I was lucky to get some one-on-one time with Just for Laughs COO Bruce Hills on my last full day at the festival. We met briefly during his crazy busy schedule, and chatted over – what else? – my new addiction: frites. Bruce is a true Montrealer, he eats them with mayo. I’ve never really been into that idea, but maybe I’ll come around one day.
Bruce is a fantastic guy, and we just chatted about the ways in which we can develop Comedia into more of a force within the world of comedy film festivals. They have a wonderful market for this during Just for Laughs, and Bruce and I traded ideas that will ideally make some great realities for the near future. Hopefully, Comedia will become more of a filmmakers’ destination amid all of the high-profile comedy agents, managers, scouts, and TV network executives already in town for the stand-up segment of Just for Laughs. Comedia is ripe for comedy-minded filmmakers to get discovered.
A Comedia filmmaker/actor/comedian who doesn’t need any help getting discovered (especially with a new distribution pact) is Pauly Shore. Regardless of how you may feel about Pauly Shore and his contributions to the world of cinema (if it makes a difference to you, even he hates most of his film choices from over the years), it’s just nice to hear that his labor of indie filmmaking love is reaping some fruit after years of struggle. Upon chatting with Pauly some more as the weekend progressed, I learned that he has officially changed the title of his feature film to Pauly Shore is Dead from the original, You’ll Never Wiez in this Town Again. Smart move, I say. That original title needed to be changed, and Pauly Shore is Dead not only gets to the point, but will attract the non-Pauly fans.
According to Pauly, the film will arrive in limited theaters in September, with a DVD release (via Fox Home Entertainment) to follow before the end of 2004. To celebrate the film, Fox hosted a party at Montreal hot spot Buddha Bar, complete with sushi rolls and Finlandia mixed with Hype energy drinks. It was a fun soiree, populated less with film/comedy industry and more with the variety of girls you may expect at a Pauly Shore party (I’ll let you use your imagination on that one).
Meanwhile, the Just for Laughs Festival was hosting what appears to be a growing sensation in the realm of movie-related entertainment. It’s called Evil Dead: The Musical. Inspired by the first two Evil Dead films by Sam Raimi, a group of actors and writers have created what’s becoming a Rocky Horror Show-like phenomenon in Montreal. I wasn’t even able to get in, it was so wildly popular. But keep it on your radar, because if Montreal was any indication, this musical will probably be branching out soon to other cities across the continent.
Speaking of making your way across the continent, I just recently got back to Texas. I’m exhausted. The French Canadians are a fun bunch that know how to have a good time, and they know good comedy. I did so much at Comedia/Just For Laughs, yet I still couldn’t find the time to squeeze in so many promising things. If anything, that’s a sign of a great festival.