Painfully (for Canadian Taxpayers) Funny

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Comedy lab aims to make Canadian films funnier

CBC News
A new comedy lab aims to ratchet up the laughs in Canadian filmmaking.

A partnership has been struck between comedy experts Just for Laughs and two Canadian film agencies, Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Film Centre, to create an advanced training program in comedy filmmaking.

The program was unveiled Thursday at a comedy conference at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.

The goal is to have at least five feature-length English-language comedies in production by 2011-12.

The idea of the training lab is to have comedy minds from Just for Laughs, which has created hit comedy festivals and TV for international audiences, work with Canadian feature film producers and writers.

Among the comedians who have signed on to work with film teams is Eugene Levy, the Canadian-born star of American Pie and A Mighty Wind.

Sheila de La Varende, director of business development for Telefilm, which is bankrolling the project, said there is a “gap” in Canada’s comedy-making skills.

“While Canada has made some great comedies, such as Strange Brew, Porky’s and Bon Cop, Bad Cop, for a country that is recognized globally for its sense of humour, we have not fully exploited our potential to make funny and commercially successful feature films,” she said in a statement Thursday.

The $1 million cost of the three-year program is to be financed through the Canada Feature Film Fund, a federal program.

Many of Hollywood’s best comedy minds — including Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Mike Myers and Will Ferrell began their careers in standup comedy, which is Just for Laughs’s area of expertise.

The program is to begin this November and the CFC, which is to run it, has issued a call for submissions by filmmakers.