One way of telling summer is here is consistent sunshine and rising temperatures. In the absence of those, Montreal festival line-up announcements, such as this week’s Just For Laugh’s press event, can suffice. Just over two weeks since Montreal Jazz Festival revealed it would be hosting Bob Dylan, Uzeb, Thievery Corporation among others, the city’s other cultural behemoth divulged its own collection of big names. Now celebrating its 35th year, Just For Laughs is now famed for bringing together the best of Anglophone and Francophone acts. It’s a tradition epitomised in the announcement that comedic heroes Jerry Seinfeld and Gad Elmaleh would join forces for the festival’s biggest event.
At a morning press conference at Monument-National, it was announced that the two comedic titans would share the stage of the Bell Centre on Wednesday, July 26 as co-headliners to commemorate the festival’s notable anniversary this year. Both are Just For Laughs veterans. Jerry Seinfeld first performed at the festival in 1989, just as his iconic sitcom was beginning to air. Elmaleh is better known for performing in French, but his first-ever show in English was one of the highlights of last year’s line-up. Other major events include prolific comedy writer and producer Judd Apatow. The man behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Trainwreck will return to his stand-up roots for two shoes on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29 at 7pm and 9pm at 5ieme Salle at Place des Arts. Other Anglophone acts set to appear this year include San Francisco’s Ali Wong, Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian John Mulaney, NBC’s Chris D’Elia and Netflix star Tom Segura.
But the festival won’t just be focused on comedians at the top of their game. Attention will turn to funny business for four days, with the Just For Laughs ComedyPRO conference. The event is set to attract leaders and groundbreakers from the world of comedy for industry panels and discussions, and promises to be a key date for aspiring performers and fans alike.
While reaching out to international stars, the festival made its support for local talent clear, also announcing a special gala hosted by hometown hero Sugar Sammy on Friday, July 28 at 9.45pm at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier. Sugar Sammy’s International Videotron Gala promises to feature some of the best comedic acts from across the world.
Speaking at the conference, the Montreal native remembered taking the bus his first headlining gig at Just For Laughs in 2004, when he inadvertently accompanied his own fans to his show. “I remember all these people jumped on the bus at one of the stops and said: ‘Hey, Sugar Sammy!’” he recalled.
“I said: ‘Hey, where are you guys going?’. They said: ‘We’re going to watch you!’”
“So I rode the bus with my fans to the show, and I thought it was such a funny moment,” he continued.
Despite his fond memories of performing in the city, the comic didn’t keep any humorous barbs about Montreal’s ongoing road maintenance under wraps.
“I dreamed about hosting my own Just For Laughs gala and I was going to take a nice car to go announce it at the press conference,” he said.
“I’m here now, but I took the metro because of construction,” he added.
“So, thanks to Just For Laughs for making my dreams come true and thanks to the City of Montreal for crushing them a little bit.”
Presale tickets for Just For Laughs are available now, while general sales begin on Friday, May 5 at 10am. Tickets and further programme details are available on www.hahaha.com. JFLMTL Passes are also available, starting at $99.99 for a two-show pass.