Toronto comedians furious after Just for Laughs takes over radio station
Hey @howiemandel I saw your little video about @canadalaughs I don’t think you grasp what’s happening. Because of Canadian only content plays on XM we’ve been making a steady monthly income for years. By playing random old JFL clips you’re taking away steady monthly residuals— Matt O'Brien (@matt_obrien) February 25, 2019
The merger, which was announced officially on Saturday by Toronto-born comedian Howie Mandel (a part owner of Just For Laughs), means that the station will no longer play exclusively Canadian content as it used to.
Instead, the new Just For Laughs Radio station will play stand-up from previous JFL festivals, which includes comics from Canada along with other countries including the U.S. and Australia.
@howiemandel did you know Canadian Comedians lobbied for Canada Laughs so that we could have a place for our work. Your Facebook live was smug & arrogant and confirmed everything we heard. No misinformation. Bad deal for Canadians. But I guess that’s Howie do it. #justformoney— Kathleen _ McGee (@Kathleen_McGee) February 25, 2019
This new content policy totally blows, according to many comics online, and financially impacts the ability of comedians to pursue stand-up as a full-time gig.
Canada Laughs has already transitioned to playing more JFL content, and comedians who used to get air play—and the resulting royalties from those plays—are no longer getting either.
Airplay on SiriusXM let some Canadian comics make something like a living wage and it's been stopped. I wish my depressed, defeatist mind wasn't right about this shit so often. It seems whenever we make money the industry will see it as an problem and "fix" it. #justformoney— Dave Atkinson (@shitshooters) February 25, 2019
The Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians sent a list of questions to SiriusXM and Just For Laughs last week, and the organization says they expect a response soon.
"CASC is not suggesting that only Canadian artists should get the economic infrastructure of support offered by JFL and SiriusXM," said the organization in a Facebook statement.
Hey @howiemandel @justforlaughs @SIRIUSXM just to let you know that Canadian comedians are standing strong together (and making fun of you, it's what we do) and we are not scared of your bullying tactics #justformoney— Neil Rhodes (@NeilWRhodes) February 26, 2019
"But, leaving Canadian performers largely out of the mix is an economic failure by the industry stakeholders that operate these events and program the radio broadcasts, as well as the government departments who use public tax dollars to fund them, and the public organizations that regulate them."
In the meantime, the Association held a town hall this evening at Toronto's Comedy Bar to address the issue.
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