Montreal

Just For Laughs festival books star comedian Kevin Hart for Montreal show

The comedy festival has announced that superstar Hollywood comedian Kevin Hart will perform a one-night only show at the Bell Centre, July 27. It's been a difficult couple of months for the festival, ever since misconduct allegations came to light concerning founder Gilbert Rozon.

Comedy festival off to a strong programming start, months after being embroiled in controversy

Kevin Hart will perform at the Bell Centre July 27. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)

The Just For Laughs comedy festival announced Monday that superstar comedian Kevin Hart will perform a one-night-only show at the Bell Centre, July 27.

It's been a difficult couple of months for the festival, ever since sexual misconduct allegations came to light concerning founder and then-president Gilbert Rozon. He stepped down from his role in October.

But it seems organizers are determined to put together an all-star lineup and dispel rumours about the festival's uncertain future.

This news comes not long after the festival announced that another huge name would perform for free at Place des Festivals: The Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys will play a free, outdoor show in downtown Montreal in July.

They also announced that Mado Lamotte will be back for a fifth edition of her Mado's got talent show, featuring drag-queens, circus artists and comedians.

Additional programming will be announced in the coming months, including billing for the festival's signature Nasty Show and Ethnic Show.

Hart's last show in Montreal was in 2015, when he performed to a sold-out crowd.

He also held a two-minute pitch session at the 2016 festival, sourcing talent for his digital streaming LOL Network.

Moving Mind Studio, a comedy group based in Montreal, was one of the industry newcomers chosen by Hart personally.

Members of Moving Mind Studio (Ryan George, Samuel Brisson and Brandon Calder) pose with Kevin Hart at the 2016 Just for Laughs festival. (Just For Laughs ComedyPro)

Tickets for the Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour go on sale Jan. 31 at noon.

Uncertain future

In the weeks following the misconduct scandal, a number of media outlets began to distance themselves from the festival, announcing they would no longer broadcast JFL content. 

Marketing and advertising experts told Radio-Canada in the fall that some government and private sponsors would likely be reconsidering their relationship as well.

Rozon agreed to sell all his ownership shares in the company, but no buyer publicly has come forward yet.

Not long after the news broke, a rival comedy festival popped up on the Montreal arts and culture landscape.

Originally branding itself as Festival du rire de Montréal and then switching to Le Grand Montréal comédie fest, the event will prove a competitor for JFL when it comes to both audiences and funding.

According to government documents, JFL received about $4.5 million a year in funding from all three levels of government in 2016.

With files from The Canadian Press

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