On the North American festival front, Laval may not be all that well-known… that is, until Laval Laughs Festival roars into town from September 20-30. The line-up, which is still being finalised, is already a who’s who of local and Quebec-wide talent, with 80 comics performing 14 shows and galas, which will be presented in both languages at various venues throughout Laval.

The co-founders of the event, Luigi Morabito and Franco Taddeo, have been collaborating for more than two years organizing the festival.

“Laval is the third-biggest city and the fastest growing urban centre in the province, and a lot of people don’t know what Laval is. We’re trying to change that with the festival,” said Taddeo, the festival’s Artistic Director and Director of Programming. “Cities are defined by cultural events, and we wanted to do something for Laval that makes it readily identifiable, which is something it is lacking. Our motto is: Go big or go home.”

The mandate of the Laval Laughs Festival is to have something for everybody, which is being demonstrated by the variety of shows that are already on the schedule. There are ethnically-themed shows where visible and cultural minorities are represented, a Laval-only show to give an experience of connectedness to the audience (something Taddeo hopes will become a staple of the festival in years to come), the Ladies of Laughter, with an all female line-up, a Newbies Show for fresh talent, and a relationship show. There’s even a bilingual show called “Bonjour Hi” where English comics will do their routines in French, and vice versa. It will be a true demonstration of the linguistic cross-section within Laval.

Some of the shows have a charitable link, one of which will be hosted by Chantal Desjardins, where festival organizers have invited local media personalities to perform a short comedic set while raising funds for Le Centre de Benevolat et Moisson, Laval’s food bank.

A late-summer scheduling was also very strategic, Morabito said.

“There’s too much going on in the summer in Montreal, and we wanted to do the festival once everyone is back from vacation and back to school,” he explained. “It’s also the nicest month temperature-wise. We want to give it a Laval flavour where we work out all the logistics of coming, like parking and traffic, and keep ticket prices from being expensive (all exterior shows will be free of charge). We want to bring multiculturalism and things that no one else is doing, and we want to put our DNA out there. When you talk about the festival circuit you don’t think ‘Laval.’ But now people will.’”

Taddeo added, “One of the beautiful things about comedy is that there’s no divide. It’s just a beautiful exchange of ideas,”.

For more info on Laval Laughs Festival, visit www.festivallavallaughs.ca

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