Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Just for Laughs Sold to Howie Mandel and U.S. Company ICM Partners

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Just for Laughs Sold to Howie Mandel and U.S. Company ICM Partners

Article excerpt

Just For Laughs sold to Mandel-led group


Montreal's Just For Laughs answered doubts about its future Wednesday with the company's sale to an investor group led by Canadian-born comedian Howie Mandel.

The new owners, which include U.S. talent agency ICM Partners, said the company will continue normal operations, with the same leadership in place.

Mandel says he has always been a big fan of the annual Montreal comedy festival and performed many times over the last decade.

"Nothing feels like coming home more than being part of the Just For Laughs," he said from Los Angeles.

Just For Laughs was rocked last fall after several women came forward with allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against its founder and majority stakeholder, Gilbert Rozon.

Rozon, who stepped down as president in October, said he would sell his shares in the Just For Laughs company in response to the allegations, which he has denied and have not been proven in court.

Financial terms of the deal announced Wednesday were not divulged.

Mandel said he's always felt frustrated that the event isn't even bigger or get the "props it deserves."

"What Woodstock was to rock and roll, this is bigger to comedy and television in every language."

Mandel said he hopes he can be a strong voice promoting it to comedians around the world.

"I just want to be loud and entertaining and get the message out that if you want to be anything of any value in comedy you have to come to Montreal," he added.

Comedy observers said they were worried when ICM's name surfaced as a potential buyer a few weeks ago.

Mark Breslin, co-founder of the Yuk Yuk's comedy clubs, said Mandel's involvement mitigates those worries.

But Karl Moore, a management professor at McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management, said it's unfortunate that another successful Quebec company has resorted to foreign ownership. …

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