CANADALAUGHS was a SiriusXMCanada radio channel that broadcast 100% Canadian comedy since 2005. The channel wasn’t getting the audience that SiriusXM was hoping for, so they recently approached JUST FOR LAUGHS to take over and re-brand and re-tool the channel. I was hoping to hear today, that JFL was going to keep the channel not just “majority” Canadian content, but “vast vast majority” Canadian content. Like… 95% Canadian content. With the other 5% being comprised of tracks from big name international stars, in an “International Nugget” or some such snazzily named segment. Then, of the 95% Canadian content, maybe 15% would be pulled from the existing JFL archives (because it is prudent to make use of business assets)… but those would be ALL Canadian acts from the JFL archive. And then the other (…quick math…literally reaching for calculator…) 80% would feature independently produced material from top Canadian headline acts and rising Canadian talent, which was curated to be deemed of very high quality. This country happens to be swamped with amazing Canadian comedy talent, so that wouldn’t be a problem. Of course, there will be those people who say “But if the 100% Canadian thing didn’t draw the audience before, it won’t now!” But remember, those people are stupid. Maybe that’s harsh. Myopic and dim? Yeah…that sounds better. Myopic and dim. Probably cynical and pissy too…AM I RIGHT??!!!! Having travelled this country working comedy rooms big and small, coast-to-coast-to-coast, over the past 30 years, and seeing the brilliant, original, skilled comics on the scene, I have zero doubt that a properly curated stream of the best the country has to offer, packaged and promoted properly, would draw great. And it would continue to provide a deeply vital stream of royalty revenue for our national comedy talent pool. Maybe even help keep some from moving away. It would also work to establish the names and profiles of our comedians. Instead of only establishing names of companies. That’s been going on for too long in Canada.
I know that JUST FOR LAUGHS has the means to promote the hell out of such a channel, and if they do that, (I would if I were them), this could become an INCREDIBLE BOON to the community, while also being a powerful way to leverage the JFL brand even DEEPER into the national consciousness. WIN/WIN!!! But… if, after this soft retooling experiment is over, the content turns out to be just half Canadian, and then of that half, the vast majority is just pulled from existing JFL archives, only a sad slim sliver will remain to showcase independently produced albums and recordings from Canadian comics. And that will be whatever the opposite of a boon is. I don’t know a good word for it, so I’ll just say “kick in the teeth”.
Now, maybe these numbers that I pulled off the top of my head are naive or off target. I know I’m not the sharpest marble in the sea. But I DO know that JUST FOR LAUGHS and SIRIUSXM CANADA could absolutely work together – perhaps even consulting with members of the Canadian comedy community – to find a way to turn this into a huge success for all, and to keep this incredibly important stream of royalty income viable for our national comedy artists. I certainly hope that’s the intention of everyone involved.