Montreal Just For Laughs 40th edition line-up

Just For Laughs Montreal Festival

Every year, the Just For Laughs Festival promises its millions of fans that they will get to catch the biggest names in comedy … past, present and future. And this is even more so for the Just For Laughs 40th  edition, which runs from July 13 to 31. 

“This is going to be the biggest, star-studded festival ever,” said Just For Laughs CEO Bruce Hills, during a phone interview that took place on the day the first part of this year’s line-up was officially released. “We’re pulling out all the stops for our 40th anniversary edition, because we want to provide some levity after the past two years in this crazy world. The timing couldn’t be better to present a full-fledged, in-person festival.” 

Just For Laughs 40th edition

Hills stated that the 40th anniversary edition will be a tribute to the comedians who got their first major exposures and big breaks at the festival, as well as an important showcase for the comedy stars of the future.

“It will be like Just For Laughs’ greatest hits. Although we will pay tribute to the comedians who became stars after performing here, we also have to be current and never lose sight of the comedy stars of the future. That is why we will be having more New Faces shows than ever, because the discovery aspect of the festival is a huge priority for us,” he said.

Besides the previously announced Kevin Hart and Bill Burr concert shows at the Bell Centre, Just For Laughs will once again offer its series of flagship Galas; however, there are two new twists to them. The venue for the galas has been switched from Place des Arts’ Salle Wilfrid Pelletier to Theatre Maisonneuve. Also, the names for all this year’s hosts have been unveiled this week, instead of being staggered, which was practiced in past years. The gala hosts are: Hannah Gadsby (July 27), Chelsea Handler and Jo Koy (July 28), Iliza Shlesinger and Patton Oswalt (July 29), Marc Maron (July 30), and Russell Peters and Ronny Chieng (July 31). 

“All of this year’s gala hosts were very eager and wanted to be back to perform at Just For Laughs,” said Hills. “Announcing all the hosts at once and much earlier would give the fans more time to make their decisions, and hopefully give them the chance to attend more shows.”

“The decision to move the galas to Theatre Maisonneuve was based on offering a more intimate venue for the TV tapings and fitting the style of comedy of the comics who are scheduled to appear there, because the galas were, and still are, very much about the artists,” he added.

And Salle Wilfrid Pelletier won’t remain empty during the course of festival. It will serve as the site for a number of concert-type solo shows, including John Mulaney’s show “From Scratch” (July 28) and Hasan Minaj’s “The King’s Jester” (July 29). As well, the Gesu will host festival favorite Tommy Tiernan: Tomfoolery (July 25-30) and Neal Brennan: Unacceptable (July 26, 28 and 30); and the L’Olympia on St. Catherine Street East will be the place for Celeste Barber’s solo show “Fine. Thanks.” (July 28) and Vir Das’ “Wanted World Tour” (July 29).

The festival’s popular Club Series of shows will make a triumphant return, starting with The Ethnic Show, which is now being featured under the new name “Just For The Culture” (July 13-17, 20-28) at Club Soda and MTELUS. Hosted by longtime festival regular Alonzo Bodden, this showcase of diversity and multiculturalism through comedy features an impressive line-up that includes Dave Merheje, Paul Rabliauskas, Debra DiGiovanni, Jessica Kirson, Sheng Wang and Tanis Pappas. The festival’s bluest, edgiest series The Nasty Show will permeate the MTELUS with some of comedy’s filthiest, profanity-laced performers, with Big Jay Oakerson as your nasty host (July 20-24, 26-28). Brit(ish) will showcase some of the best comic talent imported directly from the British Isles at L’Astral, with Dara O Briain as special guest (July 27-30). And finally, probably one of Just For Laughs’ biggest sleeper hit series ever, Midnight Surprise, will be a feast for night owl comedy fans, as it makes its new home at the L’Astral (July 27-30). This nocturnal series is best known for being a place for comics to try out their material in front of a live audience before a major show performance at the festival; it’s also notorious for being a place for some of the biggest names in the comedy world such as Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Tiffany Haddish, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow to unexpectedly drop by and have some fun onstage.

“Over the years, many major comedy stars came to play at the Midnight Surprise,” said Hills. “I can’t promise that a number of today’s comedy superstars will make a guest appearance this year, but I wouldn’t count against it.”

Tickets will be on sale to the public as of March 25 at 10 a.m. JFLMTL Passes will also be available in 2-Show ($109.99), 3-Show ($149.99) and 5-Show ($225) formats; each pass includes up to 12 free tickets for shows during the course of the festival (some restrictions apply). For more information on Just For Laughs Montreal shows – or to purchase tickets – go to

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In other Just For Laughs-related news, actor/comedian/writer Tom Segura will bring his “I’m Coming Everywhere” World Tour to Montreal on September 18, 8 p.m., at the St. Denis Theatre. Segura’s previous tour played to sold out crowds in over 100 cities, and he can be seen on his Netflix stand-up specials “Ball Hog”, “Disgraceful”, “Mostly Stories” and “Completely Normal”, and can be heard regularly on his podcast “Your Mom’s House”. Tickets cost $55.75, $65.75 and $95.75, and can be purchased by going to

The CBC Gem streaming service is currently presenting season 2 of the Just For Laughs stand-up series “New Wave of Stand-up”. Filmed during Just For Laugh’s Vancouver festival, the series features 12 up and coming homegrown comics, as they bring their comedic best to the stage performing 10-minute sets each. The featured comics are Andrea Jin, Hisham Kelati, Allie Pearse, Abdul Aziz, Tin Lorica, Juliana Rodrigues, Maddy Kelly, Hoodo Hersi, Steev Letts, Janelle Niles, Marito Lopez, and Montrealer Nick Nemeroff. 

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