Howie Mandel: Funny Money
(March 22, 2018 – Toronto, ON) When the founder of the Just For Laughs empire, Gilbert Rozon stepped away from his company last October following accusations of sexual misconduct and assault spanning three decades, there was little speculation who would end up owning the most successful comedy event in North America. Considered a “cultural treasure” in Québec, one of its largest shareholders, the all-powerful Québecor Group was thought to be the most obvious new owner. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank.
There were seven groups interested in buying the Just For Laughs Group. As it turns out, based on a 2012 partnership deal with the comedy festival, Québecor maintained a Right of First Refusal. What that means is they could effectively block any potential bid simply by matching it or offering a little more. Québecor announced last week it would not exercise that right and yesterday in Montreal it was announced that the company had been sold to Canadian comedian Howie Mandel and ICM Partners, a Los Angeles-based talent and literary agency.
ICM assured everyone that the Just For Laughs offices and festival would remain in Montreal. In fact, Pierre-Marc Johnson, the chairman of Just For Laugh’s board of directors stated, “They gave their word that they intend to keep operations in Montreal.”
Mandel, who has performed at Just For Laughs many times in the past 10 years said, “I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada.”
It should be noted that Gilbert Rozon has denied the allegations against him and they have not been proven in court.
The 36th annual Just For Laughs Festival will run from July 14 to July 28 in Montreal.