Just For Laughs co-founder Andy Nulman joins forces with new comedy festival

Just For Laughs co-founder Andy Nulman joins forces with new comedy festival

Just For Laughs co-founder and former executive Andy Nulman is joining forces with an upstart comedy festival.

Nulman will be working with the Festival du rire de Montréal as a consultant, the festival announced Wednesday in a statement.

In an interview, Nulman said comedian Martin Petit, one of the promoters of the event and a friend of his, asked for advice to help build the comedy festival creatively and strategically. Nulman agreed.

He said his involvement with the project comes from a place of positivity.

"As I mentioned in my first meeting we had, guys this is not a war. It's not against anyone. You can't create anything having to do with humour on the back of negativity and hatred. It's over," he said.

"Let's talk about doing things positively and looking toward a future where your goal, as artists, is to be happy and make people laugh."

Nulman was involved with the English division of the Just For Laughs festival for a total of about 30 years, but hasn't worked there for three years. He is now the co-founder and CEO of Play the Future, a mobile app.

He said they wanted to tap into his technology expertise and his thoughts on what comedy should sound like nowadays.

Going from working at Just For Laughs to this new festival is a natural progression, he said, because it's a way to meld his past and present.

The festival was created by a group of about 50 influential Quebec comedians in the wake of sexual assault allegations against former Just For Laughs president Gilbert Rozon.

Rozon stepped down from his position last month, after the claims came to light. He did not admit to any of the allegations.

Just For Laughs has vowed its festival will go on as planned next summer.

Is there room for 2 festivals?

When asked whether there is room in Montreal for competing comedy festivals, Nulman said it has happened before, both in Montreal and in other cities.

The comedy industry is a big one, he said, and the government will play a role in the future of both festivals. Economy Minister Dominque Anglade has already pledged provincial government support for the new festival, which is slated to have its first edition next year.

One question English-speaking comedians had following the announcement of the new festival is whether there will be room for them to perform as well.

He said it's too early to know what they will do exactly, although it would be "foolish to ever think that an event can go head-to-head with the juggernaut that is Just For Laughs."

He stressed that the group's goal is to do things differently, try things they haven't been able to before and be forward-looking.