It’s a big win for comedy, Just for Laughs, and Canada tonight as Just for Laughs released the news that they have completely restructured their plans for a takeover of a SiriusXM Canada comedy channel.
The team at Just for Laughs abandoned a plan to use the new SiriusXM channel to air tracks of comedians recorded at Just for Laughs festivals worldwide which would have included American stars and International performers as well. Instead, the new Just for Laughs Radio channel will showcase 100 percent Canadian content, produced by Canadian artists independent of the Just for Laughs Catalogue. And all Canadian artists played on the channel will be eligible to receive royalties. The new channel will now be called Just For Laughs Canada.
Not only is this a huge victory for Canadian comedians, its a monster PR victory for Just for Laughs, which will now be seen as the company that takes care of homegrown comedians.
The change comes after Just For Laughs had announced on Monday that they were taking over SiriusXM Canada’s “Canada Laughs” channel. Canada Laughs, which until now was curated by SiriusXM producers, had played bits and tracks from Canada’s top, up and coming, and independent comedians, and performers received significant royalties. JFL’s announced plans (as of Monday) were to officially air stand up tracks recorded at Just for Laughs festivals and events around the world. No more indie submissions. No more royalties for the comics who had come to count on the income and exposure that Canada Laughs provided. When news of the change leaked over the weekend, comedians aggressively expressed their unhappiness with the news.
Howie Mandel attempted to clear up some misunderstandings and smooth over the hurt and anger, but that didn’t exactly work out well (read more on that here).
But after conversations with Sandra Battaglini from the newly formed Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians (CASC), it looks like a positive solution has been found.
Bruce Hills, President of Just for Laughs said that they heard the artists concerns and want to show that they are invested in local talent. “We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of Canadian artists and regret the stress we have caused the comedy community. We are invested in the growth of Canada’s comedy industry and are working to include even more Canadian talent in all our initiatives. To that end, we will continue to engage directly with the industry and work with CASC to strengthen and advance Canadian comedy.”
Todays news should heal a fracture between the Just for Laughs enterprise and the strong contingent of Canadian comics and hopefully send a message that business and support don’t have to be mutually exclusive.