Just for Laughs boots audience

Festival surges to $10.3 million

Box office at the Montreal Just for Laughs comedy festival surged from C$9 million ($8.4 million) last year to $10.3 million this year, with total attendance of more than 2 million people.

Attendance figure includes both ticketed indoor shows and free al fresco gigs. Event sold 240,000 tickets this year.

Just for Laughs wrapped Monday night with a final French-language gala paying tribute to Quebecois comedy icon Yvon Deschamps. Over the past month, there were 445 ticket shows in 25 venues in downtown Montreal, with artists from 19 countries performing.

In the midst of the Montreal fest, the event also launched a spinoff festival in Toronto, which ran Thursday through Saturday and proved a solid success.

Just for Laughs chief operating officer Bruce Hills told Daily Variety that the fest is seeing its TV profile grow significantly, and he expects the tube presence to increase further this coming year thanks to a series of 25th anniversary TV specials.

“Just for Laughs” made its bow on ABC two weeks ago and is one of the web’s top-rated summer shows, with the network ordering an additional 13 half-hours following the airing of the first episode July 16.

In addition, Just for Laughs has set up a joint venture with Montreal production company Muse Entertainment to develop comedy series for the international marketplace. Just for Laughs has also picked up the rights for the U.K., Canada and France to develop a version of the NBC show “Last Comic Standing.”

Artists performing in Montreal included a reunited Kids in the Hall, Russell Peters, Billy Connolly, Danny Bhoy and Eddie Izzard.

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