Here’s something that should put a smile on the faces of Austin comedy lovers: A decades-old international institution designated “the most important player in the global comedy industry” has partnered with a longtime Austin event to create an all-new — and hilarious — comedy festival that’s barreling into town next spring.
Moontower Comedy Festival, which just staged its 10th annual laugh riot the last weekend in September, has hooked up with Montreal-based Just for Laughs Group, a powerhouse in the creation of comedy content, to establish a new Austin comedy event dubbed Moontower Just For Laughs Austin. It will replace the current version of the Moontower Fest and launch in April 2022.
Though more specifics about the new event, including the 2022 fest lineup, will unfold in coming months, the folks at Moontower, which is produced by the Paramount Theatre, note that the new festival will add even more local venues than featured with the original fest, extend the event from four to 10 days, and include more specialty programming.
For Just for Laughs, the partnership enables the company to further grow its internationally recognized comedy brand, which includes its festivals on Canadian and international stages, in Montréal (the biggest comedy event in the world), and in Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, and Bermuda. The company also produces touring shows; broadcasts digital and televised content (most notably Gags, which is shown in 150 countries and followed by an online audience of 10 million on YouTube); and oversees a variety of other comedy-related content.
Having that kind of reach in the comedy world will no doubt be a boon for the local festival, which specializes more in the perfectly intimate and gritty feel of the nostalgic dive-bar showcases of comedy days of yore. With such combined forces, the two comedy orgs hope to create a superhero of comedy fests, “one of the best experiences for comedy fans and comedians in the United States in one of the best cultural cities in North America.”
“This is an amazing opportunity for two generational comedy organizations, respected by the comedy industry at large, to work together to create an amazing festival for fans and artists,” says Charles Décarie, CEO of Just for Laughs Group.
And considering Austin’s growing festival scene, the new Moontower Just For Laughs Austin event could easily trickle in next to major local events like ACL Music Festival, the U.S. Grand Prix, and South By Southwest, with organizers saying they think the new fest has the potential to become as big a player as those famed events and a fan-destination comedy and cultural experience.
“We have long admired Just for Laughs, not just as the creator of a world-renowned festival, but for all they bring to our industry,” says Lietza Brass, Moontower Comedy Festival co-founder and director. “In our early years, we looked to the Montreal festival for inspiration as we modeled Moontower. We are beyond excited to partner with Just for Laughs because we know that, with our comedic powers combined, we are building something very special and enduring for Austin.”
Both organizations are driven by the mission to curate a diverse lineup of the world’s best comedians, podcasters, and performers. As such, programmers from both festivals — along with Moontower co-founder Colleen McGarr — are collaborating to establish an impressive headlining comedy event.
“Pairing Just for Laughs’ international success with Moontower’s devoted fans and attendees, we have a great foundation to build something extraordinary,” says Bruce Hills, president of Just for Laughs. “We are so excited to grow this event and see what Moontower Just For Laughs Austin has in store for next spring.”