Montreal goes to Chicago

Windy City gets its own comedy festival

Montreal’s prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival is spreading its wings – with a new festival in Chicago.

The 25-year-old event, a long-time favourite of talent-spotting American TV executives, has teamed up with the TBS network for the new festival in summer 2009.

It comes after the rival HBO cable network cancelled its comedy arts festival in Aspen, Colorado, in favour of a less industry-orientated event in Los Angeles.

Ellen DeGeneres will headline the five-day event, but the rest of the line-up – including stand-up, improv and sketch shows, plus Latino and black showcases, will not be announced until the autumn.

Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, sad: ‘We couldn’t be happier that the enormously talented and always funny Ellen DeGeneres is on board. Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival is a perfect opportunity for us to showcase some of the best talents in the comedy industry.’

Just For Laughs president Gilbert Rozon added: ‘Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Just For Laughs started out as a small local comedy showcase and has grown and evolved to become one of the biggest producers of comedy in the world. We are thrilled to be involved in this endeavour with TBS, and to have Chicago as our flagship comedy event in the US.’

Chicago has an illustrious comedy heritage, especially with improv and sketch acts, with comedians such as John Belushi, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, and Steve Carell starting their careers there.

Published: 20 Feb 2008

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