Last week, as Just For Laughs President Bruce Hills announced a plethora of additional shows and performers to the line-up for the festival’s 37th edition at a press conference that took place at the L’Astral venue on May 21, he mentioned a last-minute surprise addition: a one-woman show that will be hosted by the wife of a former Prime Minister of Canada, who is also the mother of the current Prime Minister.
Margaret Trudeau will make her Just For Laughs debut with “Certain Woman of an Age” that will have a three-night run at the Gesu on July 25, 26 and 27. The show is actually a candid conversation, in which Trudeau will recount her life before, during and after her time at 24 Sussex Drive, as well as her battle with having a bipolar disorder.
“This show is based on the more than 500 appearances I have done as a public speaker, in which I helped to break the stigma of mental health issues,” said Ms. Trudeau during a brief interview. “The message I want to convey is that it’s OK to reach out for help, because that’s where the healing begins. And humour can play a big part in that healing, and what a better way to advocate that than at a comedy festival.”
Another brand new addition to the line-up is “She the People”, a smash hit touring sketch comedy show that’s being presented by the ladies of Second City Toronto at the Centaur Theatre for eight performances from July 22 to 25, as well as July 26 and 27.
“This show has sketches, songs and even some improv that contains relatable material, but from a women’s perspective. However, you don’t have to be a woman to come and see this show. It’s for everyone,” said Carly Heffernan, who developed the concept of “She the People” at Second City in Chicago two years ago, and serves as its co-writer and director. “And the women who make up the show’s cast are to me like the Spice Girls of comedy. Women are making great strides in the comedy world today, but there is still a need to make a space for us there. Take for instance heckling; every comic goes through it. But the difference is with female comics, that heckling can take the form of a type of discrimination in which we become objectified because of our bodies, and that’s a type of micro-aggression.”
Charles Decarie, Groupe Juste pour rire’s new President and CEO, kicked off the press conference by remarking how the festival has become a global leader in the comedy world, and will continue its humour-centric mission. “We will continue to reach excellence at what we do best, which is to gather people from around the world and make them laugh,” he said.
Other festival line-up additions that were announced by Mr. Hills at the press conference include: comedian Wanda Sykes hosting her own gala at Place des Arts on July 26; a stand-up show hosted by Blake Griffin at the L’Olympia called “comedy. By Blake” on July 25; SNL alumnus Fred Armisen will make his first appearance at JFL with “Comedy For Musicians but Everyone is Welcome” on July 27 at the L’Olympia; comedian Nick Kroll, who starred in his own Comedy Central sketch show “The Kroll Show” and will be heard on the upcoming animated feature “Secret Life of Pets 2” will do a solo stand-up show for one night only – July 25 – also at the L’Olympia; and Stephen Glover (aka the popular stand-up comedian and stunt performer “Steve-O”) will bring his multimedia comedy show that’s part of his Bucket List Tour to the L’Olympia on July 24.
Jeff Ross – the Roastmaster General himself – will get the fire started and keep the embers burning with “The Roastmaster’s Invitational”, a four-night elimination-style extravaganza of anything goes comedy roasting that will invade Club Soda from July 24 to 27; Ronny Chieng, who was named as one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics to Watch back in 2016 and appeared in the smash box office hit comedy “Crazy Rich Asians”, is bringing his “Tone Issues” show for three nights – July 23 to 25 — at the Gesu; Just For Laughs veteran and former “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” cast member Shaun Majumder returns to the festival with a performance from his new “Hate” comedy tour on July 25 at the Gesu; Jon Dore, another festival favorite, returns to host “The Stand-Up Show” from July 25 to 27 at L’Astral, which will be taped for later broadcast on the Comedy Network; and the Ethnic Show has just added Robby Hoffman and Anthony DeVito to their line-up, plus Big Jay Oakerson, Andrew Schulz, Jessimae Peluso and Bonnie McFarlane will be spewing their best blue material as part of this year’s Nasty Show line-up.
Just For Laughs sticks to their comedy roots by offering a number of shows during this year’s festival to promote Canada’s finest and upcoming comedy talent with such shows as “Comedy Night in Canada” (July 24 at Club Soda), “Live from L’Astral”, a series of four new specials that will be taped for Crave TV that will be headlined by a number of rising Canadian comics including Aisha Brown and Graham Key (July 22 and 23 at L’Astral); and the long-running and vitally important New Faces series will have a Canadian slant to it as “New Faces: Canada” marks its debut on July 26 at the Salle Ludger-Duvernay at the historic Monument National Theatre on St. Laurent Boulevard.
There will be no shortage of comedy podcasts to hit the Just For Laughs stage this summer, as live tapings will take place featuring a wide variety of podcasts, including “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes”, “Gettin’ Better with Ron Funches”, “The Comedian’s Comedian with Stuart Goldsmith”, “Glowing Up with Esther and Caroline” and “How Did This Get Made?”, the award-wining podcast in which Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael, along with some of their comedian friends, will discuss the best in very bad movies at a live taping at the L’Olympia on July 27.
The unveiling of the OFF-JFL show line-up and list of performers is scheduled for June 11; and further Just For Laughs programming announcements will take place in the coming weeks.
Tickets for all announced Just For Laughs shows are now on sale, and can be purchased by going to www.hahaha.com. The 37th edition of the festival runs from July 10 to 28.