The world’s largest comedy event presents over 2000 shows, of which more than 1500 are free.
The laughs keep coming at the 2016 edition of the Montréal Just For Laughs Festival which will showcase some 100 comics from around the world, between July 13 to August 1. In addition to ticketed shows, Just For Laughs is hosting a twins parade and full schedule of free events on their outdoor site at Place des Arts. Here are all the details you need to get the most out of the festival experience.
Montréal Just For Laughs Festival, July 13 to August 1, 2015
What you’re getting into
A world-class event that unites the globe’s funniest people in Montréal’s downtown core, pretty much. From July 13 to August 1, Montréal’s Quartier des spectacles and a few venues slightly beyond host dozens of ticketed indoor shows and more free exterior entertainment than you can shake a funny bone at. This edition features such unmissable headliners as Carrie Fisher, Nathan Lane, Sarah Silverman, Howie Mandel, Russell Peters, NHL superstar P.K. Subban and NBA superstar Blake Griffin, Janeane Garofalo, Lewis Black, Scott Thompson, Emo Philips, Hannibal Buress, David Cross, Bobby Slayton and George Wallace.
Highlights include The Ethnic Show (July 13 to 28) hosted by Rachid Badouri and The Nasty Show (July 20 to 30) hosted by Mike Ward, solo-show series by comedy icon Louie Anderson, Gad Elmaleh, Iliza Shlesinger and famed openly-gay British comic Alan Carr who says, “For me, a joke is a joke, fair and square. If it makes me laugh then I put in in the act.”
The 2016 edition of Just For Laughs also features Emmy winner Julie Louis-Dreyfus headlining An Evening with the Cast of Veep and comedy superstar Kevin Hart – fresh from selling out Montréal’s Bell Centre at last year’s festival –hosting his much-anticipated Laugh Out Loud Network Pitch Panel.
Outdoor on-site highlights include free concerts by Montréal drag legend Mado Lamotte hosting her French-language Mado’s Got Talent show on July 19; Motown legends The Jacksons (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon) will perform their classic hits at a free outdoor show on July 20; Montréal comedy superstar Sugar Sammy headlining his sensational bilingual You’re Gonna Rire concert on July 28, not to mention the Twins Parade on July 23 and the Vintage Car exhibition on July 24.
What to bring
Like any other large-scale festival, there are a few essentials. First on the list would be comfortable shoes, as you will likely do a lot of walking from show to show and throughout the site. Loose, light clothing – it can get very hot in Montréal at this time of the year – as well as a hat and sunscreen are highly recommended, not to mention a reusable water bottle (but not one made of glass or aluminum) to keep hydrated. You’ll also be thankful for a rain poncho or an umbrella in the case of a summer shower.
What not to bring
These items are prohibited on site: any alcoholic beverages (there are plenty on on-site kiosks selling beer, wine and mixed drinks, as well as numerous patios and food trucks should you feel like catching a bite); glass and aluminum containers; all pets (except service dogs); folding and portable chairs; and bicycles, skateboards and roller skates.
Getting to the festival. You’ll find several payable parking lots around the site, including at Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and Université du Québec à Montréal. Holders of a disabled parking permit will have access to reserved spaces in the parking garage at Place des Arts. With all the road closures, however, best bet is to come by public transport; the nearest Métro stations are Place-des-Arts and Place-d’Armes.
Important on-site info
Where the heck are all these places? You’ll find maps of the JFL outdoor site at all on-site information kiosks.
Are there children in your entourage? Except for notable exceptions like The Nasty Show, Just For Laughs is a family-friendly affair, with fun for kids at every turn. From July 16 to 30, La Place de la famille le Lait is open daily from 1 pm to 9 pm and offers rides, activities and fun workshops hosted by a group of madcap characters. JFL also presents the bilingual French-and-English show Gala de Ouf – Kids Cabaret featuring performers under the age of 16, from July 20 to 24.
Is all that laughing making you hungry and thirsty? There are plenty of diverse on-site offerings, including some 30 food-trucks at Bouffons! Mtl, a unique setup along Sainte-Catherine Street between Jeanne-Mance Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard, featuring open-sky bars, various food kiosks, gourmet products for sale and more. There are also plenty of bars and terrasses around the site. Otherwise, Montréal offers an incredible wealth of food and drink options in the blocks that surround the site, with diverse eateries downtown, in Chinatown, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Old Montréal, an easy walk away.
If you lose something, don’t panic. Contact one of the clearly-marked employees who will guide you to the right place. If you cannot find a lost object, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
The survival of the planet is also important. To reduce its environmental footprint, JFL has introduced $2 reusable cups at some of its bars. There are also recycling receptacles throughout the site.