Everybody knows how stellar the line-up is for Just For Laughs’ paying shows. This summer, during the festival’s 30th anniversary, you can see none other than The Muppets, Bob Saget and Chelsea Handler. But how about this for a punch line: paying is for suckers. Especially when you can experience a Cirque du Soleil-inspired parade, outdoor movie screenings and hundreds of cheerleaders doing something or other, all without dropping a dime…
Just For Laugh’s free outdoor programming centres around Terra Karnaval this year, an umbrella event produced by Roy Box and Les Arts Carnavalent under the tutelage of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. Starting on July 14, the event involves performances in the street starring a character called Iro, as well as acrobats, clowns and circus performers galore from the four corners of the globe. From July 15 to 28, six big shows a night will take place on the Place des Festivals starting at 9 pm.
Terra Karnaval is also behind this year’s annual mega-parade, where over a thousand Montrealers from far and wide march down the street. Last year’s extravaganza was, as you can see in the video above, inspired and presided over by Jean Paul Gaultier, while the 2012 theme is “New Wolds”, and the tableaux were inspired by children’s drawings. Check it out along Sainte-Catherine Street on July 14, starting at 8:30 pm.
Another parade not to miss is the annual twins parade, on July 22, which this year will gather hundreds and hundreds of international twins dressed up as clowns, thanks to the theme, Qui dit un, dit deux! Qui dit clone, dit clown! Stephen King, eat your heart out.
More along the lines of fantasy than nightmare, Just For Laughs will be trying to break a Guinness record by uniting the most cheerleaders together ever in one single choreography on its Videotron stage. Right in the heart of things, that’s a good go-to stage throughout the fest: apart from nightly Terra Karnaval shows it’s also home to acrobatic performances including an otherworldly spectacle by the famous Voàla Project and the Grand Jam 3.0, on July 21, a grandiose, high-coloured show during which Karaval performers will celebrate Just For Laughs’ 30-year mark.
On the Loto-Québec stage meanwhile, you can see live comedy and musical happenings, mostly by local performers including Réal Béland, Maxim Martin, Mike Ward, the Denis Drolet duo and musician-magician extraordinaire Socalled.
And, in an exciting first for the fest’s outdoor fun, are the free movie projections: flicks like Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist and The Muppets (July 23, 24 & 25 at 9 p.m., Place des Festivals) will be a sweet reason to carry popcorn in your pocket. It might also come in handy to leave a trail for yourself out of the giant, 900-square foot hedge labyrinth that’s right there on the Promenade des Artistes. In other words: at Just For Laughs, you’ll get lost in the fun!
Just For Laughs Festival, July 10-29, 2012
Isa Tousignant is contributing editor for Canadian Art, Montreal correspondent for Akimbo, and a freelance writer on art, culture, travel, design and shoes for everyone from enRoute to Canadian Business to herself.