Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Cancels 2024 Edition And Lays Off Staff After Filing For Bankruptcy; Pandemic And Inflation Blamed

The organizers of Canada’s well-regarded Just for Laughs festival, a major gathering in Montreal where a number of comics have been discovered, have canceled the 2024 edition and filed for bankruptcy.

Several dozen staffers have also been let go as a result of the moves, which were blamed on the one-two punch of Covid and rising inflation. Multiple press reports have estimated that 75 workers, about 70% of the staff, have exited. “We plan to maintain JPR’s operations, albeit in a scaled-down format, throughout the restructuring process,” the presenting organization, Juste pour rire Inc., said in a statement.

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Events in several parts of Canada are held under the Just for Laughs banner. One in Toronto that is operated by different organizers is expected to proceed as scheduled in September.

JPR said filed a notice of intention to make a proposal under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Its board of directors, “after having extensively considered all available alternatives, came to the conclusion that the financial situation of the organization left no other choice than to initiate formal restructuring proceedings,” the organization said.

Through the bankruptcy process, Just for Laughs could seek investors or an acquirer of all or part of the business.

While this summer’s festival in Montreal is a scratch, organizers hope the 2025 edition can be held once the business turbulence subsides.

“The decision to initiate restructuring proceedings was reached after thorough consideration of all options available to the company, taking into account its very difficult financial situation given the significant changes in our business landscape in recent years,” the statement said.

Covid forced the fest to “effectively cease operations for two years,” the statement added, as substantial overhead costs continued. “The pandemic was followed by the inflationary times we continue to experience, meaning our cost structure increased appreciably, exerting unprecedented financial strains on the organization.”

Shifts in the media business also played a part in the bankruptcy filing. “The media industry landscape has radically changed over the past few years,” the JPR statement noted. “Consolidation and reduced budgets at the networks and streaming platforms have made television production more challenging.”

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