The blowback began brewing online among Canadian comedians last week. The Canada Laughs channel has provided 100 percent Canadian content since its 2005 creation, giving homegrown comedians access to royalties and a place to showcase their work.
The Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians says many local comics rely heavily on that money and exposure.
“For some people, this is their primary source of income,” Sandra Battaglini, a Toronto comic and head of the two-year-old association, said in an interview Monday. “It’s devastating for people, because these changes have already started happening, and people have stopped being played.”
In a news release Monday, the new station was described as a “blend of standup recorded at various Just For Laughs festivals and events, along with premium content from independent comedy albums.”
Battaglini said that means it is no longer “an exclusively Canadian channel … because Just For Laughs archives, the catalogue, is mostly an American festival.” She said a Canadian comedian living in New York first sounded the alarm when her record label informed her that Canada Laughs was disappearing.