For those of you who weren’t aware, something happened this week in the Canadian comedy world that had the potential to devastate our homegrown stand-up comedy scene. Canada Laughs, a Sirius XM Canada station, which featured 100% independent Canadian comedians, was suddenly taken over by Just For Laughs. We learned that JFL had taken control of programming only when Canadian comedians were pulled from the airwaves and replaced with old (very old) JFL recordings of mostly American performances.
So what’s the big deal, you ask?
Well, and this might be a shock so prepare yourself… Canadian comics have little opportunity to make real money in Canada. One of the few options that Canadian comics have is to record a live album. The usual way (but not always) to do this is to scrape together all the cash they can, borrow from friends and family or cry into a Tim Horton’s cup on the street while people throw loose change into it. Once these albums are recorded, they are submitted to the usual places. In most cases, royalties received from Canada Laughs, however, by far provides the most reliable source of income. We’re talking, pay your rent, all the Top Ramen you can carry and a metro pass so you can get to your gigs kind of reliability.
So let me repeat: This would have been devastating. For comedians as well as every Canadian who enjoys listening to and watching live comedy.
Fortunately, the entire comedy scene – the Canadian Association of Stand-Up Comedians, independent artists, comics who have already “hit the big time”, supporters, promoters and fans – reacted swiftly and in unison. Everyone rallied, contacted the media, vented on social media AND some incredible individuals dropped out of their JFL showcase opportunities in a unified protest.
And guess what? Sirius XM and JFL listened.
TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, we wish to announce our new strategy for Canadian Comedy on SiriusXM Canada.
- The new channel on SiriusXM 168 will be called Just For Laughs Canada and it will showcase 100 per cent Canadian content;
- All the content will be performed by Canadian artists independent of the Just For Laughs catalogue; and
- Canadian artists will be eligible for the same royalties as under the previous channel.
We spoke with Sandra Battaglini from the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians (CASC) and informed her of our plans for the channel.
“We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of Canadian artists and regret the stress we have caused the comedy community. We are invested in the growth of Canada’s comedy industry and are working to include even more Canadian talent in all our initiatives. To that end, we will continue to engage directly with the industry and work with CASC to strengthen and advance Canadian comedy.” – Bruce Hills, President of Just For Laughs
“Our partnership with Just For Laughs Canada provides an opportunity to bring Canada’s comedic talent to a larger audience in Canada and the United States. We understand the importance our platform has to comedians in Canada, and along with Just For Laughs, we will continue to work closely with that community to ensure its success.” – John Lewis, SVP of Programming and Operations, SiriusXM Canada
SOURCE Sirius XM Canada Holdings Inc.
For further information: Just For Laughs Press contact: Charlene Coy (firstname.lastname@example.org); SiriusXM Canada Press contact: Kayla J. Schwartz – Senior Manager, Communications (email@example.com)
We at Black Sheep Comedy think we can speak for all emerging and future generations of comics when we say, thank you to all of the brave and amazing comedians who put their careers on the line this week to protest what would’ve been a devastating blow to Canada Comedy. Thank you as well to the Canadian Association of Stand-Up Comedians for fighting this fight, and Thank you to Sirius XM and Just For Laughs for hearing our cries and then fixing the situation so quickly.
Black Sheep Comedy will be donating a portion of our show revenues to CASC.
To be honest, though, we make pretty much nothing so they’ll probably just get our couch change and pocket lint. So, if you would like to supplement our generous offer of coins and lint, please donate to CASC and help keep independent Candadian comedy alive.
The more support we give, the more we can do to find ways to become less reliant on a single revenue source.