A Historic week in Canadian Comedy
The story broke on February 21st. Comedians were horrified to hear a new deal between Just For Laughs and SiriusXM on the takeover of the Canadian radio property called “Canada Laughs 168” which was apparently already happening.
The problem was, “Canada Laughs” on SiriusXM channel 168, was lobbied and fought for by comedians so they can have a place where their content can get play and paid. Comedians made that channel happen. A channel where 100% of all content came from Canadian comedians.
“For some people, this is their primary source of income,” Sandra Battaglini, a Toronto comic and head of the two-year-old association, said in an interview Monday. “It’s devastating for people, because these changes have already started happening, and people have stopped being played.”
In what was an obvious oversight to the community, a partnership between Just For Laughs and SiriusXM has been made and the show Canada Laughs on channel 168 on Sirius XM was to be rebranded to “Just For Laughs Radio” and play only JFL content, featuring
This lit the Canadian comedy community on fire as this was one of the only platforms creating a source of income for independent comedy album producers in Canada.
So Howie Mandel, who is part owner of JFL, took to FB live on Sunday to try an ease the panic comedians were having all over the country. His message did not but reinforce what comedian already thought.
“There will be content from Europe, Australia and the States but it will still be Canadian” Howie Mandel says.
I don’t think that went as well as he thought it did.
Now how much of this was true? It was true this takeover, merge, “retooling” was going to happen. SiriusXM approached Just For Laughs for Canadian Comedy content. Makes sense right? Except JFL is not just Canadian content.
You can understand why they were so angry, threatened and disheartened by the whole situation. If someone came along and took away even a portion of your income without any warning, would you be happy about it?
Just For Laughs has grown internationally since its inception over 35 years ago. With festivals in Australia, United States
CASC held Town Hall today at the Comedy Bar on Tuesday, February 26th at the Comedy Bar to gather the community and discuss this matter. Turn out was amazing and passion filled the room. If you missed it, watch the video before.
For the first time, these entities like Just For Laughs and SiriusXM had an association to reach out and talk to. They can now get their message out to the community of Canadian comedians and CASC can help everyone understand the situation.
24 hours later, Just For Laughs put out an official statement saying the following:
“Today, we wish to announce our new strategy for Canadian Comedy on SiriusXM Canada.
- The new channel on SiriusXM 168 will be called Just For Laughs Canada and it will showcase 100 percent Canadian content;
- All the content will be produced by Canadian artists independent of the Just For Laughs
- Canadian artists will be eligible for the same royalties as under the previous channel. “
“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.”Bruce Hills, President of Just For Laughs
Social media was flooded with happy emojis, comments of congrats and the purpose of CASC was not only
“CASC congratulates our Members, and other Canadian comedians from across the country and abroad, for uniting to convey a strong message to industry stakeholders that inspired positive action that will benefit Canadian comedians for years to come.”eCASC Executive
You can read the CASC Official Statement on the reversal of the decision here.
Working with the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians has put The Mob at the front and center of the storm. Seeing just how deeply this impacts the community, CASC has never been needed more than before.
When I started covering comedy almost 10 years ago in Montreal, I never thought I would be involved with an Association that stood for these amazing comedians whom I consider many my friends.
Comedy has been to me, and many others, a way to forget life, to cope with life and make a living. Without laughter, I do not know where I would be.
CASC got the ball rolling, now let’s keep the momentum up. As a consumer of comedy, you can help us get the Government to recognize comedy as an art form. It’s an election year. Make some noise to your local MP and let’s get them talking.
If you want to see how you can help with the next steps, please check out the CASC Action Plan
United, We Have Power.