Move over SNL; there’s a whole new family in town and they’re here to stay. The city of Laval is about to be propelled into elite status, ready to come out from behind the long shadow of Montreal’s cultural scene.

Two Years in the Making
This September, prepare to be entertained on a whole new level in venues across the city. Festival Laval en Rires/Laval Laughs promises to be an epic comedy festival unparalleled in its bilingual programming, free and accessible activities for the whole family, all while celebrating Laval’s multicultural and ethnic diversity.

The idea behind Laval’s very own comedy festival originated with its Founder and Producer, Luigi Morabito. As the Founder of Laval Families Magazine and Laval en Famille Magazine, Morabito has had his fingers on the pulse of the city for nearly a decade. “The idea for the Festival came through the community, actually, and people were telling us that Laval was missing certain cultural events, or large-scale events,” says Morabito. “In everything that I take on, I always listen to the needs of the community and try to make it happen in a way that contributes to the city and to family life.”

Morabito has organized many events for youth and families around the city in recent years, so it was only natural that when presented with a new challenge, he took it head on, surrounding himself with top talent and movers and shakers of the comedy world, such nationally renown comic Franco Taddeo, who is the festival’s Artistic Director and Director of Programming. “From the very beginning, our goal was always to contribute to the cultural scene in Laval through humour,” says Taddeo. “Because everyone can relate to aspects of daily life, humour is part of culture, and that makes it accessible to everyone.”

Despite Laval being the third largest city in Quebec, Morabito says that until now, there weren’t any large-scale events that could attract locals as well as tourists after the typical summer tourism period closes in August. In addition to creating a longer tourist season, bolstering local businesses and creating dozens of seasonal jobs, the comedy programming will reflect not only the bilingualism of the city, but its diverse and rich multiculturalism.

A Festival with Two Distinct Features
Even though comedy is at the forefront, Festival Laval en Rires/Laval Laughs is committed to accessibility and inclusivity, so that there is something for everyone, and for the whole family. The entire event will take place from September 20th to the 30th and will have two distinct features. The outdoor portion of the festival will take place on the aptly-named site, Place Laval en Rires, situated at Centropolis, while the indoor comedy shows will take place at venues all across the city.

Place Laval en Rires
Place Laval en Rires is the place to be from September 27th to the 30th and is the site where all the free outdoor family fun activities will take place. Situated on more than 77 thousand square feet, it will be open to the public to come and enjoy outdoor music concerts, dancing, singing, video game zones, arts and crafts workshops, zip lining, and plenty of food and beverage kiosks.

As an extra nod to promoting local, emerging and internationally renown comedic talent, Place Laval en Rires visitors will first enter the site through the Promenade des humouristes, featuring an outdoor corridor with life-size cut-outs of each of the comedians performing in the festival, along with biographical information on the individual. “This creates an interesting and interactive experience for visitors, giving well-known and soon-to-be-discovered talent across Canada and the US an added measure of exposure,” says Taddeo.

Aline Dib, municipal councillor for St-Martin and member of the administrative council for the STL, spoke at the press conference announcing the festival. Dib says that the Shuttle 360 will be available from the 27th to 30th to bring users from Metro Montmorency to Place Laval en Rires. Dib also says that the Autobus du rire, a new concept whose details will be unveiled soon, will be a surprise in which citizens will have the opportunity to spend some unforgettable moments with some of the comedians. “It’s really a pleasure to participate in this large-scale event,” says Dib.

Indoor Comedy Shows
Throughout the 10 days of the festival, there will be approximately 14 shows to choose from, some in English, some in French, as well as a bilingual show. Each show centers around a theme, so patrons can personalize their comedy experience. Show names like “Le Show de Chez Nous”, “The Relationship Show”, “Ethnically Speaking” or “Bonjour Hi” immediately indicate the range of fun to be had, and the variety doesn’t stop there.

The festival aims to create a fun and welcoming environment for newcomers on the comedy scene as well, which allows patrons to discover their next favourite comedian. “The Newbies Show” is not to be missed. Ticket prices will vary as well, depending on the show and venue. “No matter your budget or preference for comedy, there is something for everyone,” says Taddeo.

If that isn’t impressive enough, this first-time festival has already confirmed that some of the top comedic talent in the French and English comedy world will be performing. Mario Jean, Olivier Martineau, Eddie King, Freddie James, Chantal Desjardins, Martin Turgeon, NEEV, Pantelis, and Mélanie Couture will be among the performers, along with so many more. “We still have a few surprises up our sleeve that we haven’t yet revealed,” says Morabito.

The full programming for the festival will be available over the summer period at festivallavallaughs.ca.

Making an Impact on the Community
In addition to its family-centered outdoor programming and thematic indoor comedy shows, there is an element of community building woven into the fabric of the entire event. “This festival will allow people to discover a city that is active and vibrant, and for the locals, it will create a sense of belonging too,” says Francine Charbonneau, MNA for Mille-Îles, Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying and Minister responsible for the Laval region. “This is going to bring people of all ages and cultures together, to laugh together. That makes all the difference and laughing together is universal; there’s no official language needed for that.”

Support and Partners
“It’s really nice to see new projects like the Festival Laval en Rires/Laval Laughs originate on our territory,” says Marc Demers, Mayor of Laval. “This festival will help make Laval shine in the hearts of all those who love to laugh. I wish the entire team a memorable and resounding success for the first year.”

David De Cotis, Vice-Mayor of Laval, agrees. “The Festival is unique and will definitely contribute to putting Laval on the map, not just for cultural events but also for tourism and local business,” says De Cotis. “We’re really looking forward to the success of this first edition of Festival Laval en Rires.”

The festival is undoubtably a plus for Tourisme Laval, whose Director General, Geneviève Roy, spoke at the press conference. “This festival is in total harmony with our mission at Tourisme Laval, particularly with its emphasis on being family-centered,” she says.

Like any large-scale event in a big city, the entire endeavour is made possible by dedicated and enthusiastic sponsors, such as Nino and Renato De Cubellis of Jaguar Land Rover Laval. As title owners of the event, their early implication and support of the festival was key. “For years we have made it part of business to support the cultural and community aspects of the city of Laval,” say the brothers. “When we heard about this project, we saw its potential immediately and wanted to be one of the first businesses in Laval to help develop it. The visibility a festival of this nature will bring to our city is unprecedented! It will draw locals and visitors from surrounding areas, not to mention tourists that will all feed our city’s economy. Jaguar Land Rover Laval wants to encourage that exposure for all of us who live and work in Laval.”

Equally enthusiastic is co-presenter Pâtisserie St-Martin, initiated by Joey Musumeci, Founder of the bakery that has been a staple in Laval for more than 30 years. “I’ve known Luigi for several years. From the time I met him, I knew his heart was always in it for the community,” says Musumeci. “We are proud sponsors because we believe in what he is doing, that he always does things with integrity, and we’re happy to partner with him in this new adventure.”

With the complex nature of multiple indoor venues across the city and the outdoor activities at Place Laval en Rires, a professional audio/visual/technical team is primordial. The official support in this area will be from Groupe Kloda Évènements, a company spearheaded by local citizen Archie Cifelli, who is the Executive Vice-President. “We have been fortunate to have worked with Russel Peters, Kevin Hart, Festival Just For Laughs, along with many local comedy nights, which have given us the knowledge and expertise around any comedy-centered festival,” says Cifelli. “This festival will be a great gathering point for family and friends to spend some quality time together over many good laughs. Knowing it will be the first festival and its beginning will be in our city, it gives me the bragging rights that our city of Laval has its own comedy festival with a complete sense of belonging.”

As the slogan of the festival proudly states, “It starts with a laugh…and it starts in Laval.”

For tickets and more information: www.festivallavalenrires.ca