Just for laughs

Just For Laughs is now cancelling Toronto festival as part of debt restructuring

The company behind the biggest comedy festival in Canada is filing for bankruptcy, and that’s bad news for the Canadian arts community.

Just for Laughs Group, an entertainment company based in Montreal, made the announcement on March 5, revealing its decision to initiate formal restructuring proceedings under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

According to a news release from the company, the move comes after extensive deliberation by JPR’s board of directors, who faced the daunting reality of the organization’s challenging financial circumstances. Despite exploring various avenues, it became evident that restructuring was the only viable option to address the pressing financial challenges and chart a path forward for the company.

In light of the decision, JPR states that it aims to leverage the restructuring process to seek potential investors or strategic buyers for its business segments, with the overarching goal of maximizing value for its stakeholders. While navigating through the restructuring phase, the company intends to sustain its operations albeit in a scaled-down capacity.

One notable consequence of the restructuring is the cancellation of the 2024 edition of the Just for Laughs / Juste pour rire festival. However, the company says there is optimism for the festival’s return in 2025 once the restructuring process is completed.

Although a festival representative initially said both the Toronto edition of Just For Laughs and the Ali Wong shows a running at Meridian Hall later this month would not be cancelled , a statement from the company on March 6 confirms the festival will in fact be shut down for 2024. Although there is no mention of other shows such as Ali Wong.

“Once the restructuring of the organization is completed, JPR hopes that the festival will take place in 2025,” the statement read.

just for laughs
Instagram: Fred Armisen, who performed at Just For Laughs in Toronto last year

Since 2012, JFL in Toronto has showcased top stand-up artists, supported emerging talent, and boosted local tourism. The 2023 festival marked significant growth, including the addition of a new outdoor street festival.

The decision to pursue restructuring was not taken lightly and was prompted by a series of challenges that JPR has encountered in recent years. The impact of the global pandemic looms large, having forced the organization to halt operations for two years while grappling with reduced revenues and ongoing overhead costs. Moreover, the economic inflationary pressures have further exacerbated the financial strain on the company, necessitating a reevaluation of its operational strategies.

Despite the challenges, the company is aiming to restructure its position to achieve long-term success, ensuring the preservation of its 40-year legacy.