Comedy festival enlists Maker Studios to help build brand in U.S.

Just for Laughs is partnering with Maker Studios to launch a YouTube channel later today featuring never-before-seen stand-up performances from comedians including Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart and Tracy Morgan.

Because JFL’s Montreal Just for Laughs Festival has long been a showcase where up-and-comers get their big break in front of an industry audience, much of the footage is of the comedians is at relatively early stages in their careers going as far back as 1987. Other comedians from JFL’s vaults on the channel include Bil Burr, Mitch Hedberg and Bill Hicks.

“So much of this hasn’t been seen in the No. 1 market in the world,” said Bruce Hills, COO of Just for Laughs, who expects the additional exposure to also boost attendance at its annual festival event in July.

With this new channel, JFL is hoping to establish a brand that is much better known on TV in English-speaking countries overseas like its native Canada than it is in the U.S., where its high profile is limited to the entertainment business and comedians. JFL’s last TV exposure to viewer stateside was JFL-packaged stand-up specials that ran on premium cable channels well over a decade ago. Last year, JFL launched a radio comedy program on SiriusXM.

Over 500 hours of JFL content will be released thrice weekly. In time, the channel will accommodate original material drawn from current JFL-hosted festivals.

JFL turned to Maker because of its expertise in seeding YouTube with short-form content. The companies already partner on a YouTube channel based on JFL’s “Gags” franchise, which is well known outside the U.S.

Dar Nothaft, VP of audience strategy at Maker Studios, cited the JFL deal as part of an evolution for the Disney-owned property as its branches out beyond its core ranks of YouTubers to also include business partners including “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Penny Arcade, and Jukin.

“This is a deal that exemplifies the work that Maker is doing now and is very different than where we were 2-3  years ago,” he said.

The JFL-Maker deal was brokered by UTA.

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