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Just For Laughs Sells Comedy Catalog Amid Bankruptcy Protection

Just For Laughs Sells Comedy Catalog Amid Bankruptcy Protection

A near-1,000 title comedy library for the Just For Laughs comedy festival has been picked up by Amuz Distribution as part of a court-directed bankruptcy process.

Amuz Distribution, the parent of Quebec City-based ComediHa!, said it acquired the comedy programming catalog after the parent company of Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, Groupe Juste Pour Rire Inc., agreed to sell select assets as part of bankruptcy protection proceedings.

Amuz has hired Carlos Pacheco as director of monetization and OTT to distribute the comedy programming branded as Juste pour rire and Just For Laughs, the Gags. Pacheco most recently worked as director of OTT / FAST channel strategy and operations for Just For Laughs.

Alex Avon, chief revenue officer of Amuz, touted Pacheco as the head of its distribution efforts for the Just For Laughs branded comedy. “His experience in the global marketplace and especially as a leader in the OTT space will help us reach the company’s next level,” he said in a statement.

On March 5, Groupe Juste Pour Rire said it would restructure under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, secured creditors are owed $26.5 million in outstanding debt. That includes the National Bank of Canada, which is owed $16.6 million, and Bell Media, the Canadian media giant, which is looking to recover another $1 million in debt.

In 2018, ICM Partners and longtime client Howie Mandel joined a consortium that included local Quebec investors to acquire the Just For Laughs comedy group by picking up the controlling stake of JFL founder Gilbert Rozon.

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CAA is understood to retain a small stake in Just For Laughs after acquiring ICM in 2022, and Mandel is no longer part of the festival’s ownership consortium.

The Montreal-based comedy group got its start in the 1980s as an annual festival where Los Angeles and New York talent scouts discovered the Next Big Thing for Hollywood sitcoms and movie roles. But the rise of the internet and social media as discovery platforms for self-promoting comedians has pushed JFL festival down the assembly line for nascent comedy talent.

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