Sacre bleu!

Just For Laughs Group (Groupe Juste Pour Rire), responsible for throwing the biggest comedy festival in the world each July in Montreal, as well as fests in Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney, television specials, series and tours, has new owners. Howie Mandel and ICM Partners top an investor group that has acquired JFL founder Gil Rozon’s stake in the group. They’re seeking other investors from Quebec.

Mandel, best known now as a judge for America’s Got Talent, is not only a Canadian native but also a mainstay at JFL galas, hosting multiple specials in recent years that have aired on The CW.

Having ICM in charge of JFL certainly puts a new spin on the whole New Faces concept. Would the agency already snap them all up as clients? We’ll have to see how that works, exactly.

In a joint statement, the new owners maintain that everything else — including personnel running the fest — will remain the same for now.

 “The Montreal Just For Laughs Festival is part of Montreal’s DNA, and we are looking forward to perpetuating this great cultural legacy. The Festival will continue to be held in Montreal each summer, and jobs and offices will remain in Montreal. We will be counting on the local team’s expertise as well as on partners and governments who have supported the Festival for decades and made it the Canadian flagship that it is. We are excited to put together a phenomenal 2018 edition, and we will continue to work closely with local talent for years to come. JFL’s history of success will be continued: its outdoor component, its French and English components, and the amazing talent, both from Quebec and from around the world, that makes this Festival so unique.”

Mandel said: “I have always been a big fan of Montreal and the Just For Laughs festival. I have performed at JFL many times over the last 10 years, and I have nothing but love for this event. I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada; and I am very excited to be part of this group of investors that will ensure the Festival’s long term success, while growing their global comedy brand.”

From Chris Silbermann, ICM Partners managing director: “Just For Laughs has done a phenomenal job of producing the world’s most respected comedy festival for decades and have built that into a very successful global comedy business. We see a great opportunity to work with them to grow the global comedy brand, in both French and English speaking comedy, while allowing the team on the ground in Montreal to continue to produce the festival as they have so successfully for all these years.”

Just For Laughs began as a French comedy festival in Montreal in 1983.

This year’s bilingual edition will run from July 14-28, 2018.