation and media consolidation, which pose challenges to the live performance industry. "The decision to initiate restructuring proceedings was reached after thorough consideration of all options available to the company," a news release states, "taking into account its very difficult financial situation given the significant changes in our business landscape in recent years."

Other Canadian festivals like the Vancouver Folk Festival have faced similar existential threats coming out of lockdown, while some like FVDED in the Park have re-worked their programming.

JPR says the festival will spend time re-structuring, with hopes of returning in 2025. Bell and Osheaga promoter Evenko own 51% of JPR, while American agency CAA owns the other 49%, according to Canadian Press. In addition to the Montreal festival, upcoming JFL events advertised on the festival's website include Moontower — JFL's partner festival in Austin, Texas — as well as two events in London, England.

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As of publication, tickets for the 2024 Montreal festival are still available on the JFL website.

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