Hilarity will ensue at Just For Laughs 2018

Jamie O'Meara

For over two and a half weeks every year, Montréal is the laughter capital of the world. The Just For Laughs comedy fest is one of the crown jewels in the city’s epic festival calendar, and comedy’s kings and queens – fab folks like Dave Chappelle, Trevor Noah, Tiffany Haddish and Howie Mandel – as well as royalty in the making are lined up to bust some guts at this 36th edition.

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A comedy fan’s wonderland

Hosting some 1,700 artists from nearly 20 countries and 1.35 million visitors at over 1,000 performances (including hundreds of free outdoor shows), Just For Laughs is by far and away the largest comedy festival on the planet. This year, from July 11 to 29, Just For Laughs will again bring a stellar array of top-tier comedians, A-list Hollywood TV and film stars, and the cream of the crop of up-and-coming comedians and sprinkle them throughout venues big and small in Montréal’s downtown Quartier des Spectacles. From bombastic Galas to the always-popular themed series, intimate club shows, in-conversations, live TV tapings, cast panels, live podcasts and more, the festival is a comedy fan’s fantasy come true.

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Galas galore

The Galas are invariably the focal point of the festival every year, and feature many of the biggest names in entertainment past and present. Greats such as Don Rickles, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Jeff Goldblum, Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer have graced the prestigious Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier stage in Place des Arts, Montréal’s crown jewel of soft-seat theatres, where the Galas take place every year. This year’s Gala hosts so far include The Daily Show host Trevor Noah (two shows on July 28), breakout Girl’s Trip star Tiffany Haddish (July 28), former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte (July 25), the unforgettable Mr. Chow of The Hangover fame, Ken Jeong (July 26), and Just For Laughs frequent flyer, and now festival part-owner, Howie Mandel (July 26).

Comedy’s big guns

It stands to reason that the festival’s biggest venue – the Bell Centre, home to the Montreal Canadiens – will also be the stage for the fest’s biggest names this year. It’s a music and comedy one-two punch when close amigos, and stars in their respective milieus, John Mayer and Dave Chappelle perform their Controlled Danger show in Canada for the first time, July 28. And something of a comedic rock star in his own right, Kevin Hart will have laughter in the rafters when he returns to the Bell Centre with his Kevin Hart: The Irresponsible Tour, July 27.

Laughter from the edge

Two of JFL’s most popular series – The Ethnic Show and The Nasty Show – return this year with truly outstanding lineups. The Ethnic Show, which leaves no culture untouched, returns for a tenth edition with its usual United Nations of comedians: host Iranian-American Maz Jobrani with special guest and former Teen Wolf actor Orny Adams, Bronx-raised Latina comedian Gina Brillon, opera-singer-turned-comedian Matteo Lane, Billboard comedy chart topper Francisco Ramos, and Ugandan-born comic and banana bread connoisseur Arthur Simeon. The Nasty Show tests the limits of the word “nasty,” and no doubt the outer boundaries will again be probed by brutally honest and unhinged host Robert Kelly, the almost painfully hilarious and must-see Brad Williams, Comedy Central star Nikki Glaser, Brooklyn stand-up veteran Mike Britt, Atlanta comedian Ms. Pat (who has a wild life story we can’t do justice to here), and awesome Montréal funny guy Derek Seguin. These series run intermittently throughout the duration of the fest; check the schedule here.

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All the funniness under the sun

And just in case you thought all the good times go down in dark clubs in the dead of night, the Just For Laughs outdoor site in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles offers a family friendly, all-day celebration of comedy and creativity. Live music, DJ dance parties, circus arts, street performers, amazing food (including Montréal’s famous food trucks), crazy installations and activities, all manner of performance and, of course, comedy take place on the expansive site.

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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