Fest laughs all the way to the bank

Just for Laughs rakes in nearly $10 million

TORONTO — Montreal’s Just for Laughs raked in C$10 million ($9.98 million) at the box office and boasted its most star-studded guest list in 26 years as the 12-day English and French-language comedy fest ended Sunday.

JFL chief operating officer Bruce Hills announced Monday that Canuck pay TV channels the Movie Network and Movie Central landed the inaugural broadcast of “The Nasty Show,” the fest’s fastest-selling skein, while CTV nabbed Canuck Jeremy Hotz’s one-hour standup special, filmed live at the Imperial Theater on Friday.

Just for Laughs will continue to deliver its one-hour “best of” episodes to pubcaster CBC and produce French-language specials for broadcasters worldwide.

Hill also confirmed the organization is “closing in on prominent U.S. and U.K. deals” for Just for Laughs content, with announcements to follow “within a couple of weeks.”

Just for Laugh’s new two-day confab and film fest were largely responsible for the upswing in attendance of top Hollywood bizzers.

Roughly 400 of 1,000 registered industry reps checked out events including the father-son conversation between Ivan Reitman and “Juno” helmer Jason Reitman and the tribute to Judd Apatow, who nabbed Just for Laugh’s inaugural comedy person of the year nod.

Apatow returned the favor by unspooling his Seth Rogen starrer “Pineapple Express” in advance of its Aug. 8 release and hosting the fest’s hottest ticket, “Apatow for Destruction,” featuring yuks from Russell Brand, Bill Hader and others.

After a 16-year absence from the stage, Apatow hit club shows with his own short routine.

Hills said the confab was created so industry reps would have a more structured meeting place.

“Although JFL is about the comedy fan, we want to help business get done and artists to be seen,” Hills said.

With managers including Jimmy Miller (Will Ferrell, Sacha Baron Cohen), helmers Jason Reitman and Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) and heavyweights such as HBO Entertainment prexy Sue Naegle roaming the clubs, rising comedy stars like Montreal’s Jon Lajoie and Boston’s Bo Burnham — who rocked the Craig Robinson-hosted “AMP’d” musical comedy showcase — might get their big break.

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