Going into this year's Just for Laughs Festival the organizers were carrying a $400,000 deficit. Surprising since the festival is so popular; it just goes to show you how expensive it is to put on a festival of this size and quality. The good news is that more people than ever, 2 million, came to the festival and it took in $9 million dollars in ticket sales, which is up from the $7.2 million from last year. What was revealed and should be of interest to all in the Montreal tourism industry is that one quarter of the ticket sales came from tourists. That meant a steady influx of people using restaurants, staying in hotels and shopping during the month of July. The Just for Laughs festival is big business not just for themselves but also many other industries in Montreal.
Most of the success has to do with the excellent programming at this year's festival. Shows by Margaret Cho, The Wiseguys, The Nasty Show, and La Clique were sold out with nary a ticket to be found. Most other shows like Britcom, Bill Cosby and the Galas were filled to near capacity. Montrealers really support this festival and this is the reason why we get huge acts to perform at the festival. It has obtained its worldwide reputation as the premiere comedy festival through hard work by the organizers and the receptiveness of the public here for different and innovative performers. The festival now has the ability to make or break a performer.
In an excellent case of timing and good marketing, the Just for Laughs Festival extended two of its shows, Queer Comics and Dragapella, to coincide with the World Outgames 2006 that are happening presently in Montreal. These two shows will happen from July 31st until August 4th at Club Soda nightly at 7:00 (Dragapella) and 9:30 (Queer Comics). It seems like Montrealers and those visiting our sticky hot fair town cannot get enough of the laughter offered to us by Just for Laughs.
Next year the festival will be happening from July 12th until July 22nd, 2007 and it will be celebrating its 25th anniversary! Happy quarter of a century Just for Laughs!