Tag Archives: Just-for-Laughs

Posted in Radio

Just For Laughs Radio launches on SiriusXM

Comedian DeAnne Smith is the voice of Just For Laughs Radio

Comedian DeAnne Smith is the voice of Just For Laughs Radio

Just For Laughs is expanding its media empire yet again. At noon on Thursday, it launches Just For Laughs Radio, a 24/7 channel on SiriusXM, complemented by a one-hour daily highlights show on the satellite service’s Raw Dog comedy channel.

For details, you can read this story, which appears in Thursday’s Gazette. Their press release is here.

Montreal comedian DeAnne Smith is the voice of the channel, which will be mainly recorded shows presented “jukebox” style, except during the festivals when it will also include some live programming. Since this channel is launching in the middle of JFL 42 in Toronto, that means we’ll see some of that right off the bat, with Raw Dog host Mark Seman doing some shows from Toronto, interviewing the comedians appearing there. The first week will also feature some content from the 2013 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, namely the Andy Kindler State of the Industry address and the Colin Quinn keynote speech from the ComedyPro conference.

During festivals, like this one, JFL Radio will be continuously simulcast on Raw Dog.

JFL COO Bruce Hills tells me that the plan is to start slow and build up. They’ve never really done anything like this before.

To give you an idea what the channel is like, here’s the schedule for the simulcast that will air on both channels for the remainder of the Toronto festival.

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Posted in Fun, Montreal

MP3 experiment on Wednesday

Depending on how many people show up, it could be pretty awesome: A Montreal edition of Improv Everywhere’s MP3 Experiment is set for Wednesday at 5:17pm.

Instructions are here and there’s a Facebook page. No RSVP required, just show up wearing red, yellow, blue or green and carrying an uninflated red or green balloon to a retail store on Ste. Catherine St. between St. Alexandre and St. Laurent.

Improv Everywhere’s MP3 experiments are explained here, but in short they involve a large group of people downloading an MP3 audio file, then playing it on headphones at exactly the same time. To the outside world, it just looks like a bunch of people wearing headphones, but who suddenly all start doing the same random things together.

Montreal had a similar thing in 2009 that I participated in, and although there were some glitches it was a lot of fun for those involved.

The weather forecast is for light showers with a high of 17 degrees.

UPDATE: Just For Laughs has an announcement set for 5:30pm. Since JFL is organizing the MP3 experiment as well, I’m guessing the timing is related.

UPDATE (May 11): The event went well, with just about every radio and TV station sending people (for both the JFL lineup announcement and the MP3 experiment). It beat the rain by about an hour.

Just For Laughs has compiled a short video, which you can see above. Here are some more, combining video with audio from the MP3 experiment track, which was 42 minutes total. (via Dominic Arpin)

Posted in Fun, Montreal

My first Just for Laughs gala

Just for Laughs stage at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

It’s one of those things I wanted to do for so long. I’ve lived in this city my entire life, watched countless performances by stand-up comics (in both languages) on the Just for Laughs stage at Théâtre Saint-Denis, and wanted to go myself. But for various reasons (mainly a lack of availability combined with a fear of the price tag), I never saw one of its famous galas in person. I’ve been to outdoor events (much of which isn’t exactly funny, the giant screen showing Gags reruns notwithstanding), but never bought a ticket to watch an indoor show.

Last Saturday, I finally did. It was the only night I was really free to see anything. I went down to Place des Arts and decided I would plan my night based on what cheap last-minute tickets were available. I was actually a bit surprised when I found out that a 7pm show on a Saturday featuring Craig Ferguson still had seats available (singles, for the most part, mind you) that they were willing to give me for a significant last-minute discount. I picked it up, paying less than $40 in cash.

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Posted in Media, Opinion

Anglo comedians don’t want to talk to La Presse

La Presse’s Hugo Dumas is displeased that the big anglo headliners at the Just for Laughs festival didn’t give as many interviews to francophone papers as they did to The Gazette. While the Gazette got some of them for phone interviews (people like Kathy Griffin, Craig Ferguson, Joan Rivers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Bill Hader), La Presse had to settle for an email back-and-forth with Jimmy Fallon. (The email part was a requirement from NBC, who also wouldn’t allow Fallon to discuss his upcoming gig replacing Conan O’Brien on Late Night — a request that led The Gazette to turn down the interview)

Setting aside the Fallon silliness (and the fact that La Presse didn’t mention that arbitrary content censorship in their article about him), I’m not sure what to think about the situation. On one hand, people shouldn’t be playing favourites with the media, whether it’s the prime minister or a trashy comedian. On the other hand, it seems silly that the franco paper is all bent out of shape because they couldn’t get a five-minute phoner for a fluff piece with a comedian.

Somehow, I think calling for a boycott of celebrity interviews is going to work. And that’s why their handlers can make these ridiculous demands on the media.

Posted in Fun, Montreal, Opinion, Photos

Blastback Babyzap: Electrifying

I’ve always been a big fan of comedy, and I’ve lived in Montreal my entire life, so you’d think Just for Laughs and I would be a perfect fit (it’s only a year younger than me). But I’ve never been to a gala, and before last night had never been to any live production related to the festival.

The main reason behind that is money. Why should I pay $40 for a nosebleed seat for a show I’ll get highlights from a few months later on TV?

The other reason is that I’m not easily impressed by comedy. Jokes about relationships and making fun of people’s acccents got old about three decades ago.

But last night, both those problems were alleviated as I stopped by to see the Uncalled For’s Blastback Babyzap production at Mainline Theatre. I’ve seen the group perform improv shows, so I had an idea that there would be some funny stuff going on. And at only $12, it didn’t hurt the wallet to attend.

I must say, I was very impressed.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the show, some of the stuff below may ruin the surprise. But it’s still worth watching.

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Posted in Fun, Montreal, Photos, Public transit

The metro car ice cream parlor, and other Just for Laughs outdoor fun

The other day (you know, back when it wasn’t raining), I wandered on to the Just for Laughs outdoor fun zone. For those of you who have never been here, it’s not so much funny ha-ha (the comics are saved for shows people pay for), it’s more about having fun with games, clowns, mimes and other amusing things.

The most amusing thing for me was this: a metro car, pulled out of the garage and parked on the street to be turned into an ice cream parlor.

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Posted in Blogosphere, Media, Montreal

YASTGBs: JFL, film festivals

Two more blogs from the Gazette were launched today with premiere posts:

Just for Laughs Festival is the cleverly-named blog covering … wait for it … the Just for Laughs Festival, which runs July 10-20.

The Ciné Files similarly follows all those film festivals that happen here during the summer. Fantasia, FFM, FNC, Joe’s Super Awesome Film Fest, etc.

They’re both self-explanatory, no?

Posted in Humour, Montreal, TV

Just for (American) Laughs (UPDATED)

ABC premiered the American version of Just for Laughs Gags tonight (there it’s just called Just for Laughs).

I’d heard all sort of rumours about this show. It was going to be re-shot with Americans. It was going to have Bob Saget-like voice-over stupidity.

Fortunately, none of these things happened. In fact, other than the ABC logo in the corner of the screen, it’s indistinguishable from the CBC version. The same cheesy music, same familiar locations (Dorchester Square, St. Louis Square, among others), same fake cops. The TV version doesn’t make it explicit that this is filmed in Montreal, which is kinda sad because there’ll probably be quite a lot of people confused at the French signs, red mailboxes and other things that make us not look like them. The website mentions that it’s a Canadian-made series, though the name of our fair city can’t be found (why is a goldmine of free publicity for our city not being pounced upon?).

If anything, it’s how little effort they put into changing the show that concerns me. They did a short graphic (with the familiar JFL logo) for before and after commercials, and they have this guy Rick Miller (yeah, I’d never heard of him either, but apparently he’s a Montrealer) introduce the show and say goodbye at the end. That’s it. I mean, the CBC show was bare-bones as it is. I’m not sure ABC can get away with just repackaging such a show, even over the summer.

From that and their website, which is about as bare-bones as you can get, I get the feeling ABC doesn’t expect this show to last through fall.

We’ll see. Maybe this can pick up an audience that thinks Punk’d and all its ilk are too aggressive or have too much dialogue or something.

UPDATE: Response from the blogosphere so far is not encouraging. The few media who mentioned it in advance gave it “something called” treatment. Blogger response fit that pretty well. “Disappointed.” “Not impressed.” “Beyond absurd” (from someone convinced it was shot in Mexico or Sao Paulo). “Desperately unfunny.” “Bland.” “The lamest.” And my favourite: “Absolute bullshit crap.” On the other side, as far as I can see, just one offhand “great” and one (albeit enthusiastic) “funny.”

LOST 2 this is not. And it’s hard to disagree. I would have rather seen gala stand-ups on U.S. television than a low-budget hidden camera gag show that, as far as they’re concerned, is a bad copy of all the other ones they’ve seen over the past half-decade.

What’s sad is this might give networks pause about importing other (good) Canadian television programming in the future.

UPDATED AGAIN: Overnight ratings for the show weren’t as bad as I thought they might be. They actually went up between shows, which shows it wasn’t advertised properly and viewers came in and stayed more than they left. Overall, it lost to America’s Got Talent, came in about tied with CBS’s NCIS repeat, and beat FOX’s On The Lot.

Could be I’ve written its obituary too soon.