Kevin Hart to Scout Comedy Talent for VOD Channel at Just for Laughs Fest (EXCLUSIVE)

Kevin Hart is looking to sign fresh comedy talent at this summer’s Just For Laughs festival in Canada for his video-on-demand channel set to launch next year.

Hart’s Laugh Out Loud video-on-demand channel, slated to launch in the first quarter of 2017, is a joint venture between the comedian-actor-producer and Lionsgate.

The funnyman is teaming with JFL to present a pitch panel inviting creators to pitch their best pilot ideas for short-form comedy series, with a shot at getting a slot in the Laugh Out Loud VOD lineup. Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Network Pitch Panel will take place Thursday, July 28, at the Hyatt Regency Montreal hotel, in a one-hour session kicking off the Just For Laughs ComedyPRO, the four-day comedy conference that runs parallel to the main festival.

“We’re looking for pitches, and if Kevin likes it we’ll make deals on the spot,” said Jeff Clanagan, president of CodeBlack Films and Hart’s longtime business partner.

Just For Laughs staffers will prescreen pitches, selecting a shortlist of up to 10 finalists to present their ideas at the confab. To be considered, comedians, writers, producers and creators must submit a one-page outline to industry@hahaha.com by July 13.

“It’s a huge gathering of English-speaking comedians and a wide range of the industry representing everyone from traditional TV companies to new platforms,” said Just For Laughs CEO Bruce Hills. “It’s a perfect opportunity for Jeff and Kevin to hear from the comics at the festival.”

In addition to hosting the pitch panel, Just For Laughs will produce 52 stand-up specials at the festival, featuring a total of 104 comedians (two per 15-minute episode) filmed over six nights, exclusively for Hart’s Laugh Out Loud VOD channel.

Clanagan said Laugh Out Loud network will initially launch as a free-to-consumer ad-supported VOD service, eventually adding a subscription option for longer-form content. The service will feature original scripted and unscripted series along with shows featuring up-and-coming comedians and social-media stars.

Hart has been a regular at the Just For Laughs Festival since his 2001 stand-up debut at the event. His last appearance was in 2015, when he sold out the Bell Centre as part of his “What Now?” tour, marking the festival’s biggest single indoor event to date.

Hart has appeared in several blockbuster films including “The Wedding Ringer,” “Ride Along” and “Ride Along 2” and “Get Hard.” This summer, he co-stars with Dwayn Johnson in “Central Intelligence” and will be featured in animated film “The Secret Life of Pets,” which bows July 8.

The Just For Laughs Festival, which first launched in 1983, runs July 13 to Aug. 1, 2016, in Montreal. The Just For Laughs ComedyPRO track runs from July 27-30.

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