The high profile comedy festival, Just For Laughs has had a Chicago leg since 2009, but it will be taking a break from the windy city in 2014.
JFL CEO Bruce Hills revealed to The Chicago Tribune that they’re not returning this summer, “We’ve decided to take a year off to rethink the festival model, to adjust to the current marketplace.” JFL recently re-tooled the Toronto leg of Just For Laughs, morphing it into an interactive event called JFL42 and that possibility appears to be an option for Chicago for 2015.
TBS has been a big sponsor for JFL Chicago in years past, broadcasting the major Chicago Theatre shows as specials. But those have waned over the years as the big fan events have stayed. That relationship is currently unknown but it’s pretty clear that the festival as we know it in Chicago will never be the same if/when it returns to the city.
As someone who has attended both the Chicago and main festival in Montreal I have to say this is a bummer to hear. The Chicago festival is way more focused on the public and fans and featured really great headlining acts. While Montreal has always had more of an industry vibe to it. The two festivals were closely butted together, with Chicago in Mid June and Montreal in July. Would having them staggered further apart allow for more comedy fans to rally and not pick one over the other? International vs. local? All interesting questions.
Either way, Chicago is a great city and deeply rooted in comedy so seeing it without a marquee comedy festival is definitely a bummer. Hopefully this will be remedied soon.