Just For Laughs goes back to school

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Published: 19May2011

The Just For Laughs Festival brought the media back to school last week, presenting its 2011 press conference at the McGill University Desautels Faculty of Management. Festival boss Andy Nulman, who presided over a brief power point presentation, joked that this was the very same class where he took a difficult course in statistics and pointed to his then teacher Morty Yalofsky, who was seated in the audience.

While the first section of the room was reserved for mainstream press, a slew of McGill students were on hand as well. They were asked to sign up via Facebook. Fans around the world got to watch the presser streamed live on the Internet and take part in a Q&A session via Twitter. Nulman welcomed the students on hand, but quipped, "I thought there would be more of you, but all of the students are now in Ottawa as part of the NDP."

He went to joke that with their $157,000 a year salaries as MPs, "they can now afford the McGill MBA Program." 

Meeting Russell Peters: The big surprise at last week's press conference was the unannounced appearance of Canadian superstar of comedy Russell Peters, who will host a pair of his own galas at Place des Arts July 28.  I recently saw the movie Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and shot here in Montreal at Mel's Cite de la Cinema. Peters actually stars as one of the suspected bombers and because the premise of this movie has Gyllenhaal's character repeating the same scene over and over again in an effort to find the perpetrator, Peters got major screen time.

Recognizing that I was a journalist, Peters reached out to shake my hand as he left the press conference and even posed for a photo. I told him how much I enjoyed him in Source Code and asked what it was like working with such big stars. "Jake was really cool," he said. "For a big movie star guy, I was expecting attitude, but he was very chill and cool."

Laugh Tracks: St. Laurent native Robbie Praw, the director of programming, told me the decision to fly Peters in at the last minute was meant to give a boost to the English side of the festival and add something fresh to the press conference....The fact Peters keeps coming back to the festival and the likes of late night superstar Craig Ferguson is returning as well illustrates the importance they place in the Montreal showcase.

"Yes we are very lucky that stars like Russell and Craig continue to support us and hold us in such high esteem," says JFL COO Bruce Hills.

Read full article: The Suburban News, May 19, 2011

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