"This is the dirty business of Canadian comedy; it's been going on for decades..."
(UPDATE: This story has a happy ending. Late Wednesday night, Just For Laughs announced it would respect the demands of Canadian comedians, led by our guest today, and keep its comedy channel 100% Canadian. If you want to know what's behind this fight and the history of this struggle, this is the inside story.)
It's a tough life, being a stand-up comic in this country. Barring a miracle, the biggest you're going to get is a gig at Just For Laughs—and lately it has seemed like even the iconic Montreal festival is more focused on putting Americans on the top of the bill. This week, the latest blow landed. Just For Laughs (helmed in part by Canadian comedy legend Howie Mandel) merged with Sirius XM and in the process took over programming for a satellite radio station, Canada Laughs, that had been dedicated to playing exclusively independent Canadian comedy. Already, JFL has started filling the channel's programming with their own, very American, inventory. But Canadian comics have fought back.
This week's controversy over a radio channel is a very public example of the fight Canadian comics live every day. Amid that struggle though, Canada Laughs has been for many comics the rare reliable source of income. Can they still count on it? Why is an organization most people would associate with promoting Canadian comedy under fire from the talent it should benefit most?
GUEST: Sandra Battaglini, stand-up comic, co-founder of the Canadian Association of Stand-Up Comedians