There are many things the Just for Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival does very well. The show packages, comics who show up, and the “if you hate the show, we’ll give you another similar value show for free” is certainly proof they care about the audience and believe Just For Laughs is putting an excellent festival together. These make this stand-up comedy festival worth planning a trip around … so far.
“What were you thinking?” is the question some bigwigs at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival will have to answer July 09 after the fiasco caused by the “Friend of the Festival” card. For $25, this “membership” card allows you to get advance notification on shows (fair enough), tickets to another show if you think your show sucked (good deal but this was already an option, better access to better seats and, and here’s the kicker, be allowed in a special line that will get you in the general admission shows before everybody else.
Does anyone at Just For Laughs seriously think this privileged line-up vs. paying peasants line-up is NOT going to cause chaos, shouting and shoving matches, and, most importantly, send a bunch of very angry people into a comedy club? I would hate to be the MC or warm-up act who has to calm down a very grumpy audience.
Montreal audiences are polite and well-mannered. The Montreal Jazz Festival manages to get up to a quarter of a million people in one place to see a free show and nothing untoward ever happens but this stems from a “we’re all in this together” attitude.
Nobody, nobody likes to be made to feel, never mind shown they are a second class citizen. This is what the special advance Friends of the Festival line-up does.
You might say $25 is not much to pay for the privilege but that is per person. My many years of experience at Just For Laughs indicate security is laidback. Enforcement of the first to show up is first in line rule never is applied much. I have seen groups of 10 or 20 put a stooge in the front so everybody else can show up late and skip ahead. This is going to be even more aggravating when the stooge is in the “Friends” line and the cards are not checked.
Just For Laughs starts today. I am not looking forward to standing in the peasants’ line.